Although they haven't made their presence known much this summer, beavers are a common sight in our area, especially near a small island I refer to as "Beaver Island." There are numerous signs of beavers all around the island, from dams to trees.
When I paddle around the island, I often will see a little head bobbing along for a while before the beaver dives underwater with a loud, alarming slap of its tail. I never know where it will resurface and often hear another tail slap before getting a glimpse of the elusive rodent.
But I understand; I, too, am quite protective of my privacy.
One summer afternoon, my husband and I were kayaking through the canal and saw a head bobbing along in a beaver-like manner up ahead in the distance, so we figured beavers were in that area, as well. But when we got closer, we realized eventually that it was a human...which gave us a good laugh. Later that week, we were paddling through the same area and recalled with laughter the person we saw there the previous time. And then we saw another bobbing head! As we got closer, we realized again that it was a person. This time, my husband struck up a conversation with the person (whose name is Phil) and told him we mistook him twice for a beaver. We all laughed. My husband and I still laugh about it. (Perhaps you had to be there...)
Earlier this summer, I was kayaking off to the side of "Beaver Island" close to the riverside when I saw what looked like a small beaver moving through the water toward shore - again, a little head bobbing along. Since it was beaver territory, I didn't think twice about it other than to assume it was a baby beaver because it was smaller. When the creature reached the shore, it jumped ashore and dashed up a tree. I was perplexed. Either it was a tree-climbing baby beaver or a swimming squirrel! Then I paddled across the river back to our dock and saw a large animal disappear into the bushes on the shore. This time I was confident that it was a beaver, and I watched for movement in the bushes or to see where it would emerge. It was elusive. All I saw was a peculiar, beaver-shaped piece of wood at the end of the bushes!
That day, my beaver stories were met with raised eyebrows and expressions that questioned my sanity. I researched whether squirrels can swim and learned that they can, but it's hard work and done only when necessary. My husband's theory was that it was a squirrel who fell into the water from a tree branch hanging over the water. But I never knew for certain.
One day when I was focused on photographing a great blue heron, it took quite some time for me to realize a beaver was right next to me nibbling aquatic plants with his/her eyes closed. It was a really sweet sight.
Fast forward to earlier this week when I was kayaking with a friend, and we saw a small creature of some sort bobbing along through the water. It was fairly close to the middle of the river heading toward the western shore, dog-paddling what appeared to be quite a distance. As we got closer to the animal, we saw that it was a squirrel!
I have no idea how that squirrel ended up so close to the middle of the river, but at least I have found the answer to my original puzzle.
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