Busy Beavers of Skegemog Swamp

We awoke to a little over an inch of snow this morning, which is nothing compared to the ten inches of powder Kathy got in the UP, but it’s a start. It’s practically gone now, but we enjoyed seeing the back yard and neighbor’s pasture lit up in the dim light of almost-dawn – a treat only for the winter. We were expecting overcast skies, typical of the lake effect snow pattern that permeates this portion of the calendar, but by mid-afternoon, the clouds had mostly broken up and blown away.

Since the sun sets at just after 5:00, we had to get a little bit creative with our work schedule in order to spend a few moments in the sun. We took a break at 4:00 and headed a couple miles up the road to the Skegemog Swamp pathway. The hike to the overlook is an easy one mile. Most of the trail sits atop an old railroad bed, with the last bit through spongy swamp, and then on narrow, rail-less, slippery boardwalk. In the early summer, the area is rife with deer flies, black flies, and other biting bugs, but in mid-November you only have to worry about not falling off the slippery wooden path into the clear black swamp waters.

We got to the overlook platform about 10 minutes before sunset. A few birds, I think chicadees, flitted around, pulling the soft bits off cattails. Occasionally we’d hear a splash in the wetlands. And then, we saw a critter swim across the clearing directing in front of us. I waited with my camera poised, hoping it would swim back by. I missed it a few times, but eventually got a couple shots. We mused about whether it was a mink, an otter, or a beaver, leaning toward beaver based on its size. Then two of them arrived on the scene, and we watched them silently paddle to their dam and then splash under. Definitely beavers πŸ™‚

I had hoped for a dramatic sunset, blazing with red and pink and orange light that only appears with the partly cloudy skies that we’d had for most of the day. I got cold, clear skies instead, which made for a sedate and peaceful sunset with enough light on the trail for our return trip. Ninety minutes in the sun, spent with birds and beavers, and a relaxing sunset. And we have aurora alerts. Life is good my friends. (Remind me of this over the weekend when we’ll be tearing out our bathroom with my parents. Stay tuned for the updates!)

Click any picture for a larger version + easy-exit slideshow

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And, just because I think they’re so cute, here are a couple pictures of two of my brother’s kiddos. I’m told that Mark just wanted to watch his ‘toons, but Miss Addison insisted on the photo op πŸ˜‰

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