Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Nest

After 24 hours of rain, a cloudy and pleasant day arrives, and just as after a spate of weather, wildlife behaves differently, so do humans. All down the two mile portage to Portage Bay, people stop and chat with me, asking what I am up to. I talk ducks and beaver to them, as usual, and they are often surprised that such nature is so near. This is the city at its finest and I am so fortunate. I drop off an 8x10 print for J. at the community center (see yesterday's trip). His hospitality went far beyond his job with the parks dept.

Note - the entrance to the Portage Bay beaver lodge is on the NW.

I am surveying beaver structures today, data for series of drawings that I am making. As a friend told me, my maps are the outside of a nesting Russian doll, the drawings are the inside.

You find the entrance to a beaver lodge by probing the depth with a paddle. Beaver excavate an underwater canal so that the entrance comes up into the lodge from below.

A bank burrow
Dug into the bank, branches piled above for protection and to hide the vent hole. There is a maintained 3 to 4 foot deep channel leading to the entrance. The rest of the water in this area is about 18 inches deep.

After photographing and sketching the Portage Bay lodge and the Portage Bay bank burrow, I head out east. Entering the crossing under place, I look up to see ten white motor yachts coming through in a double line. It looks like the British Navy circa 1910. For a few minutes I paddle without making a foot of progress, just bouncing up and over their wave and wave echo.

I head up and over to the NE lagoon to survey the north lodge.

But, as I am about to enter, I spot two bird watchers, so I hold off and drift until they leave knowing that I will flush whatever they are photographing as I come into the tiny lagoon. There are quite a few common mergansers here in the north end, and with the water as high as ever this spring, I use the "summer sneak" instead of the main channel. I can paddle almost 2/3 of the way around the lodge in the high water. This lodge was built on land, probably starting as a bank burrow, but as the beaver continued to drag and excavate, they lowered the ground around the lodge. Eventually it may become a tiny island.

On the little island in the lagoon, I find the first definite goose nest. She has stuffed nest material around and under her and holds her head low and motionless, watches me intensely. I stay back 50 feet, take some quick photos, and leave them to deal with more important matters.

The video of this nest looks the same as the motion at all.

As with the "portage to", the portage back is one of short talks and waves with strangers.

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