At last, I spot a frog at the pond.

The surface of the beaver pond is a patchwork of pond lilies, algae and open water reflecting the emerald green of lush vegetation along its shore. Collectively, these provide cover to an equally diverse population of animals.

 

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It’s no secret that the pond is home to many frogs. They make plenty of noise late in the day. But, spotting one is usually difficult. Today, however, one of the amphibians perches in plain sight on a floating log.

 

 

Across the pond, a green heron flies by and comes to rest on the branch of a dead tree.

 

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Later, three wood ducks swim by, a hen (female) and two drakes (males) distinguished by their white chin straps. In summer, wood duck drakes closely resemble the hens. Later in the year, they will grow new feathers in bright colors, known as their “breeding colors.”

 

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Near the cattail marsh, dividing the upper pond from the lower pond, a Wood Duck hen leads her five tiny ducklings to the opposite shore.

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Suddenly, the hen stops and her babies cluster around her. Something has frightened them.

 

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A snapping turtle thrusts its head to the surface of the pond for a gulp air before disappearing again under the green algae. Snapping turtles have been known to eat baby ducks, and one may have spooked the Wood Ducks.

 

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Satisfied that the coast is clear, the duck family continues its traverse to the opposite shore.

As the sun begins to set, a v-shaped wake appears on the surface of the pond. It comes nearer and nearer until, finally, a brown head comes into view. It’s a beaver, swimming with most of its body just under the water’s surface.

 

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Typically, beavers are active after the park closes at sunset. But, midsummer’s short nights leave less time for activities like foraging for food and working on dams. Clearly, a change of schedule is needed.

After a few minutes, the beaver disappears in the floating forest of pond lilies.

 

 

 

 

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