March 30, 2004

Scouting trip

I'm hoping to start a project on beavers later this year, so I scouted a local beaver dam this morning to see if there were any signs of an active beaver. This dam sprung up last year in a lovely location. It is on a small stream in the area that eventually flows into the Pine River. The dam sits in a valley with steep hills on each side. I sat up near the crest of one of the hills, overlooking the dam and the beaver den as well as some tries that were recently bored by a pilialted woodpecker. I wanted to watch the stream for the beaver and at the same time hoped that the woodpecker might return while I was there.

Beavers cut small trees like poplar and aspen and use then either for patching their dams or for eating. They also cut much larger trees. Frequently they don't cut all the way through the large trees, but instead leave them standing half way cut through and let the wind finish the job of dropping the tree. The teeth marks that beavers leave behind are distinctive chisel marks in a cone shape about a foot and half to two feet up the trunk of a tree. Beavers are mostly nocturnal, so the best chances of finding sign of one is to look for then at dusk and dawn, or to find freshly cut trees.

This morning I saw neither beaver nor sign of beaver. But I did get a chance to see something much more rare. As I was sitting up on the hill my attention was draw to some movement near the stream. At first I thought that I was seeing a black squirrel crossing the water over a fallen log. But the movement of the animal seemed too "slinky" to be squirrel. It was a mink.

It's pretty rare to see a mink. I frequently go years between sightings. I was actually too far away to do it justice on film, but it might be worth while to set up near the log that it crossed on and see if it has the habit of crossing at the same spot...

March 26, 2004

March 31, 2004