Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beaver Update and the Utica Peregrines

A Beaver kit performs the carrot anticipation twist

All seems to be well with our beaver colony. They still live and work at Secret Pond, which is the most secluded pond on the property. More than 2 months after the major dam collapse and the disappearance of half the original colony, the surviving family members are performing all essential tasks and in the best traditions of their kind, they are adapting their environment to fit their needs.
Julia, the colony's matriarch, feeds on some tasty Aspen leaves
The season's 4 new kits are plumping up fast and have easily doubled their size from a few months back. They still engage in playful shoving matches with each other, but now they also are seen exploring on their own and even traveling into the furthest reaches of the colony's domain. A few days ago one of the kits followed its mother about 100 yards overland into a meadow to collect some Quaking Aspen boughs.
2 beaver kits enjoying a friendly shoving match

Occasionally, one of them actually wins one of these bouts -- it's usually the plumpest one
One kit has been observed doing some fairly competent dam building –or more precisely, dam fortifying. This little guy was seen making trip after trip to the dam with armfuls of mud –all  freshly dredged from the pond bottom. Diligent work on the part of this kit and probably at least one of the adults has brought the 3rd Pond's water levels high enough to make that pond's lodge more usable.
A kit swims up to its giant 2-year old brother, Blueberry

The rising water levels at the 3rd pond have submerged some grasses and have afforded beavers with the ability to graze in safety. As one kit continued to work on the dam, another one took the opportunity to help itself to grass and other drowned plants.
A kit munches on grass that it freshly harvested from the bottom of the pond
One of the kits works on the dam at 3rd pond

The new lodge at Secret Pond is made from a dislodged section of the original 3rd pond dam. The beavers have added material to the exterior, while hollowing out the interior. The size of the inner chamber must be fairly large, for I watched Blueberry (the 2-year old) drag a substantial piece of Aspen trunk into it through one of the structure’s underwater entrances. It’s incredible to think that there would still be room for any beavers with that log in there.
Blue Vervain blooms all around the meadow that was once the beaver's largest pond
A new pair of Peregrine Falcons (on the ledge below the 2 windows) perch on Hotel Utica
It appears that we still have Peregrine Falcons in Downtown Utica. On Saturday, I visited the area with local wildlife photographer, Dave Cesari. After an hour of scanning and seeing nothing in the way of raptors, we finally saw a pair of adult Peregrines perched next to each other on Hotel Utica. Neither of these birds had been photographed before and its thought that they arrived here during the summer to claim the territory. Back in the spring we had a procession of up to 5 different Peregrines in the downtown area –all but one male were immature birds and none of them were able to lay claim to the territory.
The male Peregrine Falcon - picture by D Cesari
It remains to be seen if this new pair is merely transient, or if they will become permanent year-round residents. Of course, this has renewed our hopes of having a nesting pair in the city once again. We shall see.
The female Peregrine Falcon - picture by D Cesari

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