Beaver on the bank

December 30, 2009

Approaching a group of ducks this evening in Alexandria, I was quickly drawn to a shape on the nearby bank. The dark mass confused me for a second, but as its tail spun into view, I realized it was a beaver – to be specific, a North American Beaver (Castor canadensis).

I’ve never seen a beaver in the wild and was fascinated as it hobbled around in the sand, seemingly oblivious to my presence.

As he waddled up the hill and started rooting around under leaves, I thought he was getting ready to hide, or maybe he would just continue up the bank. Instead, it emerged with a prize, a giant stick.

My main difficulty from a photographic standpoint was my lack of a clear view as many branches obstructed my line of sight. After some careful maneuvering I managed to fire off a few frames.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to see, but as he brought the stick into the stream, it lined up nicely for a quick portrait.

Maybe at that moment is when he became aware of me, but I can’t say for sure. Why do I think he noticed me? Because as he lowered himself down toward the water he raised his tail, slapped the water and dove. Slapping the water is an alarm signal that beavers use to warn of nearby danger – apparently me.

It was a neat sequence to catch.

The beaver popped its head just above water level as it darted across the stream and dragged his stick along for the ride. After a few seconds, it disappeared into the edge of the bank closest to me.

I’ll be sure to check in on him again. And in case you’re wondering exactly where he was, I’m going to keep that little nugget to myself. I’d prefer that he live through the winter.

3 Responses to “Beaver on the bank”

  1. Cool post! It will be interesting to see if the beaver builds a dam there. Neat sequence of photos to see the animal moving around with its construction materials.

    If that is the stream I think it is, I don’t know if the county or city will let a beaver dam stand – that stream sometimes floods a down stream area as it is, without obstructions.

    From time to time there are stories about beavers on the Potomac and near the Tidal Basin, taking down trees for little building projects. The animals are usually relocated.

    For a year and a half we had a dam across the road from us at Hawksbill Cabin – it finally came apart this fall…posts are at .

    PS, We are looking forward to the arrival of a copy of the book – planning to keep it out at the cabin as coffee table reading!

  2. Evan Dyson Says:


    I thought it was a neat experience. I’m betting you know where it is.

    I didn’t see any dam structure while I was there, but maybe its in the beginning phases.

    I’ll check out your posts. Thanks!

    Glad you picked up a copy of the book. You’re welcome to leave comments on the book page once you can get your hands on it.

    It’s near the bottom, if you feel so inclined.

  3. […] found the beaver near where it had last been seen and made a few nice […]

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