Sunday, December 6, 2015

Beaver Presentation 12/3/15

In past years, the beavers took down trees around the pond and trail without disturbing much of the shoreline along the condos. However, this fall they began taking down trees that provide privacy along the back of the condos. This concerned some of our new residents, as well as some of our long term residents who were beaver believers.

We all agreed that the trees needed to stay, but the beavers didn't need to go. In keeping with our long term efforts to co-exist with our longest standing resident rodents. The board enlisted the help of the building and grounds committee to begin protecting trees with wire, and over a period of three days, about 100 trees were protected.

That should provide enough relief for the winter, and come next spring, we can finish protecting trees around the condos. At the same time we were protecting the trees, we wanted to bring our residents up to speed on the benefits the beavers bring to Sherwood Glen and provide them with a bit of history concerning or interactions and conflicts over the past half dozen years. So on December 3, I made a presentation at the clubhouse.

I was pleased to see more than two dozen residents in attendance, as well as receiving messages indicating there were folks who wanted to attend, but were unable to do so. In order to provide information for those folks and others who might want it in the future, here is a multimedia version of that presentation.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Protecting Trees from Beaver

The beavers have decided to work on trees that border the condos.  When they decided to gnaw, they wasted no time and we had to react quickly.  A few hundred feet of wire later, we had more than 60 wraps, many of them protecting multiple trees.  Here's a quick peek at some of the work.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Septic Leak Resolution

Well this update is a tad late.  Let's chalk it up to life getting in the way, but I'm happy to report that the leak was handled quickly and efficiently. 

Thanks to Larry Kelly and his prompt response, the leak was located and repaired within a matter of hours of their arrival.  The Sherwood residents thank him and the Sherwood beavers thank him for helping to keep their home clean and healthy.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Septic Leak and Water Testing

Last week, as I was checking the culvert area, I noticed the water was cloudy on the outflow side of the culvert.  I also got a whiff of what smelled like sewage.  That's not unusual in muddy areas, but then I noticed that water was not only flowing out of the culvert pipe, it was flowing from under the pipe.  A closer examination seemed to indicate that the source was one the septic lines that run from the pumps, under the trail, and out to the leach fields.

We called Epping Septic and Kellop Construction to come check it out.  A septic line leak in one of the two, 2 inch lines that run under the culvert was confirmed. 

Kellop did some tests to determine which pump and which line has the problem, and will be fixing the problem.  According to them, it's a 2 inch line under the culvert.  The line was enclosed in a 6 inch pipe in order to make any future repairs as easy as possible.

On a side note, two weeks ago, we had Epping septic check the holding tanks it the leach fields.  This was the first time these tanks have been tested and the board was concerned about what we might find.  What we found surprised and pleased all of us.  The state of the tanks was perfect.  From the fairly extensive research the board has done about our septic system, we are very impressed with the quality of the work that was done on the leach fields.  

Getting back to the leak, while a leak is hardly good news, I wouldn't classify it as bad news, at least not at this point.  According to Epping Septic, the amount of gray water flowing into the pond is not significant and should be no immediate problem.  According to Kellop, who agreed to fix the problem as part of the work they have to do to finish up here, the repair should be a relatively simple one.

At the conservation committee meeting this week, we discussed water testing as a long term practice and as a way to assessing the impact of the leak (if any) on the immediate area.  At the same meeting we discussed protecting about two dozen of the larger trees on the other said of the pond, from the beavers.  On Wed. morning we will walk to identify the trees and begin the water testing.

This is a message I just sent to the conservation committee:

After exchanging the emails with the state volunteer lake testing folks and the some research into pond test kits, I held our first fund raiser (my credit card) and purchased this basic test kit.

It should be here by Tuesday and we can do some testing as we take our walk on Wed.  Attached is a spreadsheet for recording results, including a map of relatively easily accessible sites for testing sites.One indicator we will want to examine closely will be the phosphate level.  I expect the septic leak area will have a significantly higher content than other areas.  The levels of phosphate would normally be expected to be the same at sites 3 and 4, but with the leak, it will definitely be higher at 4.  Once the repair is made, it should quickly return to equilibrium. 

I think it will be a good idea to test sites 4, 8, and 9 on a daily basis until the leak is fixed. I would expect readings to vary greatly at site for, depending on how soon after a pumping cycle the tests are made.  However, the telling results will be sites 8 or 9.  Any rise in reading at those sites could be an indicator of trouble.  I don't expect any changes in either site, but better safe than sorry.  If there are any changes, the test results will be important in "encouraging" Kellop to make the repair in a timely fashion.

I would also like to run a series of hourly tests at site 4 to see how quickly that area recovers after a pumping cycle.  The key to doing that is being around when a pumping cycle is taking place.  Taking a reading right after the pump stops and hourly thereafter, will be very enlightening.

