Monday, March 24, 2014

The dam bigger than ever, and interesting raccoon behavior

The dam. 23 March 2014
It's hard to tell from this photograph, but the dam is longer, and I think a little higher than it has ever been. Some water had been flowing around the dam on the the east side. The dam is now about 10 feet longer in that direction, and almost rises over the bank.

The dam on the west side is also longer, but not as dramatically as on the other side. The water level also seemed higher than I recall. That may have something to do with spring ice melt.

Another view of the dam. 23 March 2014.
The beavers also built up the entrance to their den. There had always been some sticks around it, but only a very few. Now there is a real structure, and the hole in the stream bank is completely covered. I wonder if that has something to do with preparation for birth. But then again, I may be anthropomorphizing.

Most sources say that we can expect to see the kits born in May or June.

Meanwhile, as you can see below, they are still active, and still cutting trees, eating, and building their dam.

In several of the videos, raccoons appeared, Including a video of two raccoons together. As you may know, raccoons eat almost everything they can get their paws on. They eat insects, worms, fish, crayfish, nuts and bird eggs, among other things. Their territory size varies, but in rich habitat such as Cromwell Valley Park seems to be about 2/10th of an acres.  While looking up some information about raccoons, I ran across a great explanation of their behavior. One researcher observed that "typically you'll find 10 to 15 percent who will do the opposite" of predicted behavior. I guess those animals didn't read the manual.

Get outside and play.

More later.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The dam was breached, the dam was repaired, and the camera missed it all

The dam. 23 February 2014.

As you can see in this photograph, melting snow combined with some rain, overwhelmed and breached the dam.

I thought it might be fun to see if I could capture some videos of the beavers repairing the breach. So, I put the camera in a location overlooking the breach and aimed it in such a way that I thought would do exactly that. I was exactly wrong.

Apparently the beavers were able to swim up to and repair the breach without triggering the motion detector on the camera.
The dam. 9 March 2014.

Four videos are posted below.

The first two are fun to watch. You'll see that a groundhog likes to use the dam as a bridge to cross Minebank Run. With the dam intact, that's one happy groundhog. With the dam breached it's not such a happy critter.

The third video shows one of our beaver pair swimming about in the pond.

The fourth shows a pair of ducks swimming about in the beaver pond.

Which reminds me of a fact revealed by a study in Yellowstone National Park.

"Increases in beaver populations have strong implications for riparian hydrology and biodiversity –Wyoming streams with beaver ponds have been found to have 75 times more abundant waterfowl than those without."

More later.