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, June 17, 2016

Looking for a Bear: Found Two Paintings (will look for the bear later)

As a wildlife artist, I tend to be a rather opportunistic hunter. Most often I just go out to see what I'll see, but even if I have deer in mind when I head out, if a flock of turkeys wanders by, I am happy to switch. After filming the Black Bear last week, I went out to see if he had a regular route or had just been wandering through (bears can be very habitual). I found his trail easily enough, but it is not heavily used. Even so, I decided to sit down for a while and see if anyone happened by.

I stayed still and quiet for over an hour. In that time I saw no large mammals, but the local bird life apparently decided I had become a part of the scenery. Hairy Woodpeckers had a nest in front of me and were busy feeding their noisy brood. 

There will be a painting out of this eventually. The nest tree has interesting color patterns and lichen and the birds have to exit the nest with a bit of a curve that could work with a composition, but they weren't first in line after all was said and done.

The hen Wood Duck zoomed past a couple times and a pair of Flickers were having a grand time. They kept at it just behind me, but being backlit I didn't bother trying to photograph them. Then, seeming to realize that if they wanted to be painted they would have to step up their game and give me some better light, they moved to a different tree more to my side. They were right: the light was good. Moreover, they struck and held various poses. They obviously wanted to be painted. I rarely snub such eager subjects. Not quite done yet, but "Forest Flickers" Bolton Town Forest 12" x 9" acrylic is below. Still some refinements to do, but on to other things for a while. I like to put paintings up for a bit when at this stage before finishing them off; gives me time to recognize at least some of the errors I've made.

Speaking of looking for bears, here are a couple shots from expeditions in Nunavik (far northern Quebec) and Labrador where we have found the bears to be very curious/tolerant of people - most likely because they have rarely if ever seen any.

Top photo by Gary McGuffin on our 2006 WREAF expedition on Mushua-shipu (George River) to Ungava Bay. I had some shots here, but Gary was our pro, so we gave him front row (we were all in canoes).

Bottom photo by Cole Johnson on our 2009 WREAF "Trans-Labrador Expedition" (I was holding the canoe steady).

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