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Pine Swamp beaver pond overview

If you click through on any of these embedded images you’ll see popup notes on my flickr images.

West Cornwall, Connecticut. Another trip to the Pine Swamp Beaver ecosystem last week during a cold snap to explore and take pictures.

This is an overview of the main beaver pond and dam from the west looking east. You can see the lodge in the middle and the large, S-shaped dam to the right. You can also see a recently felled tree (more photos later) on this shore of the pond.

This remains one of our favorite destinations on short hikes, it’s amazing what beavers have done with this stream and swamp over many generations and the ice is wonderful to photograph here as well.

Pine Swamp beaver pond overview

This is an overview of the main beaver pond and dam from the west looking east but looking further downstream. You can see the main dam but there are at least five more dams below it going out of frame on the right. There are also 5 more dams upstream to the left of this frame. Beavers construct these dams to make it easier for them to swim up and downstream with food (branches and bark). They’re very slow and awkward on land so they build waterways to safely travel in. Pure genius (and a lot of hard work).

Newly felled tree

This tree had been taken down within the few weeks before this shot was taken. It’s about 16 inches in diameter at its base and my guess this was one night’s work for one or two beavers. They took this tree down for food but also for branches to add to the dam.

I’m on the west shore of the main pond, you can see the lodge at the top of this frame.

Channel above main Pine Swamp beaver pond

This channel is typical of what you find both above and below the main pond and dam. The beavers swim up and down this channel with both food and construction material. It’s also a great place to shoot ice.

This particular channel is upstream of the main pond.

Pine Swamp ice

This was shot on the edge of a channel. You can see my left toe in the picture for scale of ice pattern. I’ll post the picture I took of that pattern in the next few days.

Early in my ice shooting experience I did a lot of macro work but lately I’m looking for larger patterns and this is about the scale of many of my more recent images taken with the Sony RX100.

Pine Swamp beaver lodge

This shot is from the east shore of the main pond looking west. You can see the newly felled tree on the far shore as well as the lodge in the middle. My earlier overview shots were taken from that far hill and the Appalachian Trail is about 200 yards beyond that hill.

Pine Swamp beaver lodge closeup

This shot is from the east shore of the main pond looking west, zoomed in a bit on the lodge.

You can see the newly felled tree on the far shore more clearly here.

What’s interesting about the lodge is that when we first started coming here six years ago it was just a single mound (the lower one on the right) and in the last few years the newer mound on the left was built. We’re not sure why, could be an expanding family or that the old one is not habitable anymore.

For those who don’t know, the beaver swims underwater to enter the lodge and has a platform inside above the waterline. The top is not only branches but mud so it’s water and wind tight. But, the water level is important here: if an upper dam breaks and the water comes up a bit the lodge can have problems and the beaver will have to let excess water out of the main dam by making a spillway. Amazingly, these animals have all of this wired into total control and you can see evidence of this all over this ecosystem, way upstream and downstream. It’s simply mind boggling what they’ve done.

Dave on main dam photographing lodge

This shot is from the east shore of the main pond looking west/northwest.

Dave walked out on the main dam to take a closer look at the loge. We routinely walk across the dam, easier in winter when things are frozen but doable any time of year. Just beyond where Dave is there’s a hole in the ice where the beaver comes up and slides across the dam to get into the lower pond(s). Each dam has a smooth place where beavers traverse.

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