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Welcome to Riverswind notes

I hope you will join in my adventures here in Humboldt County and elsewhere as I explore nature & people.

I welcome your comments.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Catching a Beaver.

I was fortunate this year to participate in a camera trap workshop with three former San Francisco State University Biology students of the 60"s era.

Photo by R.Tenaza

One of them Dr. Chris Wemmer (above center), a retired Smithsonian scientist, who lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills was our mentor and camera trap expert. Chris writes an outstanding blog on camera trapping: We spent 3 days learning how to build a camera trap, how to use them and put them in the most productive sites.
There was much to learn and Chris had a captive audience of 3 old Biologists who were looking for new adventures capturing wild animals on a digital infra red camera. Just spending time with these great gentleman with storied careers as scientist and educators was a privilege. Dr. Richard Tenaza, Professor of Zoology at University of Pacific,
and Dr. Reno Taini, Outstanding Teacher awardee in California, were the other members of our codger group.

The photo above shows, from left to right: Tenaza, Taini and Wemmer.
Since then I have tried to get photos of the animals in and around my property here on the East Fork of the Lewis river. Until recently I have managed to get some good photos of opossums, racoons, birds, squirrels, mice and deer. This month I finally got the beaver photos that I was hoping for. I set my camera near a Big Leaf Maple tree that had been worked on by beaver for nearly one year. The tree with a base diameter of 2 feet had been cut but did not fall. Instead it's canopy of large branches got hung up on another larger Maple about 25 feet away. The beaver returns on a irregular schedule to continue chopping off chunks ("bullets") on which the bark has been stripped and eaten. To this date there are 4 "bullets" about 20 inches in length and the 5th shown in the photo below about to join the others.

This tree is more than 20 yards from the river with a well worn path through the vegetation leading to it.
The beaver eats the bark and cambium as well as leaves,twigs and roots of mostly deciduous trees. However, my wife and I have watched a beaver from our bench over looking the river eating the bark of a fallen Douglas Fir.

Because this river is undamned it's velocity and height fluctuate dramatically during the rainy season and sometimes wipes out the beavers bankside lodge.

This photo shows the broad paddle-like flat tail of the beaver which is used as a rudder when swimming. Obviously beavers can cause major damage to sensitive riparian areas but in some cases their activities can be considered beneficial. For more detailed information on Beavers see:

Stay tuned for further adventures and more beaver shots.


Camera Trap Codger said...

Congrats on your first beaver shots and the post. Rich and I were in Marin County on Saturday where we set out 4 cams in heavy rain. Its good to see that you are having fun and getting some great shots.

Owlman said...

Well it sure took some patience but worth it for sure. I checked my camera yesterday and continue to get more and better photos.
I'm anxious to see what happens when the next log "bullet" is detached. Thinking about buying the parts for another camera trap.

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