Pond Life

Small, warm-water ponds are a nice change of pace and delightful mid-summer escape.

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Adult merganser and snapping turtle at rest… young mergansers might be a meal for this snapper!

Last week I was invited to a private woodland pond to observe and photograph a family of beavers. There was plenty of time to spare in between beaver sightings and I soon became entranced with the cold blooded creatures hunting the shoreline and shallow waters. Most prominent were the bullfrogs. Dozens dove into the pond from the weedy bank as I scouted the water.  Soon after I had taken a seat and steadied the camera, they began to pop up to the surface, bulging eyes announcing their presence.

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Huge dragonflies were patrolling the waters with grace and beauty. This one stopped on a dime and hovered in front of me, seemingly to show off its amazing flying skills and pose for documentation.

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An adult beaver finally appeared on a far bank. It had been foraging in a thicket above the water line and would soon be heading back to the lodge with a freshly cut tree branch to feed its young.

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A conversation about beaver and the aquatic habitats that they create is incomplete without mention of the Red-spotted Newt. Two of the three stages of the complex life cycle of this salamander are dependent on clean, quiet waters like beaver ponds. The middle stage, an immature adult (“Red Eft”), is terrestrial. They inhabit the moist, shaded habitat of the forest floor and can be found wandering around at any time of the day or night.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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16 thoughts on “Pond Life

    • Appreciate the nice comments. A little bit of patience for sure…but lots of luck too! Your recent post was a reminder to me that I need to start photographing deer – there are some beautiful bucks roaming the hills and cultivated fields.

    • Thanks Shawn. They seem to show up unexpectedly but my sightings usually occur along moist, shaded woodland trails that are within a half mile or so of quiet surface water.

    • Thanks for the nice comments. I learn a bit more about the beaver’s routine with each trip and hope to get close enough for a tree-felling photo. It’s hard to appreciate a 50 pound beaver when it’s in the water with only the head showing!

      • I look forward to learning more about the beaver. Fascinating creatures and they seem (wisely I should think) to be quite secretive.

  1. Looks like a heavenly spot! I was thunderstruck by the sight of a snapper hanging out on the dead limb. I have never seen that behavior from them and am having a wonderful time imagining him climbing up there.

    • Glad you enjoyed this one Melissa. I watched the hen merganser spearing frogs along the far shore, hoping she’d swim closer for a photo. She eventually cut the distance in half, but instead of fishing hopped up onto the dead tree in the middle of the pond to preen and rest. I had no idea the snapper was there until I focused on the merganser! I still wonder how the big snapper got back into the water – a backward crawl or a big splash off the limb?!

  2. Fantastic photos, Nick. How wonderful to be invited to a private pond to observe and photograph the beavers. Just last week I was trying to find wild beavers in our county, but the county wildlife person couldn’t help me with anything. Great newts too!

    • Thanks Jet. I plan to return to the beaver pond next week, weather permitting. You’re right – this is an opportunity to see, learn and photograph that I can’t pass up. This region is rich in wetlands and it’s not too difficult to find beavers. However, the beavers in accessible locations – the ones I’m after – tend to be removed or greatly reduced in trapping season. Lost track of how many times this has happened to me. 🙂 I hope you eventually have success with these amazing critters!

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