Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Newest Residents

A month or two ago, Don and Jessie told me that they spotted some otters on the pond.  Since then there have been a few other sightings.  Today, Jeanne C. sent me some pictures she snapped of one of them tooling around the edge of the pond skating on thin ice.

I just love the profusion of wildlife around the pond, but I have to admit otters are my favorite critters.

Here's one of the snapshots Jeanne sent.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Missed a Lot of Dam Action!

After the beavers took down the large tree at the head of the trail, the began to pack it in for the season. I, unintentionally, followed suit. My family lives in NJ.  Hurricane Sandy and my parents' 70th anniversary had us occupied.  I haven't been down to the pond for weeks.

Last night, Russ woke me out of my dormancy with an email telling me he noticed the pond level was down almost a foot.  I took a walk to the culvert to investigate.  The drop off was immediately noticeable, but as I surveyed the dam, I saw no active leaks, not even the slow leaks that ran the entire season.  However, there two places that looked like breaches.

This picture taken at dusk, is what I thought was the smaller of the two apparent breaches. It is on the right as you walk down the trail from the condos toward the culvert.  At first glance, one wonders whether this is just a point where the beavers are crossing, but that's not the case.  There is no evidence of traffic in the gully or coning up the bank on the road side.

Closer inspection during the day revealed that it was a crossover, but it may have also been a small breach. After crossing over, they turned left and walked along the base of the dam to a protected grassy area closer to what I call the Sherwood Glen Turnpike (their chosen crossing). It lies between this crossover and the culvert. Had I taken a picture of it, you could more easily see the difference.  If I remember, I'll do that tomorrow and post it for comparison.

I just found a cool new application for my iPad. It's an interactive whiteboard app that allows you to record presentations. I just used it to give you a peek at the actual breach. Click here to see the breach near the culvert. It is even more obvious, because this is the most used human observation spot, and this only recently appeared.

My best guess is that the pond level rose, because of rain and runoff, and the flow over the top began slowly. The beavers had already settled in and whether by choice or because they didn't notice, they allowed the breaches to continue flowing.  Eventually, the level dropped sufficiently, and the water stopped flowing over the top. The perpetual leaks stopped either because they are now about water level, or the water pressure had dropped sufficiently to stop the leaks or make them imperceptible.

I'd love to hear from any Sherwood residents who might have seen actual water flowing and can confirm, refute, provide more details, offer a possible time frame, or otherwise clarify my musings.

UPDATE: Here's the Sherwood Glen Turnpike.  It's about 20 feet to the left of the breach as you look at the dam.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Meteors and Beavers

Staying up a little late is a lot easier than getting up a lot early.  So, about 12 AM this morning, I headed out to the pond to get a glimpse at the Orionid meteor shower.  I parked my carcass in a chair right where the culvert separates the upper and lower pond.

About 2 or 3 minutes passes quietly as I was staring up at the sky and listening to "the sounds of silence", when all of a sudden I nearly jumped out of my skin.  The slap of a beaver's tail about 20 feet from where I was sitting, took me by surprise. 

Having announced his displeasure at my midnight he moved to the other side of the dam and began patrolling up and down its length slapping his tail about once each circuit. 

Having adjusted to the initial surprise, I went back to star gazing.  Over the next 15 minutes I counted 5  meteors and 22 beaver tail slaps.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This is A-gnawing!

Here's a time lapse video with 30 minutes of gnawing in 30 seconds. Most of the work is done by one beaver, but about half way through, another beaver comes in to get a chew or two. I thought the tree would go down tonight, but clearly they were just interested in grinding down those incisors.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Lack of Activity Has Been Gnawing at Me!

With three lodges on the pond, I've been anxious to see where the beavers would settle for the winter.  I knew they would soon begin working on trees and thought the location of their activity would be clue as to which lodge they would stock.  My bet was for the lodge near the dam and the culvert, because the drop in the pond due to the installation of the culvert protection cage, made it habitable again.

For the past three days, I have been walking around the pond trying to spot some fresh activity.  I was having no luck at all until yesterday. As I entered the trail, out of the corner of my eye I caught something different. The reason I couldn't find any activity for the past three days was because I was passing it before I started looking for it. 

Right at the head of the trail in the woods very near the beginning of the dam, is this Y-shaped tree.Not that the beavers can read, nor would they care if they did, but this tree is clearly in the conservation zone.  Humans can't disturb it, but the beaver can, but they aren't doing themselves any favors by destroying the signs that protect them.

I put my trail camera to see if I could catch the culprit and at 9:51 last night he showed up.  This video shows about a minute of the activity before the camera malfunctioned, probably because of my settings.

I changed the settings and put the camera back out to catch any activity tonight.  Normally, I would say that he had a few more nights of work, but this tree is dead at the top and can see that the center is hollow.  Tonight could be the night it goes down.  I moved the location of the camera, because it was in danger where it was.  I hope the beavers and I are on the same wavelength as to where it will fall. If either of us is wrong as to the direction, it could crush my camera or damage their dam.

I'll follow up when I know more, but now that you have just about recovered from the title pun, and are feeling safe, I'll leave you with the thought that tomorrow you may see another dam episode of Gnaw and Water!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beaver Tail Slap

Yesterday, I had my Canon S3 in my right hand and my Flip Mino in my left as I simultaneously shot stills and video of the mother and father beavers cruising around one of the 3 lodges. I got my first beaver tail slap on video and still.  This video is a still, a video clip, and another still.  The first still was taken at the beginning of the video sequence and final spill was snapped as a reflex after the tail slap that took me by surprise.

