Monday, March 9, 2015

November 8 to 10, 2004

November 8 yesterday we made a very brief stop at the land. The Deep Pond dam still leaks and I think the beaver pushed a little more mud up on the dam.

No sign of its eating anything along the dam, no characteristic nibbled sticks. I assume that as a newcomer, it might be frightened. Meanwhile up in the poplar groove above the First Pond, the large poplar that had but a few nibbles was about to be cut down.

Since there was a chance that it could fall on the road, I continued the beavers' cut and eased it down on the trees along the road. I cut one large log off it, but their favorite part, the crown, remains hung up. Meanwhile on the other side of the pond, down at the end of the Teepee Pond, the ash they had been cutting was down and exhibiting that curious kind of splitting that I often see in ash.

The crown fell perfectly over the shallow end of the pond and the beavers have been enjoying it.

Last night we had a spectacular aurora, mostly green, filling half the sky, and the waves of energy ebbed and flowed at the zenith and even slightly toward the southern sky. For awhile even Orion was pulsed over. The northern sky was a solid glow as if it were presaging a dawning sun coming up over the arctic pole. The bright pillars of green now and then gave way to a shaft of red. For me the mesmerizing show was right above. There was a central cloud of energy which went through measured transformations. Ottoleo saw a heron's head, then a wolf. And around this relative calm circles of pulsing energy would surround it and then retreat. The sky never seemed so musical though the only noise came from a querulous duck on the other side of Goose Island. In the northern sky the aurora outshone the stars, but above and toward the south the stars shone through the aurora. Later when some light clouds moved in from the north, the clouds looked dark against the greenish bright sky. I turned the camcorder on this but nothing registered.

This cold morning there was a light snow and as I headed to Audubon the flakes grew to the size of a quarter. This was fine company for a walk and by the time I got to the pond I was quite warm despite the northwest wind. There were no signs of otters along the South Bay trail nor at the docking rock, but there were two new scats in front of the bench at Audubon Pond.

The beavers have also been active, and as I sat I heard one humming in the well mudded lodge.

The cache grows and sticks there have nibbled bare. The beavers continue to cut the ash, especially along the north shore. One large ash fell on another, that is only half cut.

If the beavers try to cut the smaller ash, it will be a dangerous operation because the hanging tree might fall on the beaver as the small ash gives way. They are now cutting the large ash they had been girdling and the wood they are gnawing into has a pink hue.

I checked the west shore above the burrows and bank lodge, but no sign that otters have been there. The ponds up from Audubon Pond remain shallow. I checked the mud under the bridge just below the Short-cut Trail dam, and saw what could have been an otter print. The dam is well used and for that reason an excellent place to den, but I couldn't see any otter scats, old or new, on it. The lumbering operations continue along the southeast spur of Meander Pond, and still no sign that the beavers have visited the dam. The work in the this open woods is so discreet and varied that you feel like you are strolling through objectified pages of scholarly abstracts.

Here is a paper on beavers and white oaks, there one on beavers and ash, and maple, and red oak. The few birches have been spared and the large poplars must have matured, rotted in some cases, beyond the taste of beavers, since I saw gnawings on hophornbeam and none on the nearby poplar.

One could also study tastes in tree diameters. I thought the beavers would be content to just girdle the white oak, but they are starting to cut into it.

Along one path there were a few logs lined up for hauling into the muddy pond, and up trail there were two downed tree trunks almost completely stripped.

Meanwhile all is quiet up at nearby Thicket Pond, still I took one photo. Just below I had seen the stump of a freshly cut maple oozing with sap, but up by Thicket Pond, I saw an old stump of a tree cut in the summer oozing with sap.

a good contrast between the sticky and the dead. On the way to the beaverless East Trail Pond, I was reminded that every winter a porcupine dens around there. It would have been fun to see it nibbling on that hanging trunk.

As I came down onto the rock overlooking the East Trail Pond, about twenty mallards flew off. Out of habit I keep my eyes on the ripples left behind by their takeoffs and their poop bombs, though I know no otters will materialize in them. Today I was rewarded and I saw two mammals swimming toward the lodge. Seeing two made me think otters. I trained the spyglass on them and almost thought it was a beaver, its head seemed so large, but the whirling tail gave it away as a muskrat. Their behavior was curious; they moved like muskrats on a mission and one seems to have hurried off disappearing into the cattails, while the other slipped, I think, into the lodge. This could have been a brief misunderstanding over territory. They better sort it out because this pond might be iced over in the morning. There were no otter scats to be seen which confuses me. In the past, otters who visited one usually visited the other. I walked over to the Second Swamp Pond knoll and as I peered down at the lodge, a small porcupine hopped down from the base of the trunk of the cedar in front of me and rolled down the slight hill. It soon gathered its senses, and perhaps thanks to a comforting word from me, went back to the cedar

and climbed to the top.

