Every day I head out with the hope of finding something interesting enough to write about and share on my blog, and which I can also manage to photograph. There are days when it happens within minutes, but typically it consumes the better part of half a day. I thought I would take this opportunity to try and convey the sensory experience of this endeavor by describing yesterday’s outing.
I arrive at the beaver pond late in the afternoon, hoping for a glimpse of the two beaver kits that have been seen here in recent days. Hidden behind ferns and shaded by young white pines, I set up my tripod and camera and settle down, hoping my arrival has not been observed. I am accompanied by Emma, my lab, who for 12 years has patiently sat by my side motionless as we waited for the expected and unexpected to present itself. The sun is close to disappearing behind the trees, but lingering light provides a warm glow to the pond.
Silence greets me, but not for long. There is no sign of beavers, but I am serenaded by a lone Hermit Thrush, bidding a sweet goodnight to the surrounding woods and all who reside therein. Soon after the Hermit Thrush’s flute-like song ceases, a chorus of plunking Green Frogs starts up. Still no beavers, but I hear a splash from a corner of the pond that is hidden from view, and out flies a Broad-winged Hawk, whose empty talons tell the tale of a failed attempt to catch a frog or other aquatic resident. I suddenly hear the high-pitched whining of young beavers coming from within the lodge that is roughly 150 feet directly across the pond from where I sit. This often occurs when a parent leaves the lodge, so I am on high alert. Cedar Waxwings appear, perching on snags and flying out over the pond to snatch insects from a recent hatch before returning to their perch.
The sun is all but gone as a lone adult beaver surfaces and heads to the far end of the pond. As silently as possible I walk along the side of the pond until I hear the familiar sound of rodent incisors gnawing rapidly on wood. There, at the shoreline, the beaver is cutting a branch off a limb of a sloping tree that is within its reach. Soon the chewing stops and the beaver grasps the cut branch in its mouth and swims the length of the pond to the lodge where its young eagerly await a freshly-cut meal. When it gets to within several feet of the lodge, the beaver silently disappears beneath the water and moments later is greeted with the exuberant, anticipatory whining of its offspring. With luck, I may have captured more than one post’s photograph, but even if I haven’t, my ears and eyes (and soul) have reaped enormous benefit from the effort.
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