Today's birding trip turned into an altogether different type of adventure; it was a National Geographic moment of Stalking the Giant Beaver.
Hoover Reservoir in Westerville, Ohio is the home of this large (around 55lbs.) aquatic rodent with an intimate knowledge of trees and dam building. He certainly seemed to prefer the Eastern Cottonwood, Populus deltoides for his late afternoon snack. Cottonwood is disdained by the lumber industry as an inferior or soft-wood, but Mr. Beaver must enjoy it emensely as he has stripped much of the soft bark and was whittling away at the smallish twigs.
Standing on the bank nearby, Dan Sanders and Marc Nolls provided the Marlin Perkins moment -a running commentary and the occasion plug for Mutual of Omaha. Jim McCormac crept in close for a serious photo shoot, and you'll find the complete coverage on his blog.
Remember, the fur industry played a huge role in history. Those beaver were big business as pelts were processed and made into men's top hats. Unfortunately, mercury was often used in that process, and the mercury vapor rendered the workers "Mad as a Hatter." Apparently Louis Carroll knew something of that as well. :)
Fortunately, we live in a society where mercury use is restricted, and beaver populations are on the rise. Score one for the conservationists!