The Challenges Continue

A couple of weeks ago, I made an early morning hike to reach one of the beaver lodges I routinely kayaked to earlier this year. But water levels here are now not navigable … even when ice is not on the water, the water level is so low that it is impossible to navigate this area. Why? Two reasons. First, our area was in an extreme drought this past year (and we’re still in drought conditions with ~15 inches or so behind where we should be). And second, the lake where this beaver lodge is located is being drained by our state conservation agency, for renovating the fishing conditions. The lake is a popular, rural fishing lake, but has been overrun with silt and aquatic grasses. The agency is slowly draining the water from the lake and will begin excavating a new lake bed whenever it has been emptied and dried. Upon establishing a new bed, water will be allowed to fill the lake and then it will be stocked with fish once again. This process will be a length one … they estimate it could take up to 5 years before fishing is once again allowed.  Shoot, if we don’t get out of our drought, it might be even longer!

My hike was primarily to check out the beaver lodge and see if they were still in the lodge, or if they have moved on. From the looks of things, I think they have moved on to a nearby pond or creek. I did see one beaver swimming in the narrow “puddle” of water left, but he never approached the lodge and soon swam out of sight. I’m pretty sure he is from another nearby population. Here are a few images I made of the area.

As I approached the lodge, I first came upon the beavers’ “smorgasboard” area, where they routinely cut down small saplings:

Area behind beaver lodge, where beavers have cut down many small trees

Area behind beaver lodge

 

In the first image, above, the lodge is located just to the righthand side of this area and over the embankment. After photographing the foraging area, I climbed over the embankment and walked around to the lodge entrance (actually, there are 2 entrances shown in this next image … the large one towards the center and a smaller one just to the right, and above the large entrance):

Beaver lodge, showing entrances, when lake was drained below the lodge level

 

And there are at least 3 more entrances I observed, to the left of these! This is quite a large lodge. I believe the beavers started adding to this lodge when the drought began, in an attempt to keep an underwater entrance. After I photographed the lodge, I climbed back on top the embankment (just above the lodge) and waited in the cover of some brush. After ~30 minutes, I spotted a lone beaver in the distance, swimming about in the small, remaining remnant of the lake (note all the mud, both in front and back of the beaver … this used to be about 10 feet of water):

Beaver in shallow water, as lake is being drained

 

While I was around the lodge, there were no sounds coming from it. In the past, I would almost always hear the sound of at least one beaver chewing on a branch (beavers have the need to continuously chew on wood, in order to keep their teeth from overgrowing their mouths). Just a short distance away, and across a gravel road, there is another beaver lodge. That lodge’s use was discontinued when the drought lowered that creek to very low levels. I suspect the beavers from the lake lodge may have relocated to that lodge, which is receiving some runoff water from the lake being drained. When the conditions allow, I will either hike or kayak back to that lodge and see if it is now being occupied.

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Posted in 2013, Blog, Landscape Photography, Mammals, Nature Photography
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