Sunday, February 15, 2009

Death in the Marsh

My first day back on snowshoes since my eye operation, and it was a gorgeous one: radiant blue sky, no wind, mild temperatures.  And the snow crust was so hard, the hiking was easy going.  I headed -- where else? -- to my favorite place on the river around Rippled Rocks Point and ambled about the marsh behind Three Pine Island.  The bloody carcass I posted a photo of two weeks ago is now mostly picked to bare bones, with pieces of skeleton and hide scattered over the surface of the ice.  A hairy woodpecker was poking around in one chunk of it.

Unfortunately, this scene of death was too portentous.  I went to the marsh to visit my friends the black tupelos, only to discover that just about every single one of them has been girdled by beavers -- certain death for the trees. It looks like the damage was done some time ago, but I just noticed it now, now that I can walk around in the marsh on ice.   The odd thing is, not a single one of these trees was toppled.  Is the heartwood just too hard for even a beaver's teeth?  Or are the beavers deliberately killing these trees so ones they like better will replace them?  I would find that hard to believe.

At any rate, it's all very sad.  These trees are so beautiful in all seasons (see the twin beauties above as well as my post for January 16) and seldom found in this part of the country. This marsh had provided a happy home for them.  And unfortunately, a home for the beavers as well.

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