Peak Foliage

Peak Foliage
October on Preston Pond

Brief History of Preston Pond

Born from glaciers about 13,500 years ago, the original pond was only what is now the wider north end. Probably about 10,000 years ago, as the modern forest started to take root, beavers colonized the pond and expanded it (old dams are under the water surface).

With the arrival of Europeans in New York and coastal New England, a vigorous fur trade grew in the 17th Century. Beavers are particularly vulnerable to trapping since they are easy to find and they were wiped out by the 18th Century. With no beavers to maintain the dams, Preston Pond drained and appears on 18th and 19th Century maps as only the smaller original glacial north end.

Reintroduction in the 1920's and 1930's led to beavers recolonizing Preston Pond. By chance, they arrived the same year my grandfather bought the property in 1946. Ever since then, beavers have lived unmolested (by humans) on Preston Pond - until February 2016. They have never caused flooding problems or over-eaten the surrounding forest stand to the point that they abandoned the pond. Their population has doubtlessly had its ups and downs, but they have managed their affairs here for the last 70 years as beavers did for millions of years: on their own, despite some of their top predators having been exterminated by humans.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Three Amigos are Back!

Two of them are a bit hard to see here, but their heads are just sticking up on each side of the one with the perch. They were having a feast and popping up through the ice at will. I'd seen their tracks occasionally through the winter, including the day after the beaver traps were pulled and I imagine they are the same three I saw in the lower section of the pond back in early December:
We didn't get as close this time as in this shot (Bonnie spotted them while walking the dogs while I worked), but we watched them for a lot longer and saw them eat heartily - mostly perch.
The otters weren't the only hunters on the prowl in the pond:

The only worry was that with the otters present, I wondered if the third-hand report of a beaver a couple days ago might have been a mistake. We thought there had been between four and six beavers last fall, but it was only a guess; we had never seen more than two at a time, so I was looking forward to confirming there were some beavers still here. A practical worry was that as unlikely as it was that they'd been all killed, the pond is six to eight inches lower than normal and yet the dam is gushing water, so has some maintenance issues after the winter: without beavers to fix it, we could lose a lot of water in the pond.

The ice is going fast, so I figured that if there were beavers left, they would be easy to see, so late in the afternoon I headed over toward the active winter lodge.
.I needn't have worried. I didn't even reach the ledge on the east shore before one spotted me before I spotted it and I heard that familiar splash. After some shots it ducked under the ice and headed toward the lodge. I followed and when I got there, a beaver was snacking at the bottom of the lodge. The first beaver I had nicknamed "Red":
for obvious reasons. The beaver at the lodge seemed darker and was also much more wary. I didn't get a good shot, but had the impression it was a second beaver. I will confirm that as I can. I knew they would likely be there, but even so, it made my day to see them.

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