The elusive beavers of Penny’s Bend

I’ve been reading the excellent field guide, Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas, written by Kevin Stewart and Mary Russell-Robinson.  It is a great introduction to geology for those of us who’ve never taken a geology course before.  One of the other neat things about the book is that each chapter serves as a guide to a geologically-interesting place in the Carolinas, complete with maps and directions.   A couple of weeks ago,  I decided to visit one of these places, Penny’s Bend, which is only 5 miles down the road from our house.  A word of caution: there are a lot of ticks  at Penny’s Bend, so you’ll want to wear long pants and a cap if you venture out there.

Penny's Bend

Penny’s Bend has lots of exposed rocks from when the continents of what are now Africa and North America pulled apart.  The volcanic rock also makes the soil at Penny’s bend alkaline.  As a result, you find a lot of plant species there are similar to what you find  on the prairies of  the midwest.  Most things aren’t in bloom right now, but some of the flower species at Penny’s Bend include:  asiatic dayflower; blue wild indigo; smooth purple coneflower, hoary puccoon, and Dutchman’s breeches.

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As I was hiking, close to sunset, a friendly dog started following me. I noticed he would occasionally run ahead of me to the edge of the river and bark.

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After a few minutes I realized that he was barking at the beavers who live in the area. On the bank at river’s edge, I saw a mass of sticks and mud which appeared to be a beaver lodge. The gnawed-off trees around  me appeared to confirm this.

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I don’t know why I did this, but I yelled “go get em boy” at which point he ran down to the the lodge.  A few seconds later, I saw something swimming in the river. It was way too big to be a fish. Unfortunately it was getting dark and I had to get back home.

I decided to go back early in the morning to see if  I could get a glimpse of the beavers.  I didn’t have any luck, but  I managed to get more pictures of the beautiful rock formations, and hiked up to a nice bluff overlooking the Eno.  You don’t get a lot of nice vantage points like this in the Triangle.

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As for the beavers, maybe I’ll see them at one of their other Durham locations. For those of you who don’t know, one of the largest beaver ponds in eastern North Carolina is Behind the Big Lots off of North Roxborro street.  It’s been turned into a preserve thanks to our friends at the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association and the group of neighborhood activists known as the “Beaver Lodge” of Durham.  They’ll be having their annual Beaver Queen Pageant on June 1st, which helps raise money for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association.

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