OSU’s Benny the Beaver greets new and old friends as students get ready for the new school year. But did you know that Benny has a brother on the Oregon Coast? Yup, just down Highway 34!
Benny Beaver’s brother, Billy, lives near (you guessed it) Blackberry Campground; near milepost 18 on the Alsea River.
Beavers don’t make much noise so you have to be watching for them. Early morning or late evening hours are the best time to see them. We’d seen signs they were in the area for a few days: bark-stripped sticks floating down the river. We could also see waves in the water coming from something bigger than a fish on the other side of the river. Then we saw him lazily swimming upriver yesterday and today.
It is always cooler on the coast than it is in the Willamette Valley (I-5 corridor from Portland to Eugene). Many times, when it’s hot in the “valley”, it will be foggy on the coast.
Although it’s not the best time for whale watching there’s plenty to see on the Central Oregon Coast when it’s foggy; as long as you don’t focus on the fog.
If I am standing in the fog, I like to get my “head out of the clouds” and go for a drive on Hwy 101.
Most of the time, the fog is patchy along the Oregon coast. As the highway rises, we climb out of the fog to enjoy azure blue skies and the warmth of the sun. Hiking in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area is a great option – but today we’re going to Florence for groceries and fuel (the cheapest fuel in Oregon).
We stopped at the overlook of the Heceta Head Lighthouse, just north of Sea Lion Caves, on this foggy morning. We could not see the lighthouse until we drove back by later in the afternoon. But I enjoy seeing how the cormorant chicks are growing. The chicks aren’t as dark and shiny-black as their parents. The common murres are still there but I can’t tell if any of these are chicks.
Of course, there’s always the option of driving inland, up a river, for other un-foggy options. This photo was taken near Blackberry Campground, 18 miles east of Waldport.
The elk calves still have their spots and feed in open fields with the rest of the herd.
I’m not sure if the cow on the left is the mom but she’s not happy with the calf (ears down). And the calf is talking to her (mouth open).
I used a proven wildlife viewing technique as I looked over the Alsea River this morning: If something looks out-of-place, look closer.
Down-river, under dark cover, I could see something white bobbing in the water near the shore. But it wasn’t bobbing at a rate that was consistent with the movement of the river. So I zoomed in and caught the beaver munching!
Without anything to compare his size to, I can’t always tell if it’s a beaver or a nutria. But I can see the outline of his tail so it is for sure a beaver!
I sure hope they bring their kits out to show me sometime!
The duck was something else that looked out-of-place before it moved to this spot. He was sitting between 2 rocks and his dark head just looked like a stick in an odd place in the river. The next time I looked in that direction, this stick had legs.
Beavers have from 1 to 6 kits per pregnancy; one pregnancy per year. The more food that is available, the more kits she’ll have.
The young stay with the parents for 2 years, then they go off to find a mate and establish their own territory.
They will not overpopulate an area because they will chase others away from theirs.
They store the branches underwater. This part of the river is out of the main flow of current. But the level is affected by the tide.
Somehow they are anchoring the branches so they don’t float away when the water gets high. They are pretty good engineers!
Beavers mate for life. I’ve noticed a consistent behavior over the last weeks that I’m going to speculate on (so feel free to comment if you speculate, or know, differently).
As soon as it gets light enough for me to see them out my window, I am watching them. The four feed independently. At one point, seeming to be associated with how light it is, 3 beavers swim away. Sometimes one signals with a splash. But one always stays longer than the others. Sometimes one comes back to feed some more. I’m guessing the largest one is the female. She’s probably pregnant and needs more to eat. With all this food, maybe she’ll have 6 kits?
I think Dad puts the kids to bed so Mom can finish eating. If they are good little kitties and go right to sleep, he comes back out for some alone-time with Mom.
I’m guessing on their size: from nose to tip of the tail, she might be 4 feet?
This branch is probably 3 – 3.5 feet and 1.5″ – 2″ in diameter?