There are many benefits to working in the education department at The Parklands. One is that we get to introduce kids and families to the natural world every day. Another is that we get to spend lots of time in the parks, which means more chances to see wildlife!
Last Thursday I was in Beckley Creek Park just before dusk. I was taking a short walk to Creekside Paddling Access to see if I could find any birds since spring migration season is just beginning. As I looked up, scanning the bare trees and listening intently for bird song, I heard instead what sounded like chewing. I looked to my left and was delighted to see a beaver just below the paddling access steps chomping on a nice, tasty branch. Beavers are herbivores and exclusively eat the soft inner bark of trees, and this beaver seemed to be enjoying quite the snack!
I called my co-worker Olivia who was up at the PNC Achievement Center to come down and see our herbivorous friend. We then, for the next 15 minutes, watched in almost complete silence as our beaver pinballed from bank to bank looking for an easy meal.
Every once in a while, the beaver would become aware of our presence. In utter annoyance, he would slap his flat tail on the water and dive down into the muddy Floyds Fork creek only to emerge 100 yards up stream.
Since Floyds Fork is such a dynamic stream with regular occurring floods, beaver are typically unable to build dams or lodges, choosing instead to live in holes dug out of the stream bank. While evidence of beavers—such as chewed trees—can be found up and down Floyds Fork, it is uncommon to see them. Beaver are crepuscular animals and generally come out just before sunset or just after sunrise. So, if you too want to see this industrious rodent, your best chance is to visit any trail near Floyds Fork at dawn or dusk!