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.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Osprey and Otters

Well, I have gotten rather behind and will stay behind a bit, but for Earth Day I think it worth noting that on April 19 we had a pretty good day on the pond. Not the happiest days around here lately. The one beaver we had seen in late March and another (possibly the same) on April 13, has disappeared again. It may have gone looking for company to the Upper Pond, but whatever or wherever, there are none to be seen here now for the first time in my lifetime. Still, Tuesday was a good day.

After a long day outside clearing tops and hauling some logs I dropped this winter (or was it last?), Bonnie and I walked over to the pond around 6:30 pm. Bonnie saw it. An Osprey was perched above the ledges on the east shore. I've heard them from time to time, but never seen one on the pond itself (very common elsewhere such as Mississquoi).
 Couldn't get a really good shot, but took these just for the record.
Then after Bonnie and the dogs went back to the house, I sat down for a bit. While scanning out over the pond to the north, I saw a dark shape porpoise near the main lodge. Didn't look right for a beaver, so I scanned with the binocs. The otters were back. They started periscoping, looking at something on the west shore. Turned out to be our neighbors going down to do some fishing.

The morning before, we had stayed out at the pond overnight (our part). The Common Mergansers were going at it pretty noisily sometime before 5 am: one hen, her main paramour and three other males all trying to join in. They settled down by the time it was light enough for shooting, but we were well positioned for some good shots and video.

Courting still seems to be in full swing and it is hard to figure who, if any will nest. The geese are still here: sometimes just two, but Monday there were 12. Three Mallard drakes were here this week and a pair of Hooded Mergansers were on the Upper Pond. I think the Woodies have nested, but can't be sure. Don't see them regularly, but they have been around now and then for over a month. I saw one flush out of a tree not far from the pond margin and will keep an eye peeled.

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