Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Mattabesset River - First Trip of the Year

I put in at the old tavern launch. The tavern doesn't exist anymore, but the launch does.  This river would be one of Connecticut's best day trips if the traffic noise from a nearby main road wasn't so loud.  Even so, it is still a good area with lots of wildlife and a large marshland buffer that preserves a certain amount of wildness...it's just the noise that detracts.

The low winter sun is filtering through a the clouds causing a golden glow on the landscape.  The air is near calm and about 40F...pretty mild for this time of year.
Coming down out of the forest I spot a low beaver bank burrow.  It may be in use as it looks sealed well enough.  I would expect more winter feed than there is to be stashed in the water.  A few hundred yards further is a lodge that I remember from past trips.  It's another bank burrow, but it is collapsing and not in use.  Abandoned beaver lodges collapse quite fast disappearing from common view in two or three years although if you rummage around the stick debris lasts much longer.

The next lodge is just above the broadest area of the marsh.  Because of its high conical shape, I name it the Tepee beaver lodge.  The peak is a full 6 feet high and this colony, no doubt, is raising young.  Lodges get enlarged when the mated pair start reproducing.   I do a photo survey of the lodge, shooting pictures from the cardinal directions.
Tepee Beaver Lodge
I spot a perched Bald Eagle about a 1/4 mile below.  When I get there I find four muskrat lodges in plain sight.  I wonder how many the Eagle can see from its perch.  The nearby eagle nest doesn't look used.  I didn't see any activity last year.
Muskrat lodge - about 30 inches tall with old eagle nest in the tree behind
As I make the few meanders to the mouth of the river where it meets the much larger Connecticut River, I spot another pair of lodges situated about 75 yards apart (pretty close for beaver that are very much territorial).  The nearest is a low and fairly new bank burrow.  Farther in along a dead end channel is a much larger bank burrow built using the root ball of a downed tree...Root Ball Lodge and Near Root Ball Lodge go the names.
Root Ball Lodge
I turn back from the mouth of the river.  As soon as I can see it, I spot the Eagle still perched although it leaves soon after.

After passing Tepee Lodge I almost paddle under a Red Tail Hawk before seeing it.  I do get a nice close up view of its coloring as it flushes.

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