Best Birthday Present Ever.

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 20 - 2016Comments Off on Best Birthday Present Ever.

Yesterday we drove into the high sierras looking for fall color. Instead of finding color we found BEAVERS! I’m posting photos today because they’re beautiful and it’s my birthday. This is lush, gently inclined meadow, and its covered in willow in the Hope Valley. I can’t imagine a better place to be a beaver – and these guys have been busy.  We counted 6 dams. I’m sure there are a dozen.

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The longest dam spanned nearly 75 feet and was three feet high. But I’m partial to the curvey one myself.

It’s all very fitting, not only because it’s my birthday but also because our favorite habitat 15 miles up at the Hung-a-lei-ti tribe was abandoned or destroyed in the past years.

In addition to willow there are lilies and berries for hungry beavers to eat. We didn’t find the lodge yet, but as the winter is creeping in soon, there must be a good stash  in the deepest pool near by.

fullsizerenderThis was such fun habitat, we would stop to look at what seemed like a dam down stream and notice there was one upstream as well! I found this one. Now here is a bonus picture of my nearly favorite kind of tree, the giant ancient Sierra Juniper, because you know why:

 

Nine Years and counting

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 19 - 2016Comments Off on Nine Years and counting

Hey guess what! No beaver news this morning so I thought I’d remind us how long ago the Martinez beavers were in danger. I made this video November 3, 2007. It still makes me smile.


book-cover-jpg-citizen-scientistTune in at 10 to hear Mary Ellen Hannibel on Michael Krasney’s forum talk about her new book on citizen science. She asked me once about including the beaver pledge of allegiance in it, but I never heard more about it. I think we should all give the show a call to ask about the Martinez beavers!

Planting for tomorrow

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 18 - 2016Comments Off on Planting for tomorrow

Last Saturday was an awesome day to plant trees for beavers. Don’t believe me? Just check out the exccellent photos wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas sent me yesterday.

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Isn’t that gorgeous? Apparently her editor at Ranger Rick loved them. And theoretically the beaver article will run either June or July of 2017. Obviously Martinez children don’t just know how to plant trees. They know how to tend them too.

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ethanOur heroes were Ethan, Brittney, Alana and April. Didn’t they do a fantastic job? Etbrithan’s dad is a biologist and was very excited about how comfortable he looked with a shovel. Brittney’s mom said she had just helped all day in the garden so she was not afraid to get dirty. And Alanaalana just sent her application to be a junior docent at Lindsey Wildlife which I was honorapriled to write a recommendation for.  And you probably recognize April from her spirited career as a documentary critic.

They are truly the face of tomorrow’s watersheds.

A grand night for beavers

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 17 - 20162 COMMENTS

img_1489Last night was pretty wonderful. We got to the theater just as a giant beaver was parking there that we recognized. So of course I felt right at home. The theater was dark and richly restored and dripped with stories. Steve Dunsky met us and brought us in while he was settinglit up. I met the audio visual team and figured out where I’d be speaking. There was a bar up front where we were invited to set up a display and we brought skulls and a chew for demonstration,

Mimg_1528ean while others were arriving, donning a beaver costume, and amusing the guests. A slide show ran showing Rust Cohn of Napa’s awesome photos. Bob Rust rode his beaver- bike around the theater to attract interest. Folks were kind of mesmerized – as you can imagine they would be seeing this:

Then folks started showing up, first our own Cheryl Reynolds and then Rusty himself! Then lots of folks I didn’t know, couples and families with children. At 7 the event began with a question and answer session about the Forest Service who was hosting the event. And at 7:30 the delightful women’s organic chorus stepped on stage to entertain us with uniquely written beaver songs. You know I invited them immediately to sing at the next festival and they were interested and gave me this to share.

Then it was Heidi time and the video I had finished with Ian Timothy’s help looked LOVELY on the big screen. I only had 12 minutes but I was a fairly gripping with those minutes. The audience oohed and laughed in all the right places and people afterwards said very nice things about it being an amazing presentation. Even Jon, who has heard me speak more times than I can count, said it was ‘flawless, funny and engaging’.

