Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting Ready for Winter-Our Beavers

I was walking along the trail yesterday and  I came across this...

 And then I came across this...
The Beaver Lodge (actually it is a bank burrow)  is in the foreground
and their food branches are frozen in the lake ice.
Our beaver has added to his lodge. He put fresh mud on the top and added a few more branches to the structure. He also gathered a bunch of branches at the entrance to eat during the winter. It has only been about 5 days since the lake froze in the bay. In the fall, beavers cache (store) branches and logs in the water, near a lodge or bank burrow so it is easy to get at in the winter. Beavers will go ashore in the winter as long as they can break through the ice at the pond's edge. More information about beavers on my favorite nature site EEK!

 One of my fisherman says that he has seen a total of 6 beavers! And one is the size of a medium sized dog! He said that they are very busy on the "point" chewing down the Vicki Martinez memorial Willow tree and taking it away.

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all rights reserved 2012 Valerie J Wright

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nature Stories--A Branch

We notice a scar on a person's face and, if they are willing, they tell us the fascinating story behind it. Nature cannot tell us its story. We collect and read the signs left behind and write the story ourselves. 
Picture taken in Wyalusing State Park near Prairie Du Chein, Wisconsin
I was walking the Sentinel Ridge Trail when I saw this branch. Look at it. It has had a rich life. 

Note the burned area in the upper left. I checked out the other trees nearby. There was more evidence of a fire on the base of nearby trees. This branch was part of a big fire that spread over a considerable distance. So what was the story of the fire? The fire could have started naturally with a lightning strike. Or it could have also been man-made. Was it an accidental fire started by a careless cigarette or match? Or was it started by the Parks Department as part of a forest management program? 

Most mature trees can withstand a fire on the very bottom of their trunk. This is a fire that doesn't have enough fuel on the ground to burn higher than a foot. It is natural for the forest to have fires every few years. Think of it as Nature's Housekeeper. When people moved into the area however, they put out the fires to save their homes and crops. So detritus from the trees that would normally have been burned away every few years accumulated. Eventually there was so much fuel lying on the ground, it made unplanned fires almost impossible to control once they started.

You can tell that this tree branch has fallen a long while ago as it is bare of bark. The healthy portion of bright green moss on top means it has also remained undisturbed for quite awhile as well. The wood is soft, dry and crumbles in your hand when you touch it so it is in advanced stages of decay. It has to be at least 40 years old and has probably laid in this very spot for another 10 years. 

It was home to an animal that can drill a nice round hole (see middle of the picture) probably a woodpecker. It is impossible to make a nice round hole in decaying wood so the tree was definitely alive when it hosted the animal living in the hole. As it decayed later in its life, other animals moved in like wood-eating insects or insects looking for a place to lay their eggs. This created a wonderful feast that encouraged other animals to tear into the soften wood to find eggs, grubs or insects to eat (see holes bottom center). You can tell they weren't interested in a home because the holes are very shallow and rough as though sharp claws or beaks tore into the wood. 

More information on Fires and Fire Safety from "Smokey the Bear"

For more information on House In The Wood please go to our website at
We are operated by

all rights reserved 2012 Valerie J Wright