Abandoned and left to the elements these nest – two cup shaped nests right next to each other – are rapidly succumbing to rain, snow and wind. Without the protection of the leaves or the upkeep of their tenants it is clear that they will not make it through the winter unscathed. With one of the nests essentially disintegrating and the other hanging on by a strand of grass I doubt there will be anything left in the spring.
Beavers are not the only ones that like to consume bark as part of their diet. Last week in the forest by the Heritage Wetland Ponds I came across a large number of branches that had been debarked. To my best knowledge there are no beavers at this location and the branches were not by the water, so the question is what other animals would debark branches in this way? bit of research reveals that squirrels, voles and porcupines also chew bark for food. based on the amount of branches that had been chewed my guess would be that it was likely porcupines that chewed the bark off these branches. Just like beavers, porcupines chew through the outer layer of the bark and consume the inner bark, also known as phloem.
Monday after school we grabbed a quick snack, out gear and headed right down to the Whitemud Ravine. After a weekend of birding out of town we were antsy to check in on our Great-horned Owl couple. The female is in a large tree cavity sitting on eggs while the male is always on guard in a nearby tree. The eggs are predicted to hatch any day now. Well, they were still there. Nothing new and no indications that the eggs have hatched. Other than mom and pops owl, there was not much bird action along the creek. The lack of birds was, however, more than made up by beaver action. There were beavers everywhere. Swimming in the creek, sitting on the banks and waddling along the shore. We stopped counting at ten beavers and instead focused on trying to shoot pictures instead. Unfortunately it was an overcast day and the sun was getting low so our bridge camera had trouble with the low light. The photos turned out blurry no matter how we sliced it. Either the shutter speed was to slow or the ISO was to high. Even without the pictures though it was quite a show. Some of the beavers were “muzzle wrestling”, they swam up towards each other, their muzzles side by side and then they pushed each other around in the water. The interaction was not overly aggressive so I am not sure if these were hostile or friendly encounters. On our way back to the car we managed to track down a rumoured porcupine sitting high in a pine tree. We have heard stories of this fella from other birders but we have never managed to track him/her down…, until today. Clearly the porcupine did not want to be disturbed so we took a few grainy pictures of his spiky derrière and called it a day.