Then we heard about beavers in California from Kate Lundquist who is now the head of the Water Institute at the OAEC, And then we got to watch Jari’s awesome film on that big screen and the audience took their love affair with beavers to the next level. It was powerful. People really seemed to get the importance of the animal. Afterwards folks hung around to ask questions and express their appreciation and our own Cheryl even used a micto say where beavers were in Vallejo!

It was nearly midnight by the time we were home and sipping wine on the back deck buzzing with cheerful enthusiasm about the event. Honestly there are many things in life I can’t do, and I’m sure readers of this website know most of them. But cheerfully promoting urban beavers with just the right visuals  and timing to a large mixed crowd eager to learn – apparently  that ain’t one of them.

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Surgical Improvements.

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 16 - 20162 COMMENTS

What luck! Since today is kind of a big deal the universe has rewarded me by giving me two wonderful stories to use my my sarcasm skills amocking. Such a treat! By now I’m sure you know me so well I hardly need to say the withering and belittling comments that spring to mind with these stories, but humor me anyway.

Verdun going forward with pilot project to control beaver population

Last spring, the borough approved a pilot project to trap and sterilize beavers that are chewing up the greenery.  Now, as summer ends and mothers are feeding their young, the final phase is set to be carried out. “The last step is supposed to be trapping these beavers, then taking them to the Biodome and sterilizing them,” said city councillor Sterling Downey.

That’s right. The brilliant minds of Verdun Montreal have decided that rather the wrap the trees or plant willow on their precious island, every beaver, including the kits, will be live trapped and STERILIZED before being re-released.  And then, assuming they live, the family is expected to reassemble and stay in the area to keep others away with their territorial behaviors. And Verdun will be famous for their forward-thinking strategy!

We read about Verdun in 2014, and you can bet I wrote them letters translated into french describing what they should actually do to deal with the problem. They liked THIS solution better. Now the news story says this is the brainchild of the Montreal SPCA, but our friends at Furbearer Defenders aren’t so sure. They think the SPCA said don’t kill them and the city said ‘Okay, we’ll sterilize them’.   But I’m thinking the SPCA bears some responsibility anyway, because cities are always coming up with deeply stupid ideas to manage beavers and it’s the protectors job to protect.

And honestly, I remember the Human Society filling my head full of a lot of garbage about immunocontraception being a solution to population explosion way back when our beavers were threatened, instead of sitting me down and calmly explaining that the kits would disperse and go find their own territories when they grew up. And that populations DIDN’T EXPLODE.

I wrote the same on the news story and one of the councilors wrote back that they had to take such desperate measures because ‘beavers didn’t belong on the island’ and they needed to keep more from coming. I explained that they better move the island away from the water then because that would never happen when dispersers would always swim by on their way from point A to point B and have a snack.

This story makes me feel like flying to Montreal and replacing the entire city council’s viagra prescriptions with bromide. I hate them for trying this because I know for a fact no one in the country has regularly done this surgery on a beaver with success. I figure the SPCA is happy to describe it as a ‘victory’ and the city council thinks it’s a ‘win-win’ for them, because if it works it controls the population, and if they die who cares?

On a lighter note we were introduced yesterday to a prehistoric fish eating beaver with its own Jurassic Park CGI. You’ll want to watch this twice.

Pursuit of a fish puts a beaver from the dino days in harm’s way in this recreation of a world long gone.

The Castorocauda was known as the “Jurassic beaver.” It must have felt skittish moment to moment and day to day, surrounded as it was by much larger animals that would like to eat it. Here, we see out little hero pursue a fish and in the process run right into a pair of hungry dinosaurs that think about the beaver what the beaver thought about the fish: “Snack!”

Now before we entirely burst into hysterics that the beaver was chasing a fish, wikipedia advises that the Castorcaudal is an example of the Docodonta which is a wholly extinct group of mammal-like aquatic animals. That did have incisors and did eat fish. Wholly extinct means its not a beaver ancestor, but whatever I guess.

