Wednesday, March 26, 2014

American beaver ~ 03/26/14 ~ Ahwahnee Hills

Oh?  Well, look at that!  Hey, there must be a beaver nearby!  We totally missed spotting the lodge, so we backtracked about a hundred yards to look around.

Is that the lodge?  It just looks like someone tossed a bunch of cleared brush down the bank.  That can't be it, no?  

Indeed, everywhere we walked at the newly opened Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park, there were numerous small piles of cut brush scattered about.  No wonder we didn't give this pile a second thought.  They were still grading the new trails, so I imagine there was plenty of path clearing involved.

Do you think they plan to burn the small piles?  We actually saw a couple yard waste fires along the roads from Bass Lake to Ahwahnee in the rain.  One fellow had such a high flame, I'm sure he used gasoline.  Even fires crews in the Sierra National Forrest were lighting fires. I didn't know burning yard waste was still a common practice due to concerns over air quality.  At least with the rain, there wasn't going to be much danger of a wildfire.  I'm guessing the area had a strict fire ban this record dry year.  Wildfires are hella scary.  They're supposedly good for CA ecosystems, but they wreck havoc on the human inhabitants.

So, I checked out the "brush pile".  Look at the angled gnaw marks on the twig end.  What surprised me was the patted down mud and the whole thing just leaning against the sloping bank.  While not reported for this end of Madera County, the CDFW states beavers in the Central Valley are primarily bank dwellers and often don't build lodges and dams.  I did not know that.  I wonder if this beaver may have caused trouble for humans elsewhere and was relocated to this handy-dandy new park where its activities will be encouraged.

I've seen evidence of beavers here and there over the years from CA to WA up to AK, usually just gnawed stumps.  The most I ever saw, including several actual animals, was when I backpacked the Adirondacks in NY.  They have crazy busy beavers back there with lodges and dams literally everywhere.  I bet our North American landscape would look so much different if beavers hadn't been trapped to near oblivion.  As it is, I'm glad to see they're still around.  Go, beavers!


Imperfect and Tense said...

Bank dwellers? Who knew, eh?

I, too, would have assumed that all beavers were into lodge and dam building.

Here in the UK, where beavers have been extinct in the wild since the 16th Century, there are a few small scale, tightly-controlled release schemes in operation. There are also some escaped animals from private collections and probably the occasional 'accidental' releases by well-meaning or just plain old mischievous folk. All in all, most appreciators of wildlife would welcome their return and the increased biodiversity they bring. But, inevitably, there are some land owners whose livelihoods will be compromised by rising water levels and they don't take kindly to another creature altering the landscape for its own ends.

And I don't think I'll see a beaver in Orkney any time soon. Some more trees and a river would probably help!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Oh good, Graeme, I'm glad I'm not the only person who didn't know beavers don't always make lodges. Reading the Urban Beavers section on Wikipedia was interesting. I'm guessing the Bronx beaver was relocated by humans, but no one is fessing up to it. And, only in CA would there be an organization called "Worth a Dam". We can be so hippy-dippy sometimes, but it looks like it turned into a valuable field test with positive results.

Jennifer and Steve said...

We're with you! GO BEAVERS! They can change the landscape so quickly and so drastically. They are so admired by us. :) Glad you found some near you!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

J&S, are there beavers near Columbus?

biobabbler said...

I, too, had never heard of the bank dwellers thing. Very interesting. Yeah, they burn piles here, for sure. And yesterday I smelled it, initially confused 'cause it was so persistent, I wondered if it was a wildfire.

I also wondered how "fresh" that lodge was. With such a DRY year, I wld. think that many lodges have lower water now than they did 2 years ago. A GREAT place to see WONDERFUL beaver damming is in Lundy Canyon, on the east side of the Sierras (drive west from the 395, north of Lee Vining). HOLY AMAZING MASTERPIECE! It's HUGE & complex & there's so many levels & it's in a STUNNING location, so all the little levels reflect the mountains like mirrors, so it's photography HEAVEN. =)

Katie (Nature ID) said...

bb, it does look fresh, huh? Thanks for the photo op recommendation. It's a long way from home, but if we ever do make it that way, for sure, I'll check it out.