I turned and looked toward the water in the direction of the sound but saw nothing and went back to my plant inventory. A few minutes passed, and then ...
The presence of some animals, like this bullfrog, can be an indication of the health of an ecosystem.
This time I smiled as I walked to the water's edge, hoping to catch a glimpse of the noisy culprit. The water was still and murky. As I scanned the banks, I noticed a large mound of sticks at the base of a tree. Upon closer inspection, these sticks were all chewed at the ends. As I had suspected, I was trespassing in a beaver's backyard, and he was announcing his displeasure at my intrusion by slapping his thick, leathery tail against the water.
I often encounter wildlife while conducting fieldwork on CWC preserves. It's one of the reasons I love my job. The presence of certain animals, such as amphibians, can be an indication of the health of the ecosystem on that preserve. If the land is healthy enough to support frogs and salamanders, that means it will also be doing its job to filter, store and deliver clean water to our lakes, streams and wells. Healthy lake waters flow from healthy landscapes, and our nature preserves are a fundamental part of that equation, while also providing habitats for our furry, feathered and creeping friends.
People connect with animals, perhaps because we tend to look at them anthropomorphically. While this isn't always a good thing, sometimes it can be. Take, for instance, CWC's new adoption program, which affords you the opportunity to symbolically adopt an animal who lives on and around our preserves. Your adoption dollars will help CWC protect and maintain your adopted animal's habitat in perpetuity. Adoption kits are available for a donation of $25 (plus shipping) and include a personalized adoption certificate, your animal's biographical information and fact sheet, a photograph and a stuffed toy. Personalized animal adoptions make great gifts for any occasion. You can choose from a great blue heron, a leopard frog, a wood duck, a white tailed deer, a fox squirrel, and of course, a beaver.
In preparation for launching this program, I've been fortunate to see and photograph some amazing creatures on our various properties and even had a close call thanks to my friend the beaver. For a few weeks, I'd been monitoring an area where a beaver was true to form very busy, working on nearly every tree within a 30-foot radius. I had positioned a trail camera facing one tree that still seemed sturdy but had the freshest chew marks. A few minutes after downloading the photos from the camera, I was on my way back out of the woods when I heard creaking, cracking and snapping, followed by a loud crash! I froze, heart pounding, as I realized what had happened. Thank God I'd left the area three minutes ago because the beaver-chewed tree at which I had aimed my camera had just fallen. Luckily, like me, the trail camera was unscathed and will continue to take photos of animals for you to adopt and protect.
Adoption kits will be available to ship at the end of November, just in time for the holidays. To pre-order yours, call us at 664-2166 or visit our website at chautauquawatershed.org to print an order form or order online.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit land trust and watershed education organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty, and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. Over the past 23 years, we have conserved 2 miles of Chautauqua Lake shoreline and 718 acres of land across Chautauqua County, establishing 18 nature preserves. For more information or to sign up for our e-news, visit chautauquawatershed.org.