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Posts Tagged ‘gnawing’

As I wander about in Huntley Meadows Park, I see lots of signs that winter is on its way, including this tree that I encountered in what seemed to be the middle of the woods. Clearly the beavers have been as busy as, well, beavers. I am hoping to be able to capture them in action in the upcoming months.

If you read this blog frequently, you probably noticed that this image is quite different from my “normal” wildlife close-ups. When I stumbled upon this tree on which a beaver had been gnawing, I was struck by the interplay of light and shadows. As I framed this shot, which is uncropped here, I was trying to capture the almost monochromatic look of the scene in a very simple composition. I’m pretty pleased by the different textures that I was also able to capture in the shot.

North American Beaver

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Whenever I am at my local marsh near sundown, I like to hang around near the beaver lodge to see if I can spot the beavers. Often I can hear them gnawing on branches, but rarely do I get an unobstructed view of one of them.

This past weekend, though, I managed to be at the right spot at the right time and got this shot of a North American Beaver (Castor canadensis). It seemed smaller than the other one I saw that evening, so I wonder if this is a young one.

The light was fading as I took these shots and I had to push my ISO past 1000. Even so, the shutter speed was below 1/30 second, so I was happy that my camera was already on my tripod. I was kneeling on the boardwalk as I took these shots and was afraid that other people would approach and scare the beaver away. I was really happy when an approaching family with several small children saw what I was doing and sat down on the boardwalk and quietly watched the beaver in action.

beaver_chewing2_blogbeaver_chewing1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The beavers in my local marsh have been really busy recently as winter draws near (“busy as beavers,” you might say). Each time I visit the marsh I can see evidence of their handiwork. Hmm, “handiwork” is probably not the right word, since most of the evidence I see is work they have accomplished with their teeth. Maybe I should call it “dentalwork,” but that terms conjures up images of beavers with braces on their teeth. I’ll just call it “work.”

Over the past few weeks I have been noting their progress on chewing through a pretty large tree. First they chewed one side and then it looks like they gradually moved around the circumference of the tree. Circumference? Who says that high school geometry doesn’t have everyday applications? They now have gnawed (try saying that phrase quickly multiple times) into the center of the tree and I expect to see to see a fallen tree soon. I won’t be disappointed, and certainly not crestfallen.

On a slightly more serious note, I am genuinely amazed that the beavers don’t just take down small saplings. I confess that, as a result of living most of my life in the suburbs, I don’t know much about wildlife. It’s fascinating to me to look at all of the individual tooth marks in the wood that bear witness to the persistence of this industrious creature. I also see its work in the mud walls that have been built up along the edges of parts of this little pond and the ever-increasing amounts of mud that have been packed on the lodge.

The beaver is ready for a cold winter. Am I?

Let the chips fall where they may

Let the chips fall where they may

How do they gnaw this high?

How do they gnaw this high?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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