Monday, August 13, 2012

More Action from Sherwood and Glen

Sherwood and Glen, our baby beavers, provided me with a good 30 minutes for film time last night. I edited it down to the best two minutes that you see here. You can even hear them chatting to one another.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet the Baby Beavers of Sherwood Glen Pond

Sherwood Glen Pond had two new residents. Up until tonight, I thought there was just one beaver kit, but I was lucky enough to get about ten minutes of video of TWO.  I have no idea of their sex, but Jill came up with names that are fitting, and unless anyone objects, I would like to introduce you to Sherwood and Glen, the newest residents of Sherwood Glen Pond.

First Picture of this Season's Baby Beaver

During the first week in May we installed a culvert protection cage around the three culverts running under the pond road.  We expected the beavers to begin building around the cage to stem the substantial flow, but apparently our effort were better than anticipated, because not a single stick was put in place and today the inflow of all three pipes looks like this. The only action they have taken was on the outflow side. Because each pipe is installed a few inches lower than the others, one pipe handles almost all the flow. It is this pipe to which the beavers have turned their attention.

In May and June, the flow was so rapid that as quickly as they attempted to put anything in place, it was washed away. Eventually, the levels in the upper and lower pond equalized and the flow slowed enough so that they could make some headway. What you see here is the sum total of their efforts over the past three months. These flash pictures were taken a few nights ago, about a half hour after sundown. As I stood there on the culvert wall examining the cage area, I was surprised, as I caught sight of movement coming from the first culvert. A baby beaver was coming out of the pipe into the cage.

It was too dark to take a picture without a flash, but the baby cooperated by just floating there until I got out the camera and took a flash picture. A split second after the flash, he slapped his tail and dove, but I got the shot.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

With a Little Help from Our Friends

Beavers are responsible for about 85% of the wildlife around the pond. This is just a little slide show of some of the animals I've seen this spring at Sherwood Glen. Almost all these shots were taken in the past month or two. There are two or three from last year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dealing with 2-Legged Rodents

Click to enlarge. I still have to practice a bit. It's pretty easy to spot where I stitched this together.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Beavers' Neighborhood

There isn't a lot of news about the beavers, but this video provides you with a little perspective of the pond area and some of the beavers' neighbors.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Beaver's Neighbors

The beavers have been uncharacteristically quiet so last night I decided to try to get their attention. Their dam is built in such a way that if we ever need a relief valve, the far end on the dam is perfect. About a minute's worth of work will breech the dam and allow additional water to flow into the basin. More work would give more of a flow, but last night I just spent a minute to get nice flow of water moving across the barrier. In the past, even this amount of flow triggered a reaction from them.

I set out the trail camera to see how they would react. In the past, this action was met with an immediate reaction and I would find the dam repaired the next morning. When I checked this morning, nothing had been done. After checking the trail camera, I saw that at about 9:00 PM and midnight a beaver checked it out, but he did nothing.

Could it be that with the past three days of rain they are happy with the level of the pond? In actual fact, the level is higher than it has ever been in the past, even though the clearing of the culvert has resulted in a constant flow from the upper pond to the lower pond, with a corresponding rise in the lower pond level by at least a full foot!

So today, lacking beaver shots, we will take a look at a few things I saw going on around the pond yesterday.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sherwood Beaver Update - May 6, 2012

Well so far the culvert protection fence is working better than anticipated.  Clearing the culverts dropped the level of the basin anywhere from 1-2 feet as witnessed by this clump of grass.

The low water level in the basin has revealed at least a half dozen leaks along 150 feet of dam.  These leaks were what filled the basin and prompted the beavers to originally block the culverts. 

The sound of running water from at least three of the leaks, is sufficiently fast and loud enough to alert the beavers.  However, they are doing nothing about them, probably because there is no way for them to effectively deal with them.

We expected the beavers to begin damming around the fence, but it the half dozen leaks are resulting in a significant outflow, both in volume and sound. This is what currently has their attention.

You may remember that right after the installation, they make a pretty good attempt to block the outflow, but seemed to give up.  I cleared that first attempt and began watching their reaction.  This animation shows three days worth of activity at the culvert. I'll continue the watch in the coming days.

My Bushnell Trophy Camera arrived yesterday.  I've been working with it to determine the best settings and to get a feel for the range and triggering sensitivity.
Right now my house cats are the subjects of my studies, but within a few days, I'll see if I can position it to catch the beavers in action around the outflow of the culvert.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sherwood Beaver Update - May 3, 2012

Over the past year, the beavers have responded rapidly and forcefully each time we attempted to clear the culverts. However, the culvert protection cage we installed last week, seems to have given them reason to pause. This abbreviated video shows what they beavers have done in response to our latest actions.  A longer version with additional background information can be viewed here.

Introducing the Beavers of Sherwood Glen

I'm late!  To be more accurate, this blog is late.  I probably should have started it two years ago, when I first began watching the Sherwood Glen beavers, but I didn't.  I didn't even start it last April when they completely dammed four, two-foot diameter culverts that separate our upper and lower ponds and prompted us to take action.

And so I now offer you the slightly late story of the beavers of Sherwood Glen.  The detailed story of what transpired from April 2011 up until today can be found in presentations available via the tabs at the top of this page.

In the coming weeks and months, I hope to have more video of wildlife, the beavers in action, and their impact on the ecology of the pond and population of the condos.
A very brief overview of the past year is covered in this video, and from this point on, the blog will follow the activities of the beavers and other wildlife in and around the pond.