It will also be interesting to check after a rain, because fertilizer run off will also increase phosphate levels.  It's important to note that individual readings mean little, especially when taken at a time when they would be expected to be higher than normal.  The most important indicator will be long term data collection.
I'll post a follow up next week after our tree walk and water testing.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Flow Control Device Installed on Sherwood Glen Pond

With the beaver dam and pond reaching the level of road, we felt it was time to do something to maintain the pond at it's current level.  Enter Mike Callahan of  Mike has installed more than 1100 flow control and culvert protection devices around the country.

Mike arrived on the scene at 10:00 AM.  After scouting out the best place to put the device, Mike began construction of the flow cage.  The cage is submerged about 40 feet from the dam and the pipe will run from the cage to the top of the dam where it will be camouflaged in such a way to hide it in plain sight.

The installation was watched by about a Sherwood residents, Marty Devine of the Raymond Conservation Commission, and Patrick Tate of NH Fish and Game.  Special thanks to Patrick for pitching in and helping Mike and I with the installation.

The event was filmed by Warren Barnes.  His work is featured in time lapse video below and will be part of the Sherwood Glen Beavers documentary, I will be creating this summer.  This was Warren's first shoot, but you would never know it from watching the footage.

The way the device works is simple. Since water seeks it's own level, anytime the pond level rises to the height of the bottom of the pipe, water will flow over the dam.  The sound should not attract the beavers and the cage will prevent them from feeling the flow into the pipe.

The installation was completed without a single hitch.  Mike said that one reasons was the fact that we were being pro-active.  In most of his installations, he is called in only after there have been serious problems with flood, which complicates the situation.  So, by about 12:30 the cage had been built, assembled and installed. 

The last thing Mike did was to make two small breaches on either side of the pipe.  That served two purposes.  First, it dropped the level of the pond to the point where no water was flowing out of the pipe, and second, it gave the beavers something to work on that night so they wouldn't notice the pipe.

I came out to check the pipe at about 7:00 PM.  The smaller of the two breaches had stopped flowing on its own with the pond level drop.  The other was still going strong.  When I checked again at 7:00 AM, I was greeted with a loud tail slap as the beavers had done their job and were finishing up for the day.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beavers and the Bird's Nest Mystery.

Yesterday, some of the members of the Conservation Committee took a walk around the trail.  Rachel pointed out an unusual tree trunk, bird's nest.  These pictures show the amazing structure. It's in a very large, old swamp maple at the west end of the pond.


I've certainly seen nothing like it and that nearly perfect circle of discoloration seems to have a lot of other people stumped. I posted a pictures to the Facebook Beaver Management Forum and asked for ideas.  There's a lot of curiosity, but no one has yet come up with a good answer.

Probably the closest match anyone has found yet, is the red breasted nuthatch.  It used pine resin around it's tree trunk nest.  I don't think that it, because the gray-white ring doesn't look like resin and an Internet search for images, showed no symmetry involved in their sap spreading.  If it's a nuthatch, it has OCD and an engineering degree.

The tree appears to be one of the biggest and oldest around the pond.  Unfortunately, the beavers have taken a liking to it and have begun gnawing.  I have never seen them go after a tree this size.  I suspect they may not be looking to down it, but rather simply dining on the bark on the exposed roots and base.

In either case, it's not a tree we want to see go down.  I was Sunday afternoon when I realized they were up to their dam chewing.  I had some stakes and fencing still around from past repairs.  It was a quick patch job and I'm not confident it will keep them away if they have a mind to chew.

Here's 25 minutes of wire wrapping in a minute and a half.


The fencing and posts can easily be breached if they manage to get under it on the side that is in the water.  I'm hoping that it's enough of a bother to them that they just move on to something else. I'll know more tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Busy Winter

The beavers have not been idol over the winter.  I don't know if it is a reaction to the snow or anticipation of the spring melt and pond level rises, but they have increased the height of their lodge about the water level by about 30%.

I dug back into my archive of pictures and found a few shots that give a perspective of change over the years.  These three shots speak for themselves. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.) You can see some of the winter food cache to the left of the lodge in the October 2014 picture.  It's obvious that as they ate the bark and small branches, they used the large remains to built the lodge skyward.

Unfortunately, while the roofs of our condos survived the snow and ice, the same can't be said for the culvert fence.  The weight of the snow and the rise and fall of the ice, took its toll and the far end of the culvert cage has collapsed.  The good news is that a temporary repair should only take a few minutes and reinforcement can be made later in the spring when Mike Callahan installs the pond leveler.

While the repair should only take a few minutes, I have to make sure I get to the repair before the beavers discover they have access to the culvert.  That mean daily treks to watch for sufficient melting to allow for a rather cold few minutes of repair.  Hopefully my waders are sufficiently insulated.

I know there is a double entendre here about squirrels watching and nuts, but I'll refrain from committing it to writing.  Let your imagination and your conscience be your guide.