And they are hungry! As our long deep freeze finally eases up, the beaver, who we haven’t seen even a single wood chip from since December, finally ventured out last night, and they left freshly cut and debarked logs on the ice in at least four locations along the lower river. Since I walked on the ice for much of the river yesterday, I can confidently assert that these were not there then.
Check out the crazy ducks. For the first time, I’m not focusing on them, and they perform like rock stars!
Anyway, all the sites were on the other side of the river, and I wanted to get a closer look, to see if there were tracks, so I hiked across the ice, even after telling myself when I set out this morning I’d better stay off the ice today after how warm it was yesterday afternoon and last night. I got about 90% of the way across on the first attempt, and the ice started to feel a little punky, so I turned around and tried again further upstream where someone has helpfully strung a rope from side to side.
On the other side, I believe I can now confirmed who left that mystery track in the snow we saw yesterday. The lack of foot prints either beside or behind was what perplexed me. Now I’m confident that beaver cover their own tracks in the snow with that fancy tail they drag behind.
I also confirmed that the ice is indeed not safe. Ha! Sometimes science requires getting your feet wet, right? Luckily, that’s all it was, and the nice gaiters Carl got me worked surprisingly well to keep most of the water out. It pays to be quick, though.
Better yet, I spotted an actual beaver up on the ice a bit down stream, and I’ll spare you the details of how I managed to totally flub that shot.
Instead, since I was already on the other side for the first time in years, I decided to see what there was to see and hike up to Port Washington road to cross back over safely on the bridge. As I came back down the other side, it finally dawned on me that maybe the beaver I saw, who was hungry enough to come out to feed in broad daylight, might still be that hungry. Then I made a beeline back down to the lower river.
And sure enough, there it was back up on the ice on the west side. I needed all the zoom I have, and I tried every setting my camera had to capture a down brown animal against bright white snow under a bright white sky. These will have to do for now.
I can only think of one time before that I’ve ever seen beaver live, and that was in the water last summer, so I had no idea how they behave on land. If you’ve ever seen a video of a sloth, that would give you some idea about how this one behaved, and I was grateful for all the time it allowed me.
It turns out, you will probably not be stunned to learn, that beaver were not the only hungry ones out and about today. The seeps are finally thawed and flowing again, and this robin was right down into one looking for something good to eat.
Here’s another herring gull trying to gulp down a little fish, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it swiped it from this unhappy looking female common merganser again.
Finally, since some of you seem to be so into arty still-life shots now, here are a couple more.