Meanwhile I noticed that the wind had picked up and as it played across the pond I recognized the same patterns of contending energy that I saw in the sky last night. Then all power seemed to come from the northwest. I was about to take a photo of the pond which looked larger and I saw a wall of white coming. I put the camera away for the rest of the morning and enjoyed a ripping cold snow squall. I did cross the dam below and saw that the higher water was no result of beaver activity. Water is flowing out the major hole. That made me wonder if the dams above had been breached, since we have not had much rain in the last few days. But not only could I not see, not only was the ground soon covered with snow, but I was getting cold. So I headed for home saving further investigation for what might be an icy, if not snowy tomorrow.

November 9 after the squall we had no more snow, but it did keep rather cold, and a breeze kept up through the early night. I continued my tour of the pond at 10:30 when it had warmed up to just below freezing. The end of the South Bay cove was iced over, but the willow lodge was next to open water, though the lodge is rather high and dry. I took the short cut over the ridge to Otter Hole Pond, where I paused to ponder if any animals broke the thin ice on the pond, and decided that none had. Up at the Second Swamp Pond most of the area around and below the pond was iced over. There was a patch of open water where the hole is, and no sign that an animal had used it. There was one mallard swimming in the open water 

and my passing didn't provoke a flight. I did send a few ducks flying off the Lost Swamp Pond and then I tried to parse the ripples for possible otters. All seemed quiet and after a good bit of scowling I saw no fresh otter scat on the north shore slope. A beaver had gone up and resumed gnawing the huge maple along the path. Then up at the old rolling area, I saw nine scats in the grass, 

and two on a trail that led up to some digging. The scats were blacker than usual and larger than usual. The largest looked to be the compendium of more than one large meal.

Only one looked more than a few days old, and had a millipede ducking into it.

The number and volume suggested to me that more than a mother otter and her pup had been through here. Plus there were no new scats where there have been a few pairs of scats now and then. I checked the dam, and while there was still a small leak, all seemed in good repair. I noticed that a beaver had resume gnawing a gnarly old maple just down from the dam. I walked over to the rock behind the beaver lodge across the dam, and saw no signs of otters there, including on a bit of snow that remained on the shady side of the dam. The Lost Swamp Pond was mostly opened, but a good bit of the smaller Upper Second Swamp Pond had frozen over. The beavers did break the ice to gnaw on the birch, stripping one half of the bark off.

Bits of gnawed wood were on top of the snow. This pond is quite full and not a little water is dripping over the top. I made my soggy way to the center of the dam and only saw the tracks of a bow hunter. No sign the otters had been through. As I walked over to the mossy cove latrine, I noticed that the beavers are continuing to work on the red oak -- one of the three trunks is now hung up in the crown of a huge red oak. 

Apparently I startled a red squirrel finding nuts around the half cut bitternut hickory that blew over. It nattered at me quite pointedly, tried to abide, and then ran off in disgust. As I approached the mossy cove latrine, I saw that the water around it was iced over so if there was scat here, I would know that the otters did their touring before the freeze. And there were three large scats, looking much like the others.

They were low down on the slope. I thought the beaver lodge way out in the upper portion of the pond looked shaded differently and with my spyglass I determined that otters were on it. One of the brown lumps silhouetted against the sticks of the lodge lurched up and over another lump. In about 10 minutes they ended their nap, with one having a grand tail waving scat on top of the lodge. Soon I saw two otters, a mother and a pup began foraging in the pond, seemingly having great success. The mother's tail was so large that momentarily I thought there were three otters until I saw that she merely had her tail curled out of the water. Though they were over 200 yards away I could still see the fish in their mouths which means the fish must have been pretty big. They concentrated their foraging in what I assume is a shallow flat, and given how the tail waved up as they dove and swam, the depth could not be much more than two feet. They also foraged independently, and one, the pup I think, periscoped a couple times and looked around for mother. Then one swam toward the rocky point, across the pond from where I was sitting, and the other followed. The pup went to the front of the rock

