Saturday, November 18, 2023

The Beavers Are Gone

I'm saddened to tell you that the beavers are no longer occupying our ponds.  Over the past few years the numbers were dwindling from a high of about 12, down to two at the beginning of this season.  Things were looking as sparse last year as we saw no evidence of kits in the spring and again none this spring.  

The picture below shows the pond in November of 2022 and November of 2023.  The first sign is the fact that the beaver lodge has collapsed in the center.  Secondly, to the left of the lodge in the 2022 picture, you'll notice and sticks and branches poking above the surface of the water.  That is the food cache where they store food for the winter.  You can't see it in the 2023 picture, but there is no cache visible this year.


It's impossible to say exactly why this happened, but it probably started happening back in 2018 when the dam on the lower pond gave way. In subsequent years predators and drought added to the pressure on the beavers. Beavers mate for life and as far as I can tell the same couple has been in residence since we moved here in 2009. It's entirely possible that old age was the final blow.

So that begs the question of what the future holds for our ponds and the beaver population. As one of my friends in the Facebook Beaver forums said, "beavers come with invitation and leave without notice." 

Beavers establish scent mounds around the pond to mark their territory and let other beavers know that they are not welcomed. With the beavers gone the scent mounds will lose their potency and other beavers coming into the territory may feel free to take up residence.

Those of you who have been around for a while know that we need the beavers. In a somewhat understandable but monumental design flaw, the builder installed a road between the 2 ponds and ran our septic lines run under the road. By doing this he took 300 feet of natural wetland drainage between the ponds and channeled it through 4 culvert pipes. This guaranteed that the beavers would be attracted to the flow and clog the culverts.  That history is all here in past posts. 

If the dam were to breach there is a good chance it would wash away the road and expose or damage the septic lines. The beavers maintain the dam and the dam is the only thing protecting the road.

The good news is that in 2011 we installed a pond leveler to stop the growth of the upper pond. When it rains it drains the excess water into the culvert and through the pipes to the lower pond. That's one of the things that caused the growth in the beaver population, because they had much less work to do maintaining the dam and that gave them a lot more time to do other more entertaining things.

So now it's a waiting game. Hopefully the pond leveler will continue to do its work and prevent the dam from deteriorating the way it would if the leveler wasn't in place. We can't put a vacancy sign up or place an ad in the Beaver Gazette to attract other beavers, so we'll just have to wait and hope that a beaver or two will come along and repopulate.

Friday, March 24, 2023

The Month of the Beaver

Wow! It has been almost exactly 4 years since my last entry here. I know this is a blog about our beavers. I will get there shortly, but please bear with me as I explain my absence.

Looking back over the past few years, 20-20 hindsight lets me see my health was headed in the wrong direction. It hit a low point on December 17, 2021, when I had a heart attack. My right coronary artery had a 100% blockage. Now, thanks to modern medicine and 3 stents, I'm alive and kicking.

For me, it was a wake-up call. I changed my diet and began regular exercise. The biggest challenge was keeping my salt intake down to 2000 mg/day. To give you a sense of how difficult that is for me, I was the guy who would salt potato chips, and my favorite snack was extra salty pretzels from Unique Pretzels. I would buy a box containing 6 bags and go through them in a little over a month. That's a little more than 56,000 mg of sodium. No wonder I had a heart attack.

At any rate, I'm healthier than I have been in the past 10-15 years. I'm back to my college weight and have not had a salt shaker, pretzel, or potato chip in my hand since the heart attack. Well, actually, that's not true. I did have just one potato chip just to prove that it IS possible to eat just one Lays potato chip.

That's enough about me. This is the beavers' blog, and at last night's Board meeting, I reported that from mid-March to mid-April is the month of the beaver. They have come out from their winter retreat in the lodge and are lean and hungry. They have to fuel up for the coming spring's work and the raising of kits.

There is no green vegetation yet, so they will look for lunch wherever it is being served. Here on the pond, they have located the largest tree on the property. We had protected it with wire fencing in 2015, but they have finally found their way in and are feasting on the tender cambium layer under the bark. They aren't trying to bring the tree down, but their dining efforts will eventually kill the tree if it is not protected before they work their way all the way around the trunk.

The old fencing had been mangled and looks like beavers' interpretation of January 6th. I'll be contacting the board later today about getting the needed fencing and making the necessary repairs in the next few days, as long as weather permits. We have a winter mix predicted tomorrow, but Sunday and Monday are supposed to be in the 50's.

I also reported that spring thaw will bring more water to the pond, and the pond leveler will become active. This, in turn, will result in the beavers being attracted to the running water in the culvert and will cause them to do some damming. This is normal and to date, it has not presented any significant problems.

However, one never knows, and until the pond level stabilizes later in spring, we will be keeping a close watch to make sure there are no issues. If there are issues, it will be where you see the water flowing into the culvert cage. That's where they will attempt to dam first. If they do, it can be handled with hip boots, a shovel, and a rake.

The kits are usually born in May or June, but if past years are the yardstick, our friends are eager beavers because we've seen kits in late April.

Beavers are nocturnal, but it's not unusual to see them active in the early dawn hours or toward dusk. That's a good time to walk the trails to check out activity on the pond.

If you are new to the community, this is one of the last videos I made of the beavers in 2019 and is one of my favorites. It rare to see that many beavers active at one time here on the pond. 

If you see anything of concern such as beavers working on a tree that poses a safety issue, drop me an email at .  There is a tree down now, but that was a dead tree brought down by the winds. The beavers are innocent of that damage, but not the one across the trail marked with the yellow caution tape.

With that, I'll sign off and promise it won't be four more years before you hear from me again.  

