Early one morning on Mother's Day, I stopped along the auto tour at Ridgefield to watch wood ducks in a quiet channel. A sudden dark form in the water caught my attention, I hoped for a beaver but knew it was most likely to be a nutria, the most commonly seen of the large rodents. Muskrat frequent the area as well but it was too large to be a muskrat.
My first impression from the size and shape of the head was that it probably was a beaver. There was little doubt left when its large, round form emerged onto the far bank, and no doubt remained when its broad flat tail finally came out of the water.
I was feeling pretty blessed, watching the beaver preening, when a second dark shape swam onto the scene. To my delight, a smaller beaver climbed up onto the bank next to the large one and began grooming itself before finally snuggling up to the larger beaver.
Upon getting home, I learned that there is no difference in size between beaver sexes, but that the young often stay with the parents for the first couple of years, so this is most likely parent and child. I don’t know the sex of the older beaver, but given the day, I’d like to think they were mother and child.
That's No Nutria …
That’s no moon, that’s a space station! Obi-wan Kenobi
I’m so used to seeing nutria here in the Northwest that I’m always surprised to see another swimming rodent. I was at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden here in Portland and even at a glance realized this rodent had a different profile in the water than a nutria.
I snapped off a few pictures while it swam off, starting to question whether I really saw what I thought I saw. A nutria appeared shortly thereafter where my so-called beaver had gone, leaving me a little disappointed and confused at my mistake. But then another large rodent swam from the area and headed in my direction.
It soon submerged but was easily visible in the clear shallow water, and as it swam below me and under the bridge its large flat tail was clearly visible. Turns out my first instinct was right after all.