Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Beaver Ponds

We recently covered rodents, including beavers, in our science text. We've been waiting for a nice enough day to head south about 30 minutes to the beaver ponds, formally known as McLane Creak Nature Trail. My family hadn't been there; I've only visited once before, about 14-15 years ago. Today was are first day of really nice weather so we seized the opportunity and headed out.

The trail consists of two main loops: the shorter one goes just around the large beaver pond and is only about .6 miles long; the longer one goes across McLane Creek and is about 1.1 miles long. What the website I linked to doesn't tell you is that a log bridge on the longer trail is permanently out, preventing you from being able to walk the entire loop. Because of this, we only got to see about half of the long trail before we had to turn back. It was worth the walk though.

Along the trail, we found signs telling about various plants and animals in the area. This is the first one we found along the boardwalk next to the larger pond.


Here's a nice photo of the larger beaver pond. As you can see, the trees still think it's winter around here.


Scott ended up carrying Josh most of the way. He fell asleep on the way and was still a bit too sleepy to walk. Once he woke up, he refused to hold hands. Some of the boardwalks don't have rails and we didn't feel comfortable letting him walk without holding hands. When we got to the end of the longer trail, he got down and immediately decided to climb up onto this "bench" next to the rail to look over at the "wa'er". The water was McLane Creek, a spawning ground for salmon in the late summer/early fall.


We saw lots of these yellow flowers. Most of them weren't open yet. We're hoping someone can tell us what kind of flower it is. Someone on a message board I frequent told me it's a Western Skunk Cabbage which explains the skunk smell we kept smelling.


We headed back to the shortcut trail and came to a bench where we got to see plenty of interesting things, like this turtle sunning itself on a log in the middle of the pond. (Look closely at the center of the log. Clicking the photo should get you a larger version.)

We also saw mallard ducks and two rough skin newts in the water. We found out that it was a good thing we didn't try to catch the latter; they're very poisonous. One-thirtieth of the toxin on their skin can kill an adult human if ingested. You can also suffer some skin irritation if you touch them. So you definitely don't want to catch it, get the toxin on your hands, and then forget not to touch your mouth.


Look closely at the center of this photo (below and just to the right of the evergreen) and you'll see one of the beaver lodges. There was another one closer to our side of the pond but we didn't know about it before going and didn't see it.


Here's Mika checking out the turtle and beaver lodge with our binoculars.


Towards the end of our walk, we found this smaller beaver dam creating a smaller beaver pond. It was much closer and easier to see. Not far from here, we also found some older beaver chew marks on some trees.

Unfortunately, we didn't see any beavers. I've read that early morning is the best time to see them and we were there in the afternoon. It also requires quiet patience which isn't easy when you have a 2 year old with you.

If you live locally and choose to visit, I recommend finding a restroom BEFORE you get there. The bathroom at the trailhead is a pit toilet, and today it was extremly underserviced, if you know what I mean. There was no way I was going to use it. Ewwww!

By the way, here's a recent, interesting news article concerning beavers. A beaver dam on Whidbey Island (north of us a few hours) burst sending a 10-foot cascade of water, trees, and debris into eight houses. It caused quite a bit of damage.

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2 Comments:

Too Many Hats said...

I tagged you on my blog - 5 favorite things about being a mom blog tour

Larry Clemons said...

I love this post and the one following. I am from Issaquah and for as many times as I have been down I-5 I had no idea the Tumwater Falls area was so pretty. I will definitely put it in the "to see/do" list for the next time we head south or perhaps to the beach. As long as I have lived in the NW, I have never heard of the rough skinned newt. Good info!

Thanks! I have your blog on my favorites list.

Larry
http://dadshomeschool.wordpress.com/