and the mother went into the tall grass behind and off to one side of the rock. The pup seemed to chew on something, then rolled over on its back. Meanwhile, after a poop in the grass, the mother came up on the other end of the rock, the pup came over and they frisked together,

then the pup went back to the other end of the rock, and soon was back into the water. If ever a pup was prepared for separation it was this well fed specimen, but it obviously still doted on its mother. The mother, after another tail waving scat,

soon scooted across the rock,

dove, and soon swam up beside her pup and they foraged together, sometimes diving simultaneously in somewhat circular fashion and sometimes surfacing together in a parallel line.

When they got over to the north shore, I lost them for a few minutes, and I think one at least went into one of the muskrat burrows over there. I picked up the pup again who foraged at the end of the pond. Then a large wake broke from the muskrat burrows and soon after that the mother surfaced as she swam down to where the pup was. I was close enough to hear them now. As usual they made no noises with their mouths, but while I couldn't hear the diving of the pup, I could hear the diving of the mother. I was hoping they would go up to the north shore slope latrine, where for years I have seen otter scat and where I have only once seen an otter scatting. But the mother swam quickly out toward the middle of the pond, the pup followed, and soon I heard her blowing snort. She had sensed me. As she continued snorting they both climbed up on a log and looked at me. I was trying to hide behind a large pine and the north wind was in my favor, but they had seen enough and swimming together they swam back to the north shore and, I am pretty sure, disappeared into a muskrat burrow. It is interesting that they didn't use the beaver lodges. At one point one foraged within five yards of it. While the otters were foraging in the far end of the pond, I heard some sharp hums from the beaver lodge. I was not entirely disappointed that the otters had discovered me, because I was freezing, especially my hands. So I hurried home via the Big Pond, where there were a few large ducks. The lodge which last time looked like the Rock of Gibraltar now, with sticks stuck into it, looks like el toro.

The area behind my perch by the dam where the otters scatted before seemed more worn down, but there were no new scats.

November 10 another cold night but a south wind in the morning bringing clouds and warmth. We went to the land and checked the Deep Pond first. The fringes were iced but there were wide areas of open water. None of the ice seemed disturbed by a beaver -- no bubbles under the ice behind the dam. I looked for signs that the beaver did anything. There appeared to be a bit more mud at the gap, and then over near the low point that goes out in the pond, I saw a cut sapling with a branch nipped off

and two wee stripped sticks in the ice nearby. I studied the ice outside all the burrows and nothing shouted that a beaver had been here. Then I saw a slight trail in the bit of snow remaining on the shore of the pond along the shaded high slope. I followed the trail past some juniper and up to an ironwood at the edge of the woods. I didn't see any gnawing on the ironwood where the trail definitely ended.

But seemingly coming out of the base of the trunk of the ironwood was a maple sapling just like the one I saw in the pond. I looked more closely along the ground and saw the nipped stump of another sapling. Thanks to the lightest covering of snow, I was able to see what the beaver was up to. The trail seemed slight, so despite its skill in moving mud, this may be a young beaver. Up at the more active beaver pond most of the middle of the ponds was open, ice around the fringes.

The water around the cache was open and the water in the middle of the cache was frozen.

I saw a completely stripped log which may be the one I freed of chicken wire. In the snow around the pond it was difficult to tell if what appeared to be a trail was just the snow melting in the damp or beavers had been there. I did see some twig drag marks in the snow. Back in the poplar groves there was no sign the beavers had been back there. I did see a nip at the base of one of the smaller poplars but they may have been there before. The prickly ash groves seems a little more cleared out. At the other end of the pond, the beavers are stripping the trunk of the ash that so conveniently fall down toward the pond.

The valley pool seemed well iced over,

so perhaps the beavers did not get into it last night.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

November 1 to 5, 2004

November 1 a cool day, and mostly cloudy, but using the two-man saw as the sun peaked out, I soon had my jacket off. I finished cutting up the maple trunk, a good time affording more time for thought than seeing and hearing. I heard a chickadee, a raven and either a tree frog or wood frog. Up on the that stony knoll where I worked, I only saw a few stray flying insects and a few that crawled out from under the bark as I cut. Before I got to work, I checked the Deep Pond curious to see how the beaver reacted to the rain we had on Saturday night. As far as I could tell it inspired no new activity and the dam continues to leak at the point where I attempted my major repair.

