Saturday, November 26, 2011

Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center: Beaver Dam At Fox Lake – And Wood Ducks

November 18, 2011. As long as we’ve been visiting Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, there’s been a pond just below the dam at Fox Lake. We assumed it was a beaver pond but we’d never seen any sign of beaver activity. Then, on March 6th this year, we saw evidence that beaver had been at work, doing some dam maintenance. Last Saturday we noticed - now that the vegetation has died back for the year – that the beaver seem to have been at work again. The pond looks a little deeper than it did in March.

The beaver pond below the dam at Fox Lake. Looking southwest over the south end of the dam to the dam containing Fox Lake.

March 6th. A closer view of the southern end of the beaver dam where there were two short stretches of dam work.

November 18th. The southern end of the dam – the section shown in the second photograph. The growth of vegetation during the summer has covered the timbers that were laid in March. The beaver appear to have added more mud to the top of the dam. The pond seems to be a little deeper.

March 6th. The end of this section closest to the road. Some new wood has been added and mud packed onto the top of the dam.

November 18th. No sign of the timbers we saw in March but fresh mud has been packed into this section.

March 6th. The western end of this south section, the section away from the road. More new timber.

November 18th. Again. No sign of the timbers but more fresh mud has been packed onto the dam in this section.

March 6th. The north end of the beaver dam. New timber had been added to the dam. Mud had been added but it’s not visible in the photo. Looks like the rangers had been watching this activity and had added a section of pipe – we assumed the beaver didn’t add this - to the dam allow water to drain and discourage the beaver from building the dam higher. Failure of the dam would result in the release of a lot of water against the base of this raised road we were parked on and possibly damaging it.

November 18th. We didn’t see any beaver activity in this section of the dam and the drainage pipe wasn’t there.

November 18th. Looking across the pond at the northern section of the dam. The pond has a Wood Duck nest box, not far from the road and facing away from the road. We’ve never seen any evidence that the box had been used.

But we had another surprise in store. On our way back from Whitetail Lake on November 18th – it was late in the afternoon – we saw some ducks swimming on the pond…

From a distance, they looked different, like Wood Ducks.

An enlargement of the previous photo. It’s not a good shot but it’s clear they are Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa); two males and a female. They swam around in this area for a few minutes and then they swam…

back into the grasses and…

out of sight.

We waited for a while in case they swam out into the open again but we suspect they were looking for a place to settle down for the night. We’ll have to plan some trips to look for them again.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resource:

- All About Birds: Aix sponsa (Wood Duck)

Related posts:

- Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center: Fall Color


Anonymous said...

Great work documenting the beaver's activity. What extraordinary creatures. Wouldn't you like to get a look at it!

Have you visited , documenting the wildlife of the Dallas-Fort Worth area? They have been monitoring a trail camera on a beaver den, and have finally succeeded in capturing photos of the beaver. The post isn't up yet (as of Sunday morning 11/27), but it should be up in coming week. Just thought you might be interested.

And what gorgeous wood ducks - wow.

JSK said...

I've been thinking about trying to photograph the beaver(s). The road is a county road so open 24/7. It'd be fun to stake the dam out and see if the beaver turn up.
Thanks for the DFW link; I've added it to my reader.
We will have to keep a better lookout for the ducks too. First time we've seen them.