It’s Discovery!

Beavers on the big screen in Vallejo tonight, and then I’m officially DONE with every single commitment. We drove by the mighty fancy looking theater last night and I was able to get really nervous, which was a special accomplishment that doesn’t happen every day. If you’re free tonight come support beavers!

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Beaver Detectives

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 15 - 2016Comments Off on Beaver Detectives

No beavers last night at Ward Street. We are off this morning to look for them downstream. Its starting to be confusing because if mom is pregnant they should be ready to settle down as a family. And if she doesn’t have a permanent address maybe she’s not pregnant?

I”ll write more later. For now we’ll be looking for this:

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Gerry Wykes Illustration

Trying not to worry. No beavers at Annex or Escobar. No beavers at Footbridge or by the corp yard. No beavers at Ward Street or the senior center. If she is pregnant this is nearly delivery time. I suppose she could be holed up somewhere awaiting or tending new kit?

Hmm.

Magic Mornings

   Posted by heidi08 On September - 14 - 20161 COMMENT

This is a magical article from Michael Runtz of canada speaking about his recent visit to an Algonquin beaver pond.

A day of nature revelations

It was a cool and misty predawn when I arrived at Algonquin Park’s Argue Lake. Soon I was watching a large Beaver groom itself atop a feeding bed a mere 30 feet away. It was too dark for photographs but I was content just to watch.

Suddenly the silence was broken by the howls of wolves, emanating somewhere near the far end of the lake. I waited a few minutes after the magnificent chorus ended, and then I howled. The pack replied immediately.

I wanted to wait until sunrise before looking for the wolves. Half an hour passed and then dawn broke.

I quietly paddled my canoe to the far end of the lake, still shrouded with mist. Once there, I scanned nearby slopes for wolves, but saw none. I howled from my canoe and soon the wolves replied, but to the east.

With adrenalin coursing through my body, I watched to see if one might make an appearance. Excitement peaked when two dark forms scrambled down a nearby hill. But the animals were black, and Eastern Wolves are rarely that colour.

A Beaver slapped its tail, informing me that the dark animals had entered its space. Moments later, four Otters came snorting and huffing past my canoe, sticking their heads out of the water like giant periscopes to get a better view of me.

Half an hour passed and no wolves, so I paddled back to my car. I then struck out on foot, following an old logging road that ran parallel to the lake. I walked slowly and quietly, stepping on moss whenever possible.

After a while I left the road and bushwhacked eastward, moving slowly and avoiding stepping on sticks.

Eventually I came to a large pond. After several minutes of scanning, I spotted the head of a large wolf sticking out from Bracken across the pond from me. It stared in my direction, but I was hidden.

I howled, and it stood up and walked into full view. It howled back and began to bark, an indication that it was the pack’s dominant leader telling the intruding wolf to leave their territory. I barked back, and the wolf responded even more aggressively. After several minutes of exchanging vocal affronts, the beautiful animal walked away, content that the impudent intruder was not going to cross the pond.

It has been 26 years since I last had a chance (unsuccessful) to photograph a howling wolf. Thus, I was ecstatic to finally achieve a long-standing goal.

I was also delighted over my encounter with Otters, plus getting a picture-perfect shot of a Ring-necked Duck taking off in the mist. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming; it was indeed a morning when Nature revealed herself wonderfully to me.

Ahhh we’ve enjoyed many a magic morning at our beaver pond, though we never got to see wolves. I am sure Mr. Runtz sleep-clock is broken too, and we probably both wake up at 5 even  when we aren’t planning too. The very first beaver I ever saw was  from the front seat of this canoe where I spent many a magic morning over the past 25 years. Fate and my cerebellum have decided I don’t get to enjoy the quiet paddle anymore so you can imagine how happy I am at this arrival to my porch, under which I will be able to enjoy magic mornings on forever more.

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