I saw no evidence that it had been on land and only saw two wee stripped sticks along the shore of the pond but the wind could have collected them. After work, I checked on what the First Pond beavers have been up to. The strong wind accompanying the rain evidently blew down the large maple they had been cutting.

No sign the beavers have visited it since it came down. Back in the poplar grove they seem more interested in the willow, but I did see one poplar branch in the pipeline, to to speak.

There also may be a fresh nip out of a large poplar still standing, but that may be a case of not noticing it the last time I was here. Another smaller poplar was untouched as they cut down a hophornbeam.

I was there at 3:30 EST hoping a beaver would come out as one did the other day at 4:30 DST, but nothing stirred. The cache grows rather in a heap. The red squirrel did screech at me.

November 3 yesterday we had fairly steady rain and today low clouds broke up early and a northwest wind kicked in resulting in a cold but beautiful day. Bow hunting started in the part of the park I enjoy so I decided to check the areas not open to hunting to stoke my excitement. When the muzzleloaders come in two weeks, I'll have to confine my explorations to the East Trail Pond, Audubon Pond and the river. The wind and cold kept me off the river today. At the pipe near the creek into the north cove of South Bay I saw a few mink scats.

The water level in the river is quite low. This is a strange time of year. The November rains fill up the beaver ponds and at the same time the river water level drops. When the northeast wind blows, the water drops even more in the river. The otter trails up on the New Pond knoll were carpeted with wet leaves -- no otter scats on them. There were a dozen ducks on the East Trail Pond who flew off when I arrived. Due to the rain the pond has more water. Since the water drains through the hole in the dam that the otters made last winter, the varying water level in the pond is the same as it was during the winter. Then, when rain or a thaw raised the level under the ice, I would anticipate otters renewing their interest in the pond. So thinking winter, I looked for fresh otter scats, but found none. It will be interesting to see if their not coming is a case of their saving food for the winter, or perhaps they won't come to this pond at all. I walked down the East Trail and then along the north shore of Thicket Pond. I saw no evidence of any recent forays by the beavers, and the water in the canal was not muddy. The cut red oak hanging over the canal has not been touched by a beaver's tooth.

The lodge has not been prepared for the winter. After drawing that conclusion, I turned to look at Meander Pond and saw a dark lodge down there, too far away to tell if it was packed with mud, but I assume so.

For years Meander Pond had two lodges, one quite worn away and the other that they had used two years ago. Either they have made a new lodge, or they built up the one worn away. Before inspecting the beavers' recent work on the east slope of Meander Pond, I took a photo of the remains of their old work just west of Thicket Pond.

The most impressive remains like this that I've ever seen were just off what I call the Third Pond. The cut trees there were twice as thick as those here. Despite my recent harping on the the beavers' need for shrubby areas near the pond, they are doing their foraging here in a park like setting,

almost like a sculpture garden. Each cut raises its own questions. Why cut the maple that's a foot in diameter and leave, for now, the one that is four inches in diameter, and ditto with a pair of ashes? 

Why are some tree cut in seemingly meticulous round about fashion so that the tree stands on a point of heartwood, while others are gouged only from one side?

And does the beavers' propensity to girdle white oaks from ground level to as high as they can reach suggest their recognition of the difficulty of cutting the tree down?

Given that they evidently were building up a lodge, why didn't they concentrate only on the smaller trees that could provide logs of a size they could use on a lodge? Why not save the girdling of larger trees for the winter, because certainly they are not going to survive in Meander Pond without escaping from under the ice as soon as they can. Most of their lumbering is on the southeast end of the pond and there is no fresh work on the south side near the dam. And the dam, which is in great shape, seems unvisited. However, across the pond, a bit up the north ridge, I could see a large white oak being girdled.

The ponds below the Short-cut trail pond seemed to have more water than usual, but I didn't see any evidence that a beaver had visited the area. I did flush a buck and a doe, the former pausing to get a better look at me before he ran away. Coming down to Audubon Pond I could see sunlight glinting off the fresh mud of the lodge,

but the beaver work on the nearby ash pales to what the Meander Pond beavers have done. I fancy that there is only one or two beavers here, and young ones at that. One ash has been girdled to the ground, which I can't recall seeing before.

