Pine Swamp Beaver Pond

Floating grass mounds

Floating grass mounds

Pine Swamp, West Cornwall, Connecticut.

These shots were up and downstream of the main beaver pond and lodge at Pine Swamp. This time of year the water is low enough so the grass mounds seem to be floating on top of the ice covered water.

This day the ice wasn’t thick enough to support us so we had to hop mound to mound to get across where the dam wouldn’t support us. It was hairy in places, falling in here would be no fun at all, very muddy and cold and 25F with wind chill. We carry extra clothes and there’s an Appalachian Mountain Club “hut” a quarter mile up a hill from here but still, best to be careful.

One of our party did break through and got her foot wet but she was fine and continued on like nothing had happened. Thank god for wool socks.

Floating grass mounds

“Bird” ice on beaver dam

"Bird" ice on beaver dam

Pine Swamp, West Cornwall, Connecticut.

A group of us took a hike up to the Pine Swamp Beaver Pond the other day. It was frozen enough to cross the various beaver dams but not so frozen that it was impossible to fall through the ice (which one of our party did to no ill effect except slight humiliation and laughter).

I had on my glove liners so had no exposed hands while mittens off for shooting but my hands still got cold (it was about 25F with a bit of wind chill).

This was shot while crossing the first of many beaver dams. Not the most stable place to stop and shoot but when ice patterns appear, one has to make an attempt.

Note the bird formed in ice in the upper right (with beak in a muffler it seems). I admit that I didn’t see the bird until I processed the images but I do like it.

Return to Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

West Cornwall, Connecticut.

Loren and I hiked up to Pine Swamp on the Appalachian Trail in about 8″ of wet snow. No spikes or snowshoes needed but gaiters helped keep us dry. This is always a great place to explore in winter when the chance of encountering Lyme ticks is lessened (but not impossible).

There wasn’t much ice to shoot and the swamp edge was tough to get near for fear of falling in but there’s almost always plenty to shoot in this magnificent place.

The good news is that there was fresh evidence (small trees recently chewed and taken down for food) that beavers are active here again. Last year we thought this large beaver ecosystem was abandoned but in fact, there’s plenty of evidence that it’s being developed again.

Reflection in Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

Snow clump in Pine Swamp

Snow clump in Pine Swamp

High contrast Pine Swamp

High contrast Pine Swamp

West Cornwall, Connecticut. The last time we hiked up to this beaver pond it looked like the beavers had abandoned it but this day there was fresh evidence of beaver activity. The wood ticks were also plentiful and it was a constant struggle to get them off before they found a way to skin. Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis are serious problems around here so one can’t be too careful.

I decided to try the Ricoh GR’s high contrast black and white filter setting on this landscape and I really liked the way things looked on the LCD screen, was less sure what they might look like on my computer’s screen but the only way to find out was to try.

This is a new way of seeing both urban and forest landscape for me and I know in time I’ll become more comfortable with it but I can see that it’s going to grow on me. Most of the images shot like this I’ve seen in the various Ricoh groups on flicker are urban street photography but I don’t see any reason why one can’t use this kind of filter for landscape.

Experimentation is fun and I’m looking forward to more. The Ricoh GR makes all of this stuff very easy, I continue to be impressed with almost every aspect of that camera, it’s one of the finest compacts I’ve ever used.

High contrast Pine Swamp

High contrast Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

Reflection in Pine Swamp

West Cornwall, Connecticut. We hiked up to Pine Swamp to see what the beavers have been up to and the entire beaver ecosystem has been deserted, the beavers seem to have moved on. This happens when a predator moves in or they run out of easy-to-get food or both. Anyway, the place is totally overgrown and tough to walk through and I doubt we’ll be going back until there’s snow on the ground. Nice reflections though.

Reflection and snowfall ripples

Reflection and snowfall ripples

West Cornwall, Connecticut. We hiked up to Pine Swamp yet again in light snowfall. It’s one of our favorite short hikes on the Appalachian Trail. The falling snow pretty much wrecked every shot I got except this one. I did clean up some of the bigger flakes that were in this shot and I almost tossed it but I like the ripples interacting with the tree reflections.

Loren crossing beaver dam

Loren crossing beaver dam

West Cornwall, Connecticut. Loren and I snowshoed up to the Pine Swamp beaver pond a few days ago. It was extremely cold (about 12F) but there was enough snow and while it was post-holed in places it was snowshoeable with our rather aggressive MSR mountaineering snowshoes.

This is a small dam downstream of the main pond.

Not a lot of ice showing through the recent snow so few pictures and it was cold enough so I didn’t want to expose my hands for very long, but it was great to be there as it always is and we had a blast.

Always a good idea to do something like this the day before you know you’ll be sitting on your ass on a cross country flight.

Return to Pine Swamp beaver pond

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.