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The First Beaver Kit Sighting

On April 22, Mike Callahan will replace the aging culvert cage I installed in 2011. With the weather being so nice today, I decided to fire up the $20 flea market lawn mover I bought 4 years ago to attack the weeds along the trail.

Before doing that I decided to inspect the lower pond. As I reached the culvert cage, the first kit of the season showed his/her hide. We took each other by surprise and I only got about 7 seconds of shaky video, but it was obvious the little critter was only a few weeks old.

The situation at the far end of the lower pond is status quo. Jeff has his trail cam out and tells me that there has been inspection by the beavers, but not damming activity. There is a constant flow through the dam and the pond level won't get higher until they secure the dam. I'm confident that they will do just that.

As I think about it it's not surprising they are not working at the far end. Since they moved to the upper pond after last year's dam breach, their focus in the spring will be the upper pond. They will make sure that dam is secure first. Once that is done, they may head toward the lower dam.

The ducks are loving the lower pond. The shallow water makes food easier to reach.

We've has at least three otter sightings. That's good news and bad news. It's good news because they are fun to watch and are a sign of a healthy pond ecosystem. It's bad news because a hungry otter could easily see a baby beaver as a meal.

I hate the gym, but love working out in nature. It felt great to get out and do some physical work, because I just can't "become one" with a treadmill.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Beaver Update 11-3-18

Much has transpired since the dam breach in August.  The beavers from the lower pond have moved to the upper pond, but have been working to restore the breached dam while they prepare to winter in a previously abandoned lodge at the far end of the upper pond.

The lower pond has been recovering nicely, but the excessive rain is once again threatening to cause a breach.  Even the upper pond is stressed water is flowing over the dam in a half dozen places and water is flowing through the culvert faster than ever.

Here are some videos taken over the past two months.

This is the condition of the dam and the lower end of the pond on 11/3/18.  There is quite a bit of flow and it is early in the day. Hopefully the beavers will get to work on it tonight along with repairing the much smaller breaches in the main dam, which are not shown here. 


This is the lower pond as it looked on 10/29/18.

Since the breach of the lower dam, the water flowing through the culvert has been driving the beavers crazy and they are doing everything they can to get into the culvert cage and access the culvert pipes. The only good part about the substantial flow is that it is too fast for them to try to block the outflow. The inflow is protected by the culvert cage and it's 6"x6" steel mesh. However the beavers have put their youngster to work.  He or she is small enough to fit through the 6"x6" mesh. The videos below document some of this activity.

This is what transpired the week of 10/11/18.

On a different topic. Critters around the pond continue to prepare for winter.  As I was walking the trail to check the dam at the end of the lower pond, I came across this little guy.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that the beavers fortify both dams in the coming week and that we have a dry November, followed by a good freeze that will take us to spring and the installation of a new culvert protection cage. 

Watch for more updates as the beaver continue to do their thing.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

It's a Waiting Game

Beavers need about three feet water around the lodge in order to be safe against predators, survive freezing, and to be able to cache enough food to survive the winter. It seems obvious that even if the beavers repaired the dam immediately, there is little or no chance of that happening before winter. I suspect the beavers knew that long before I did, because there seems to be no further efforts to seal the breach.  They have either moved on, or retreated to an unused lodge in the upper pond.

However, that hasn't stopped the activity of the beavers in the upper pond.  They do not like to flow of water through the culvert after a rain and were working to try to breach the cages. Their persistence and ingenuity never cease to amaze me.  They managed to burrow under the culvert cage enough to get their teeth into the culvert pipe, chew it away and make their way into the culvert. Then mouthful, by mouthful, they dragged pond grass and mud all the way through to begin damming the other side.

Because of the tight fit, they are not able to get any sticks inside the culvert and the work they have done so far will be washed away with coming rains, as long as I prevent further excursions into the culvert.

UPDATE 6-27-18 - A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a thousand word update on what I have done to stop further culvert clogs.

I suspect that if they do get through this, we have Arnold Schwartzenbeaver living on our pond.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dam Breach and Repair Update 8-20-18

Here's a short video update on the work being done by the beavers to repair the breached dam.  In it,
I make reference to the fact that they are not repairing the breached area and are working under and behind the tree they bought down. This actually not a new work area.  They were actively building back there in 2015. I blogged about it then. You can find that blog entry here.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Beavers and Murphy's Law

Because of heavy rains we've had this month, the lower pond was growing faster than expected. So yesterday, I contacted the NH Wildlife Society to make sure I could apply for another grant to put in a pond leveler at the far end. They said that they would be happy to accept the application, but during the night Murphy's Law kicked in, and the dam at the far end breached, draining the lower pond.  The good news is there was no damage to common areas or condo units and thanks to the pond leveler, the upper pond is in no danger.

The beavers have already begun to rebuild, but there are still questions and concerns that will have to be answered in the days to come. 

How long will it take the pond to recover? Were their damming efforts taking place during the breach and now that the pond is drained, will they continue to dam or will they abandon their efforts?

The pond leveler in the upper pond is functioning perfectly and thanks to heavy rains this week, it is feeding the lower pond water that it would not be getting otherwise. Also, the fact that we had the pond leveler installed was, is, and will be added protection against breach of the main dam.  

However, the water is flowing through the culvert pipes at a rate that would normally attract beavers to the outflow culvert cage installed this spring. Will they concentrate efforts on the breached dam at the far end? Will they try damming the culvert? 

We certainly won't be needing another pond leveler for a while, but we may have to modify the outflow protection, if the beavers try to dam it. I guess we are going to have to watch and leave it to the beavers.

The only immediate action that is required has been taken.  I left a message with mosquito control and am awaiting a call back.  A few years ago, I had contacted them to see if we had anything to be concerned about.  At that time, they said the pond itself was no problem, but they put us on their watch list and check us during normal inspections.