I noticed a new pile of sticks across the river last month. It’s an oddish place for a beaver to build a den in the summer, as the beach on this side gets heavy and exuberant use when the sun is shining, so it didn’t really register, but we hit an afternoon after some rain last week and got to watch the show.
Just before this shot, the beaver had been coming towards the three Mergansers who were minding their own business floating about and enjoying the day.
Then he turned and headed upstream. It was unclear, as I don’t actually know how beaver brains work, whether the Mergansers were a perceived threat (what kind of threat could a duck be to a beaver?), or if they had a past history of hanging around to purposely annoy him, or if it was some sort of catch me if you can game.
You would think that a human would be a larger threat than a duck (maybe beavers species memory has forgotten the whole Hat thing), but he came right down in front of me…
… before another of the Mergansers arrived and he turned…
… to find the rest of the family taking up position.
At the point the last two flew in and he was surrounded, he gave a good thwack and dove. I had a bad moment thinking a duck was going to get pulled under the surface (probably an unreasonable fear, but, again, I don’t know how beaver brains work).
Having been totally oblivious up to this point, the thwack! got Max and Ebb’s attention.
The Mergansers took up position in the front yard again, with the beaver patrolling the perimeter.
Max and Ebb were on the beach watching, and the beaver was swimming in circles between the Mergansers and the dogs…
… until the beaver finally got thoroughly fed up with all the unwanted company and dove with a huge and very clear fwap of the tail.
Someday, we really need to learn about that swimming thing.
all images Loree Harrell; 2013