May 2nd, 2007
The first casualty of the beaver was spotted yesterday when Sabrina and I went out for our morning walk. There was no sign of the beaver — just a poplar tree felled next to the water. I won’t grieve much over the tree as poplar grow like weeds around our place. In fact, it’s too bad the beaver wouldn’t amble up the lane and cut down a few of the poplars shading our vegetable garden. However, with my kind of luck, it would take out the Butternut tree instead — so better it stays down at the back of the field.
Anyhow, as mentioned in the replies to comments left on this post a couple of days ago, we’ve decided to just let the beaver stay, at least for the next while. In case you didn’t catch any of the discussion, we weighed the pros and cons and decided that it would be nice to have the old drainage ditch hold some water again. In recent years, it totally dries out by July and we have noticed a drop in frog populations. Also, we no longer get the Bitterns and Mallard Ducks that used to nest in the cattails. There’s literally no danger of the beaver causing flooding problems as the ditch only drains a field and is not a true creek, although I casually refer to it as one as it’s about 10 or so feet wide and about 1,200 feet long. The downstream end of it flows through a neighbour’s field and out into a larger municipal drainage creek. The only true “danger”, if you want to call it that, is that the beaver might cut down some trees. I did a bit of reading up on beaver last night, and it seems that a small family group of about 5 will cut down about 2 acres of poplar before exhausting the supply in about 3 years — or that’s what one website said. Unfortunately, I forgot to bookmark the reference, but that sounds about right, I think. Also, this site discusses studies on tree preference and states that poplar and salix (willow) are the trees favoured by beaver. We have a lot of both of those, so I’m not concerned if the beaver harvest some of them. I have noticed that they seem to like Ash trees though, so we’ll put some protection around a couple that grow near the ditch, as well as around the birch trees.
In any case, I’ll be watching to see what goes on back at the little beaver dam over the next while. My guess is that the beaver will move on by midsummer as the water level drops off. People around here refer to beaver that build dams in seasonal ditches “land-locked beaver” and they are usually just temporary residents. When the weather gets too hot and dry, they wander off looking for a more substantial pond or stream.
In other developments, I checked on the Robin and Mourning Dove nests yesterday. The Dove has now been on her nest for about 7 days. The Robin now has 2 eggs in her nest (see below).
Last item — I just finished filling in and sending off the Blogger BioBlitz data sheet for the last of the 4 sites that we surveyed between April 21 and 28. As mentioned before, I posted all of the photos from the farm part of the survey here in my Pbase galleries. Most of the photos are now captioned with IDs. I also put an “abbreviated” version of the species list from the data sheet up online for those who might be interested in seeing how things turned out. I think there were about 121 or 122 species of flora and fauna pretty much identified to species, give or take a few that I couldn’t take beyond genus. Considering the time of year, it wasn’t a bad number of species. The plant section is quite pathetic, but the insects were okay. All in all, I’m pleased with the surveys that we did here and at the other sites that we visited while hiking on April 21st and 22nd. I think it the whole project of the Blogger BioBlitz exceeded my own expectations. Quite a number of bloggers spent some serious time outdoors taking a good look at habitat in their area. I haven’t yet had time to get around to visit all of the different blogs that have posted their reports, but I have read a few and they were quite enjoyable. I’ll post links to some of the reports after everyone gets caught up posting their summaries. In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the views of another blogger from my region who took part in the blitz. I particularly liked the last part about the cook-out. So true.
Well, with all of the IDing of flora and fauna out of the way, I’m off to check on the latest developments back at the beaver dam.