Monday, February 25, 2013

My shortest post ever

So....I went to check on a technical difficulty with the camera this afternoon after work.

the water level is rising. 2013-02-25
I had to cross Minebank run upstream from the beaver dam and pond. The beaver has been busy. I just about 27 hours, the water in the pond has risen about 2 inches. In the photograph to the right, you can see some stones under water. When I used them yesterday to cross the stream, they were about half above the water. Now they are just submerged under the water.

It's a busy little beaver, isn't it?

Here is the camera in place. It is overlooking the slide on the west bank of the stream. Maybe one of these days I will actually catch the beaver on the camera. Wish me luck.

More later.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What's new this week

new dam. 2013-02-24.
The beaver is still active in its new location. That's the good news. The continuing news is that I still have failed to capture the beaver with the trail camera. The bad news--nah. It's too nice a day out, and my trail companions of the afternoon were far to nice people to have bad news.

We had a nice afternoon nosing around and made some observations. We did not observe a beaver lodge or den. Perhaps, the beaver is living somewhere in this mess of sticks piled up on a fallen tree? You can see the pile on the left of this picture. There is another on the opposite bank, not visible in this picture. You can't see it, but the dam is behind the fallen tree. This photograph is looking downstream. You might also observe the evidence of heavy flooding along the stream and it's banks. Notice that some of the banks are undercut by the heavy currents? Trees are falling in to the stream.

Stormwater is the only source of pollution to in the Chesapeake Bay that is increasing.

the new entrance to the old den.
The old dam is almost gone. Still lodged behind what is left of it is a lot of silt. The old beaver lodge is still visible, and so is the hole that some other animal has dug, presumably to reuse it as a new home. Perhaps when the weather, and the water, warms, I will get in the stream and try to find the beaver's entrance tunnel. It is not visible from either bank.

leftovers from someone's dinner.
We also saw some deer bone that some animal has dragged on to the path. I don't know if this is from a wild animal or a dog. A great number of dogs are led along this path. I wonder what the beaver thinks of so many dogs running over its home? They haven't caused it to leave yet.

Finally, even though I have failed to record a beaver with the trail camera, we do have red fox in the area.

More later.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good news. He didn't leave, he just moved....

silt is visible on the left bank, and the pond is full of silt.
I checked on the abandoned dam Saturday. Conditions there are about the same. I did notice that the dam captured a lot of silt. And this in a stream that has been "restored". Without the beaver dam, this silt would have washed downstream. And you already know, I am sure, that downstream is the Chesapeake Bay.

Seems to me that we have a lot of work to do to improve urban water quality.

I also checked the camera that I had left in place to see if it could pick up whatever critter has moved in to the abandoned beaver den. It failed at that, but did pick up some other wildlife in the area.

the new dam. 2013-02-16.
The the good news. I learned from the park staff that rumor has it that there is beaver activity further downstream. It's not just rumor; it's fact. About 320 feet downstream from the first dam, I found another, smaller one.

I also found several trees cut down by the beaver. It is certainly trying to make a new home for itself.

The camera is in place, overlooking the area where the beaver is cutting down trees.

I don't know what will happen here, though I suspect that this dam, like the previous, will be destroyed by flooding. Time will tell, and I will keep looking.

Meanwhile, you are more than welcome to use any image or text in this blog is free for any educational purpose.

More later.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sad news, and whither the critter cam next?

I checked on the beaver's dam today, and made some observations.

The abandoned dam.
The dam appears to be abandoned. It's even smaller than last week, and shows no signs of having been improved by the beaver.

the den.
The beaver's den also appears untended.

I checked the beaver slides, those trails where the beaver from the stream to dry land. I saw no tracks. Similarly, I walked upstream on both banks of the stream about 200 yards and saw no new trees cut down.

silt collected by the dam.
I did look at the beaver pond just behind the dam. This photograph may not show it well, but there appears to be a great deal of silt collected by the dam. This is evidence of the damage done to streams by urbanization, and also evidence of how beaver dams, can help the environment. They trap this sediment, and keep it from racing downstream toward the Chesapeake Bay.

Conclusion: the last storm was one too many for our rodent friend, so it's gone. I have no doubt that it considers itself evicted by the landlord called urban stream flooding. I did not walk the entire stream, so I don't know if it has just moved a little bit and is going to try again on Minebank Run. Which leads to a new goal for this year. Minebank Run is a little under 4 miles from headwaters to mouth. I think I will walk the entire length one day this year. Seems like it might be fun.

The new entrance hole to the beaver's den.
But, nature abhors a vacuum, doesn't it? Already I see a new hole leading into the beaver's den. Another animal has already moved in. I hope the landlord will be more accommodating to the new tenant.

The camera is set up overlooking the den. I may get a glimpse of the new tenant. But, I may not as the camera is about forty-five feet away. That's a long way for a trail camera. It's also the closest tree that wasn't cut down by the beaver.

The Cromwell Critter Cam is not done, even if the beaver is. I intend to keep the camera out, and to keep seeing what there is to be seen in Cromwell Valley Park.

More later.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I bet this beaver really, really, dislikes urban sprawl (Or that dam damage)

The remainder of the dam.
I checked the dam again this week, and was saddened to see it decimated by a flood. Compare this picture with last week's, and you notice that the dam is much lower, and the pond has lost a great deal of water depth. You might also note that the food cache, visible in the center of the stream in the background has been reduced dramatically. More on that later.

Another view of the depleted dam.
Another view of the dam, or what's left of it.

The larder is nearly bare.
Also washed away in the flood was perhaps half of the beaver's food cache' maybe even a little more than half.

Soil washed downstream by the flood.
Before it washed away, the dam must have held back a considerable pool of water. You can see soil that was carried down in the torrent, and left behind when the water slowed behind the beaver's dam. The dam is visible in the upper right of the photograph.

A check of the water flow data in Minebank Run will tell us when this happened. Check the chart to the left. Look at that flood!

(Perhaps you'll allow me an unsolicited editorial here? That chart is the work of the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the Department of the Interior. They do fine work. We shouldn't cut their budget, or sequester it.)

That flood is a direct result of impervious surfaces such as roofs, roadways, parking lots, driveways, et cetera. Instead of hitting soil, and percolating its merry way into the water table, stormwater and melting snow speed their way into the nearest streams. This is the cause of so much erosion in streams near urban areas. The water carries with it nutrients, fertilizers, pet waste, pollutants and trash. All of this eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. We don't want it in the Chesapeake Bay, do we? (

the cover of the den's vent hole.
Before it has a chance to pollute the bay, this stormwater also damages the homes of our rodent friends, the beavers. This beaver set up housekeeping very close to Towson. The only thing left undamaged by the flood is the roof of the beaver den's vent hole.

I checked the camera four days after the flood. I checked the slides on both sides of the stream, looking for evidence of beaver activity. I'm sorry to say that I saw none. I don't know if this means that the beaver has packed up and left, or perhaps is waiting for things to settle down.

The trail camera again failed to record the beaver. It also was damaged by water. Thanks to www. for fast and helpful service with returning it. I'll have it back in the field soon.

More later.