Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Busy As A...

This morning was the foggiest that I've seen since moving to North Carolina. I took my camera along for my daily walk because it just felt different from any other day. The route takes me around neighborhood streets and onto the greenway.

Foggy sunrise!

A neighbor and her dog emerging from the fog.

The greenway.

The cicadas of summer have died off, and the leaves rustling in branches have all but fallen. I didn't see any deer or snakes this morning but there were plenty of red cardinals, ducks, mourning doves and lots of scampering squirrels and bunnies.

The colors are muted now...Autumn's mossy greens and wet browns. The water was misty and still. I looked into the stand of saplings and saw a few red leaves hanging tough, and a little spray of yellow honeysuckle. Nothing out of the ordinary~~just the season's gentle change.

Then, a bright white shape at the base of a tree caught my eye.

I zoomed in to see what it was.

I'd never seen anything like it before, but it looked cartoonish, as if a beaver had taken some big bites outta that tree.

I looked around (in too deep for a landscaper....) and saw signs of recent snacking.

Up close you can see the teeth marks! Nature's chainsaw.
I Googled "Beavers in NC" back at home and found that there are loads of beavers (the largest rodents in the U.S.) in NC. They range from 30-75 lbs, and are 45' long. That's a big rodent. They are nocturnal and stop most of their work at dawn and dusk (obviously when it's lighter out...) They stand up to cut the trees, and use their tail for balance. I'd like to see that, actually. They can cut a sapling in one 176 lbs per square inch, more than double a human's pressure.
Isn't this fascinating? Ok, maybe not! If you're still reading....

Beavers instinctively block flowing water to form a pond and though beaver colonies can be a nuisance in some areas, the upside is that the ponds provide a habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. That's certainly true here~~the greenway is a mini zoo.

Not sure if we have a "problem" population, but I'll be curious to see if they come back to finish the job on that larger tree. Beavers know to place the trees upstream, to block the flow. I still need my GPS to get around. The pond is kind of swampy, and there's not much in the way of moving water. Maybe our beavers are just keeping busy...

Update on Sunday December 4th: I walked past on Thanksgiving Day and the tree was this is an active project for the resident beavers. It took me til today to go back with my camera, and quite a bit more has been gnawed away!

The felled tree is at least 20' long...
...and the beavers have cut it into sections!

The bark is being stripped off and they're chomping away at the tree. At least 6' have been gnawed off the end since Thanksgiving day.
The greenway is very quiet during the day, but it seems there's a lot going on at night!

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