A few years ago developers decided that they would build a shopping center in a field that is in a corner of two intersecting highways here in Keene, New Hampshire
The trouble was it wasn’t just a field but a wetland as well. After fighting tooth and nail over what impact building in a wetland would have on the town, the developers and the town came to an agreement and the shopping center was built on the drier part of the large parcel.
They started by building huge berms and planting them with pine, spruce, fir, cedar and juniper to give the place a woodsy feel and to hide what remained of the wetland. In landscaping terminology a berm is a long mound of soil that resembles a dam or levee but doesn’t hold back any water. They are a good way to reduce noise and they provide a good screen when planted.
I’ll have to give the developers credit for not totally ignoring the wildlife in the area because they planted quite a few fruit bearing trees like mountain ash (Sorbus,) the fruits of which are shown here. Many birds feed on these berries.
Nice ripe juniper berries also await hungry birds.
Flowering crab apple trees offer even more fruit.
Everything seemed to be going well and all of the local birds and beasts happily co-existed with the shopping center. Until beavers started moving into the water retention pond, that is. Then things started to get interesting.
The beavers started cutting down the ornamental trees-in this case a Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryiana.) A tree this size would easily cost over $500.00 to replace and might run close to a thousand after the stump was dug out and a new tree planted. But what should the developers expect after providing a nice man made pond and then an open path from the tree to the pond? The beavers said “Thank you very much-we’ll take it! You can bet we’ll shop here again!”
There are many more ornamental trees in this area and one of them had these beautiful poplar sunburst (Xanthoria hasseana) lichens on it. I hope the beavers will leave this tree alone but I doubt that they will. Hungry beavers have to eat, after all.
Alders grow naturally on the banks of the pond so I’m surprised that the beavers aren’t eating them or the many birches and poplars that grow nearby. These female alder cones (strobiles) have alder tongue gall, brought on by a natural pathogen that causes a chemically induced distortion of tissues. These long curled “tongues” are very noticeable.
Cattails (Typha) grow in abundance throughout the wetland. Beavers eat the new shoots in the spring and red winged blackbirds will line their nests with the fluffy seeds.
For now the pond and wetland are iced over except for the small area shown in the photo, but before long the ice will melt. Beavers are extra hungry in the spring, so the shopping center managers might want to start putting some stout wire fencing on their tree trunks now.
This photo of a happy beaver is from Wikipedia. Beavers in this area are very wary of man and I’ve never gotten a good photo of one.
In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. ~Robert Green Ingersoll
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