This is a treatment usually accorded to the harder oaks. The big news is that in the grass before the bench there are otter scats, two of them. They have that scaly grayish tinge characteristic of so many scats that I've seen this year, which can make scats look old. They did look moist, but it did rain yesterday.

There was older scat on a log. The pond is high so many old bank burrows and lodges could be dens but other than a faint trail over the embankment of the pond I didn't see any other signs of otters. There were two mergansers in the pond and when they first popped up together, I dropped to my knees in case they were the two otters I've been seeing so much. There were no scats on the docking rock at South Bay. With the water so low I could hardly dock there now. I paused to take photos of the mud exposed at the end of the cove and there were trails in the mud that rather looked like otters could have made them.

I was late for lunch so I'll have to investigate that later.

At the land I first checked the Deep Pond and saw that the beaver had not done any more work on the dam, affording a cold frog a warmer perch.

The dam continues to leak, but I did see little globs of mud that looked new so I think the beaver is still there. Then I split the maple logs I had cut. I didn't expect this brief loud work to alarm the beavers in the pond below -- they couldn't see me and the wind was blowing toward me. I went down to the pond around 4 pm and as I approached through the broad pines and spindly honeysuckle, I saw a beaver in the pond. I had camcorder ready but when I got to the pond the beaver had disappeared. I stood waiting for about a half hour and two beavers swam from the auxiliary lodge to the main lodge, but underwater. All the while I was hearing gnawing behind me, and didn't think a beaver could be there because that's where I had just been, but as the noise continued I back tracked and saw a porcupine high in a red oak at the foot of the ridge.

When I got back to the pond, a small beaver was out, floating parallel to the pond and obviously wondering if I was there. Then it swam toward me in that typical weaving fashion of a wary beaver. Then it swam back to the cache, nosed around and took a twig too small for me to see in the water back to the auxiliary lodge. It came out again and remained wary, but this time as it swam closer to me another beaver came, a larger beaver, and after a brief nose cocked swim into the far corner of the pond, dove into the cache and took a more substantial log back to the auxiliary pond. Meanwhile the wary beaver stayed on guard below me. To leave, I backed out and though it could surely hear me now, the little beaver did not splash. I also heard humming in the main lodge and I think at least one beaver swam under water from there into the TeePee Pond but I never saw a beaver down there. Perhaps my splitting wood so near to the pond prompted them to be more secretive. 

November 4 In the 20s last night but exposed to sun and wind there was no ice on the Deep Pond when we got to the land a little after nine. The beaver had been busy, heaving mud up where that frog had been perched, and garnished two other mud heaves with pond grasses and stripped twigs.

It mostly stopped the leaking at this point, but water was still running from where I had made my major repair. The beaver had done more work there

and I soon heard that the leak came from a few feet to the right of the repair. I think the water is leaking into the burrow the muskrats made running along the dam. To defeat that burrow I dug away the corrupted part of the old dam and tried to make a new line in the sand, so to speak. It'll be interesting to see if the beaver will do more. While it had obviously worked at the dam, I couldn't tell where else it had been. I saw a few more wee stripped sticks along the far shore but they could have been blown there by the wind. No sure trails in the grass. I took a photo giving a long view of the dam work. 

On my way from the cabin to the remains of the maple I've been working on, I noticed no new beaver work in the grove the grouses fancy. The valley pool was muddy, and still had some ice. So the beavers had probably been through there. But there was fresh work right next to the pond, with a few strips taken out of an ash heretofore untouched, and strips taken out of an ash they had started to cut a month ago. There was nothing fresh behind the dam, then two tall skinny maples a bit beyond the late grove of prickly ash were just cut. I saw a large log floating by the shore of the First Pond and investigating saw that it was a chunk of the willow that hung over the largest pool up the little stream from the road. They cut that a while ago, defeating the chicken wire wrapped around it.

I fished the log out and removed the remaining chicken wire. Going up to the knoll to do my chores, I saw that the beavers were working on the maple that they had worked on a while ago, and then, I think, the wind blew it down.

So they didn't ignore the windfall. On my way back to the poplars I checked on the red oak the porcupine had been eating. The beavers too continue to work on it, perhaps they may cut it down, saving me the effort.

