I was hopeful this week when someone told me that on Martinez Rants and Raves an ‘otter’ had been seen at Ward street. Obviously I went to look it up thinking that otter are mistaken for beaver quite often and maybe I’d have good news. I was even more excited to read that the sighting took place at 8 am.
Unfortunately for us, however upon skillful cross-examinationm, the witness was certain it was an otter. She explained she knows the difference and enjoyed watching its slender tail for sometime. Sigh. Obviously the lucky otter was chasing the steelhead run which had been noticed a little before. I can’t regret the near miss though – because having renewed hope was fun and it made me look up something about steelhead I hadn’t known before.
Apparently steelhead can spawn several times! Who knew? And they need and flat gravel bed to do it above a pond, Igor Skaredoff told me where there was a riffle once with gravel, I will have to ask him again where these sea-going fish return to. I know that steelhead start out their lives as rainbow trout, and literally undergo a SEA CHANGE (smoltification) when they pass through open water and get to saltwater. They come all the way home to spawn. Which is amazing. Around here spawning usually happens November to April, or in the “Winter Run”.
I also know that beaver dams help them a lot by giving them deep pools to grow up and rich food to fatten up. But there is nothing on youtube about this I can share, because if you search for beavers and steelhead you only get many, many images of bulldozers ripping out beaver dams to “Protect” steelhead.
Which is, as I’ve said many times before, like protecting banks from money.
At least we have nearby beavers to amuse us. Rusty Cohn is sorely feeling the effects of winter visibility of his Napa beavers and has taken to using his drone photographs more creatively. Yesterday he wrote me about looking up Martinez on the b4ufly app and learning that because of concord airport the area west of amtrak (the creek is west of amtrak) is off limits for aerial photography. Sigh. But he got some fun photos of the Tulocay creek habitat.
I SO wish we could have similar photos of our beaver habitat. And of course some beavers to maintain it. Sigh.
There’s a new section on the website I don’t know if you noticed. I’ve been getting so may regional emails about ‘how do we save our beaver’ that I thought it deserved a menu item. I’ll expand it more as I think about it, but I think this is great for starters.