Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beaver sign at Quabbin Reservoir

A beautiful day at Quabbin (gate 35) today, enjoyed by Vivian, Susan, and Janet. Despite the fact that an inch of new snow covered the ground, we found plenty of fresh (and old) tracks. In the upland area, we picked up several moose trails, a few moose beds, some piles of scat, and plenty of feeding and thrashing sign. Fresh weasel tracks, old otter slides, and an actual porcupine (in the old foundation off the dirt road) were among the highlights.

After skirting around a patch of phragmites, we found a beaver dam near the shore of the reservoir, southwest of the gate, which we never noticed before. There were a lot of fresh beaver tracks, beaver debris, and plenty of fresh cutting.

These desperate beavers have already cut most of the deciduous trees and are now working on the conifers. But even poor quality food is better than none at all, which is (almost) what they got after cutting the white pine in the photo, since it slid down but remains hung up in the vegetation. It would be interesting to return to this spot to see if they try to cut the tree again.

I saw evidence of such repeated attempts once before in a beaver wetland in Bolton: Beneath a tree hung up like the one in the photo, were two 1-2 foot sections of log lying on the ground, indicating that the beavers kept trying to cut the tree each time it slid down. But the upper portion of the tree remained stuck amongst the branches of adjacent trees, so the beavers never got the distal twigs that they're really after, and apparently they finally realized that the tree was not going to fall, and gave up.


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