Return of the beavers

We in Vermont live close to the natural world, and in general we love it.  But there’s no denying that we leave our mark on it — we build roads, walls and sugarhouses for example.

This old stone wall has become part of the landscape

Sometimes the creatures of the natural world do things that we find inconvenient.  For several years running a phoebe would build a nest atop a light fixture on our back deck, making it awkward to enjoy it in the warm days of early summer:  if we sat out there, she would shy away from her nest leaving her eggs uncovered, or her hatchlings un-fed.  So we stayed in, mostly, until they fledged.

And then, there are beavers.  Admirable creatures for the most part, but they surely can alter the landscape.

The first sign (that I noticed) that beavers had returned was at the bridge below the pond; normally the bridge sits a good foot above the level of the water, which runs under it at a good clip.  Not so now:  water almost stagnant, almost covering the bridge.

The bridge is almost in the water, and the water isn

So, we (Catherine, the dogs and I) walked on, looking for the dam that was sure to be downstream.

They don’t say “busy as a beaver” for nothing.  We quickly found an “obvious” beaver dam, though not a particularly large one:

Obvious beaver dam, with the classic jumble of chewed logs

But we kept looking further downstream and found even more extensive re-shaping of the stream.

This lower dam extends halfway across the field

I really hope we don’t have to disturb these dams; so far, no roads have been covered, nothing’s been flooded that wasn’t already pretty wet — and no sugar maples have been chewed upon.  But the road to our pumphouse (the one that washed out in Irene) is just below the damworks above, so it’ll be a near thing.  Let’s hope they (the beavers) decide to leave it at this.


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