Is this what it looks like when you dominate the news cycle?
Suzi Eszterhas, who has followed elephants in the African wild and penguins in Antarctica, has turned her lens to the lodge the beavers have built in Alhambra Creek — her first time photographing wild animals in an urban setting.
Capturing the Martinez colony’s quirky behaviors, distinct personalities and ingenuity has been a creative cornerstone for Eszterhas.
”It’s a lot easier to photograph lions in Kenya,” she said, referring to the beavers’ inherent illusiveness and shyness.
Yet they performing their nocturnal activities next to a busy bar and eatery, with motorcycles vrooming by, and the public viewing them from several bridges over the creek.
“These beavers are coming back to their home and tolerating us being here,” said Eszterhas, a Petaluma resident. “We have this unique window to see into the lives of these creatures … There’s this oasis of peace in the midst of chaos. Not all species can do that.”
Eszterhas, whose images of the Martinez beavers will be published in an upcoming issue of Ranger Rick, a children’s nature magazine, has donated one of her wildlife photographs to this year’s silent auction at the eighth annual Worth a Dam Beaver Festival on Saturday, Aug. 1.
The annual festival — started as a way to “throw a party for (local beavers) to make it harder to kill them,” says Worth a Dam’s executive director Heidi Perryman — has become a nexus for wildlife advocates and artists to congregate and network.
Thanks Jennifer Shaw! The article shied away from using these excellent photos, but did talk to artist Mark Poulin and promote the festival nicely. All in all we can’t complain about media coverage this year. I’m hoping that will translate into abundant attendance potential. And that folks will think of beavers differently for a while.
Here’s a wonderful story about a smart man whose mind doesn’t NEED changing one bit.
Pierre Bolduc’s background as an aeronautical engineer and Hercules C-130 pilot wasn’t enough of a resume to prepare him for the task of constructing a pond next to his Alberta property.
He’d made a few attempts to build a dam over several years, but after a downpour washed out his latest earthen structure he turned to nature’s expert dam builders, a family of local beavers, to do the job right.
”There were beavers living further down the valley that had been building dams at a culvert running underneath a dirt road,” says Bolduc, who lives on an expansive property near Bragg Creek, about 50 kilometres southwest of Calgary.
Bolduc reckoned that the gentle lilt of running water played from an outdoor sound system placed above the intended site would attract the animals to the location where he wanted to build the dam. His neighbour, a sound engineer, offered to mix a CD featuring an appropriate aquatic aria.
“I don’t know what the sound of rushing water does to the psyche of a beaver, but based on the results I witnessed, I think it could inspire them to build a dam right in the middle of a sandbox,” he says.
“They went straight to work.”
How much do we love this story! And Pierre for that matter? I’m not as convinced that the sound brought beavers (otherwise every waterfall would be cluttered with failed dams) so much as his own failed dam gave them a good base to work from. But, never mind, I am crazy about this way of thinking and it provides a nice way to show what beavers are good for.
Since labour was being provided at no cost, Bolduc provided them with plenty of free food and construction material. He cleared poplars located on his property that might eventually grow to interfere with power lines. He then placed the cut logs to float in the rising water around the dam construction site.
”I gave them so much wood that they soon developed a 20-beaver condo,” he says. “They built an absolutely huge mansion and a powerful dam.”
The dam was completed in the summer of 2014 and Bolduc’s pond slowly expanded to a body of water measuring about 175 metres by 200 metres. The pond has since become home to numerous trout and the water has attracted muskrats, nesting loons and moose to the property.
This article makes me insanely happy. I already heard from several beaver folk that are deeply jealous they can’t let beavers build a pond where they live. Let’s hope Pierre starts a fad among land-owning engineers. He might, just look at his next goals:
While he’s satisfied with the pond, Bolduc is breaking out his rushing water CD and outdoor speakers for another construction project, courtesy of Castor Canadensis (the North American beaver).
“There are new neighbours along the valley and when I want to visit them, I pretty much have to drive the distance to their place,” he says. “If I place those speakers just right, by next year I should be able to canoe to the neighbour’s house.”