Every weekend I strap Levi to my back–all 28.5 pounds of him–and head out into the woods for a little father-and-son nature hike. We both have a good time at some of our favorite places like West Point on the Eno or Occoneechee Mountain. It’s a good workout for me, too–I’m reminded of my backpacking days in the Boy Scouts of America.
Last weekend we decided to stay a little closer to home with a short hike down to Northgate Park, our beautiful 17-acre city park just a couple of blocks from home. A good section of the park has been transformed into a natural habitat after a stream restoration project from a few years ago. Along the banks of Ellerbe Creek is a “no-mow” zone which has grown wild with river birch, pine trees and a variety of plants and brush.
Apparently a group of beavers like it too, and have taken up residence there. I had spotted a small lodge a couple of weeks ago when walking across the bridge, so Levi and I decided to investigate. We followed one of the little footpaths down to the banks of the Ellerbe in view of the lodge. I took Levi out of the backpack and we both sat for a few minutes.
It wasn’t long before we saw a beaver swim from one side of the creek towards the lodge, then disappear. Regretfully, I was not fast enough to take a picture with my iphone, but Levi can vouch for me. He saw it too and started pointing and babbling excitedly. He kept running in the direction of the lodge, and I kept pulling him back, afraid that a beaver might jump out at him.
We went back a few days later, hoping to get another glimpse of beaver. Although we didn’t see any this time, we found footprints in the sand and gnawed bits of wood everywhere. We also discovered a second, smaller lodge further downstream, as well as what I think was the beginning of a third next to a concrete pipe. In the coming months and years it will be interesting to see what develops. Will their construction projects have any negative impact on the stream restoration there, creating challenges for the City? I will have to have a chat with friends in City Stormwater Services. Who knows, maybe Durham will have a second Beaver Marsh Preserve some day.