Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Southland Beaver at the Martinez Beaver Festival!!

Just got back from my norcal trip to Martinez to host a booth at the annual Martinez Beaver Festival. It was a blast and met loads of cool people and made some nice contacts. Martinez is such a cool and funky little east bay town - when I lived in the Bay area I never got a chance to see this town but I really liked the vibe of the town.

There were over 40 booths with topics ranging from native gardening to cougars. But I noticed a common theme of grass roots, volunteer driven protection of animals and natural places. We should expect and encourage such groups in the future as governmental agencies only do so much. And CDFW, like any monolithic bureaucracy, can not pivot quickly enough to address multifaceted and quickly emerging topics in California's human mediated ecology.

The crowd was great, never too many people and the people I got a chance to really talk to seemed genuinely intrigued by the strange and little known saga of beaver in California. I did not come across anyone adverse to what I want to do and most seemed on the same page with me as far as putting more beaver in California, especially southern California (but one person wryly added do not take our northern Californian beaver). There were a lot more adults than I expected and although there were a lot of kids they did not dominate and seemed especially interested in the science. I myself brought 10 skins of birds that utilize riparian/pond habitat, my mural, and loads of photographs of beaver ponds, google earth imagery. People were impressed that beaver lived in such arid climes as the Mojave River.

After the festival I got a chance to explore Alhambra Creek and hopefully check out the beavers. I had it on good word that they usually start coming out around 6:30 so I had some down time to photograph and hang out at the local tavern. I had long known of the tidal influence from the nearby delta on this creek but was impressed by how much of it there was.

Above is the secondary dam before high tide. At high tide this dam was completely submerged and the beaver do a little maintenance after every high tide cycle evidently. Me and several other beaver watchers hung around for the nightly beaver watch. I myself was dead set on seeing a beaver as I have never seen a live, wild beaver (hark hark insert beaver pun of your choice here) and I was promised that the Alhambra beavers are pretty people friendly. At about 6:30, like promised, things started happening. A ripple here, a splash here I watched from the bridge overlooking one of the most active bank burrows. And then I did some counter surveillance at the main dam. And finally there was a beaver in the water - just lazing along. Me and several others were treated to quite a show at the main dam as one fairly big beaver - the good for nothing uncle some people claimed - made several up close appearances. My photos are all out of focus and wacky but hey - whatevs.

I though it was really cool how the beaver utilized the rising tide to get to vegetation normally out of reach. They especially liked the black berry bushes!!

Anyways blogger is not letting me link to youtube videos but if you want to check out my videos go to my youtube channel at Duane Nash.

I also got some nice shots of a pond turtle.

Anyways had a blast, thanks Heidi, Cheryl and everyone else involved!!

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  1. Duane! I'm so glad you got to see our heroes. Thanks for coming such a long way and bringing the beaver gospel down south.

  2. Duane, thank you for providing a nice summary with pics of the Martinez event. Couldn't get down from Portland. Plan to be in the South Tahoe-Reno, Carson City area and have my eyes peeled for keystone habitat. Grew up in Washoe Valley during the 50s, 60s and never saw beaver, but had many porcupines on our acreage. Pat Russell