Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beaver Sign at the Capitol Lake Interpretive Center

Text and photos by Nancy Partlow©

Yesterday, I came across a large alder tree that beavers had toppled across the CLIC main trail.     

I spoke to a couple who were walking by.  I commented that  "it must be really tough to be an alder tree here because of the beavers."  The woman asked if I really thought beavers had brought the tree down.  I showed her tooth marks on the branch stubs and wood chips littering the ground.  She was amazed.  She didn't know that there are beavers at Capitol Lake.

Beaver tree-gnawing activity at the CLIC has increased in the last few weeks as the weather has gotten colder, just as it does every year.

Even though I've searched extensively for a beaver lodge nearby, I haven't been able to find it  yet. I think it's probably tucked away in one of the two CLIC wetland ponds. 

I only wish I could have returned after nightfall to watch the beavers continue to harvest branches from their felled tree. That would have been really cool.  A friend told me he once saw a beaver on a CLIC trail during the day.  I would have loved to see that!

I've often observed a male Anna's hummingbird perched in the upper branches of this alder, vocalizing and defending from all comers the large twinberry bush right across the trail, and  a rambling stand of salmonberry bushes close by.  Both these shrubs are good sources of hummingbird nectar when they're in flower.  I guess the bird will just have to find another perch now.
I also found a bushtit nest lying in the middle of the trail, probably knocked from nearby branches by the wind.  It  retained its still-beautiful construction of natural materials - moss, twigs, lichens and spider's web.   

Yesterday's soggy weather could have hardly been less conducive for a nature walk.  But with a good umbrella I was able to take a much-needed stroll and respite. 

My discoveries on the CLIC trail show me that even on the worst of days, nature  provides endless opportunities for wonder, restoration and learning.   In this season of thanks-giving, I am grateful for that.