We walked the Beaver Pond Trail at dusk one evening in October 2013 and had a close encounter with one of the beavers that maintains this dam. We quietly sat on a couple of rocks at the edge of the shore and watched the beaver swim towards the dam a few metres away. He did not know that we were there. We worried that our cover would soon be blown if he exited the water but we were in for a surprise. As the beaver climbed up onto the shore, we noticed that his eyes were completely covered in long strands of pond grass. This did not seem to deter his efforts and what good fortune – he could not see us! Oblivious to our presence, he began packing mud into the wall of the dam with his front hands. After a few moments, he went back into the water to continue the important task of engineering the river.
This next photo amuses me. Beavers are exceptional (and obsessive) builders, carvers and hydro engineers. Who would have thought that they also prep their own firewood… or so it seems?
A close-up view of a barbell-like beaver carving:
While walking around a wetland on the Kinghurst Forest Reserve, we noted a beaver castor mound:
I visited a web-site called “Basic Sets” created by a trapper named Paul Dobbins to learn more about the distinction between castor mounds and scent mounds. I learned that castor mounds are used by beavers to mark their territory whereas scent mounds are created to attract mates.
“Beavers are very territorial and will keep castor mounds as sentinals telling all passing beavers that this area is inhabited and to stay out. Beavers will dive to the bottom and bring up water soaked leaves, mud and debris and place it on the bank, usually within two feet of the shoreline. The beaver then deposits a secretion from its castors on this pile of debris to mark the mound. These castor mounds come in different sizes depending on how long the beavers have been using the mound.”*
According to Paul Dobbins, scent mounds look like miniature castor mounds, but usually there are a number of them side by side.*
“Scent mounds are markers made by the beavers in the late winter or early spring to attract mates”. This distinction affects trappers since beavers don’t react to scent mounds like they do to the territorial castor mounds.*
*Castor Mound Set, n.d., viewed October 14, 2014, http://www.trapperman.com/trapperman/castor-mound.html
Here is a beaver lodge, taken on the Northwest side of Algonquin Park in July 2012. I found my first bowdrill bow near here – taken from a small beaver dam built into the river in a place that we took our canoes over.
This photo was taken along the shoreline in Fundy National Park. A beaver’s hind track?
This photo was taken at Snyder’s Flats in Waterloo. This area is a prime beaver habitat with lots of beaver sign. We even decided to do a “Beaver program” one evening last fall with the Young Naturalist group. The children saw two beavers and lots of beaver sign. Here is some beaver scat: