Beavers come and beavers go

Beaver ponds start small:


and sometimes shrink again as quickly as they started,


leaving wildflowers behind in the enriched and newly sunlit soil:

Allegheny Monkeyflower, Mimulus Ringens
Allegheny Monkeyflower, Mimulus Ringens
Spotted Touch-me-Not, or Jewelweed
Spotted Touch-me-Not, or Jewelweed

Multiple generations can create large wetlands:


and of course open water:


Beavers build and abandon lodges, then reoccupy them a year or two later for no apparent reason. Last year all my beaver ponds were bereft of beavers, but this year they are back. This one was caught by my game camera returning to the lodge with a huge bunch of ferns, perhaps for a family inside:


This one was swimming round in a different larger pond, slapping his tail in warning, but circling back to try and work out where and what we were. Here comes that powerful one-foot long tail:


and later a tail-slap with the tail at full stretch in a final salute:


The tail is scaly, and is used as a rudder in swimming. The tail slaps are thought to serve as warnings to family members, and to drive away predators. It is also a place to store fat through the long winter.

PS Sadly, that muscular tail has caught people’s attention for the wrong reasons. Hunters in New England consider the tail a delicacy, and in Poland the tail of the European beaver (a different but pretty similar species) is apparently coveted by some elderly men:







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