Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beaver Ponds in Spring

The day started cloudy, which allowed the woodcock peenting and twittering to continue a little longer until 6:30 am or so this morning. The day unfolded much like yesterday, with temperatures reaching into the high 60s by mid-afternoon. A modest breeze and some cloudiness kept it from being a "too hot" day.

Kodi and I wandered the Sweet Trail today with friends and dogs. This is an especially great trail in spring as it passes many wetlands. And spring has arrived there, with the ponds mostly free of ice. A beaver in one of the bigger ponds was swimming about, touring its territory, warning us and its lodge mates with a couple loud slaps.The beavers were clearly busy with new harvesting operations to replenish the dam and lodge and to find fresh food.
The plethora of beaver ponds in this region between Durham and Newmarket lie within a large block of conserved land. The lands were conserved, in large part, to protect the wetlands and the ducks and other wildlife that use them. Many, many ducks pass through these wetlands during migration and many stay and nest. Today we saw a large flock of ring-necked ducks, perhaps the most beautiful native duck. These birds will continue on north to nest. Pairs of mallards and Canada geese have already staked out territories. Wood ducks and red-breasted mergansers were still checking things out.

Sunlight filtered down through the tall red oaks, a mourning cloak floated by. This large brown butterfly with bright yellow borders overwinters and is the first butterfly that we see in the spring each year. A few spring peppers, sounding like small birds in the trees, were peeping. They had not yet made the trek to the nearby ponds for breeding.

The common polypody has unfurled and looks lush on its sunny, rocky habitats.This warm air will continue to push things along.


  1. Ellen, your 3 most recent posts (Beaver Ponds + Woodcock Return + Early Spring) are such interesting and vivacious vignettes about the new season that will officially begin in one short week.
    Thanks, as always, for taking time to share your observations and perspectives via your Blog postings!


  2. Thanks John. This is such a wonderful time to be outside. I think I've officially shifted my allegiance from winter snowshoeing to bare boot walkabouts in our early spring down here! Ellen

  3. Happy to see that spring is finally there. I just wish our woodcocks has stayed here a bit rather than heading straight to New Hampshire..........We made two attempts to see or hear them in one of the few likely spots in Philadelphia with no luck at all. But it's nice to see that they are where they should be.

  4. Thanks Ken -- yes we have all of your woodcocks! They were singing and twittering away this morning. Although with the warm weather and even warmer next week they may leave here as well. I am still waiting for a phoebe to show. Ellen