They also cut a small ironwood nearby. Back in the poplar grove the crown of one tree that I had mostly cut down was gone. I couldn't picture the beavers pulling it down since it was quite extensive, then I noticed that three small pines in the area were also cut and removed. That must have lowered the poplar crown. Meanwhile most of the big logs are untouched. The beavers seem eager for crowns, and the willow crown nearby that fell next to the little stream is mostly cut and taken away. Still they had time to cut another prickly ash or two. Of course, more birch are down. On my way back to the cabin, I walked past the lodge and saw more mud up on it, and saw the cache buoying up the cut pine boughs.

Then just when I thought I had a measure of the beavers' diet I walked over four or five ironwood trunks and logs.

I've seen other beavers cut ironwood and then leave most of it. These beavers take the smaller branches and make a go at cutting logs.

November 5 blustery night with a good bit of slashing rain, but it got warmer as the front moved through. This morning remained blustery, cloudy, but dry and around 40 degrees. Since this is not exactly bow hunting weather, I made a quick tour of the Lost Swamp and Big ponds. I flushed a half dozen deer along the TI Park trail, outside the hunting range, and then didn't flush another until I sent two yearlings scampering from the thickets above the Double Lodge Pond. A heron was huddled behind the Second Swamp Pond dam and the poor thing quietly flew off into the teeth of the gale. With my next step a pair of hooded mergansers flew off. The pond remains at the same level which encourages me because it remains deep enough for a beaver to swim to it down from the upper pond. The water fowl were all in the Lost Swamp Pond, a half dozen black ducks set off at least fifty more further up pond, then the geese gathered beyond the lodge by the dam flew off without even debating the matter -- save for one that paddled around the point instead. The birds had found areas of the pond somewhat protected from the wind but the rest of the pond was relentlessly raked by it. Somewhat to my surprise there was a nice large fresh otter scat on the north slope trail, but only one.

That kept me head down along the whole north shore and there was another scat at the old rolling area, though not in the exact place where they had been scatting before. Also there was not much evidence of rolling. This could be the scat of a male otter marking territory for the winter rather than the mother and pups who seem to scat in tandem. Here's a photo of this otter-visited north shore from the rolling area looking west.

And here is a photo looking to the east, which I include to show that the beavers have been keeping the dam in repair.

However, there is still some leaking through the dam, not as bad as before. I took a look at the Upper Second Swamp Pond only far enough to ascertain that the beavers had done no fresh work on the south end of the dam. I should have checked the spillway to the creek for otter prints, but I pictured the otter going over the north slope trail and I knew there was a mud there. But I was wrong, that track of mud is just covered with water. There were no fresh scats in the old latrines along the trail. I went back to the Lost Swamp Pond to check the mossy cove latrine and on my way around the end of the pond, I saw a beaver trail up to the cluster of red oaks that the beavers had started to cut last year. 

The new workers seemed more interested in girdling than cutting. The half cut bitternut hickory that blew over a month or so ago remains untouched. Then the ugly old maple about 10 yards up in the rocks on the south slope of the pond has also had some fresh gnawing.

No sign of work on any of the large trees that remain in the area. There were no signs of otters at the mossy cove and no sign of them in the pond. On my way to the Big Pond, I checked the grove at the edge of the thickets where the beavers had been working and saw that they had trimmed all the crown of the ash they cut, and cut one large log off the poplar they cut. I was perplexed by two small ash that one would think they could cut in one sitting without fear of being crushed by it, yet the trees remain standing a few gnaws shy of "timber."

The trail from this work down to the Big Pond is quite wet. I'm noticing that when beavers drag logs they seem to make a rolypoly trail and the depressions fill with water.

Not that this will inspire to dig a canal. The cache in front of the lodge has grown and the lodge too. It looks like the rock of Gibraltar.

The water is brimming the dam, leaking throughout it, and the beavers have pushed up mud and vegetation (I should identify that stuff.) 

I could see that deer had crossed the dam; not many raccoon tracks, and then at the south end of the dam, near my perch,

I saw what had been missing here for sometime -- a large otter scat.

It didn't seem as fresh as the scats at the Lost Swamp Pond. Some grass was tufted up, perhaps an otter scent mound. While there were not many ducks on this pond, there were flocks of other birds. In the woods at the northern fringe of the pond I saw several nuthatches, and heard some blue jays. As I sat on my perch, I saw a flock of black birds twisting through the wind, and heard peeping behind me but couldn't see the birds. A good hike considering the conditions.