Beaver Pond Trail — Summer

Welcome to the Beaver Pond Trail. This trail takes you through low-lying boggy areas to the beaver pond and back. Just follow along and carry out any instructions you may get. Try to decide what you are hearing, smelling, touching, or feeling before going on to get the answer. If you want to test yourself, or play a game with yourself or someone else, keep track of your right answers. Ready to start? Remember, long files may take half a minute or so to load.

The insistent whine of a deer fly greets you. High summer in central Maine. It dives into your hair, and then dives out again, offended by the repellent. Too bad, deer fly. And good riddence.

You have decided to walk the trail alone, relishing the opportunity. You give your radio a little pat. It is security without encumbrance. Your cane picks out the guide rope along the trail, and you are off. You really need the walk today. Things have been piling up recently, bills, doctor visits, reports at work, the sump pump – lots of things. Well, you don’t want to annoy this critter (DVG). A bumblebee.

You are hardly underway when the first bird announces his presence. (long)(MIST) Hi, phoebe. Have a deer fly. All you can eat. And have lots of little phoebes to eat more deer flies, and black flies and mosquitos. Love those insect-eating birds. And another passes overhead. Tree swallows nest in hollows in trees or in nest boxes put up by people. You know the center has put up some cyber-boxes for the convenience of the cyber-swallows.

You run your cane along outside the guide rope to see what you can find. Something low to the ground. You reach out to check it out carefully. You’ve been surprised before. Thorns, compound leaves, canes coming pretty much directly from ground. Raspberry. A bit early for berries, though.

You feel the hard-to-define changes as you enter the woods. Just as you do, a bird greets you. Well, actually he’s asking you just what you are doing in his territory. That dee-dee-dee that gives the chickadee his name is an alarm call.

You carry on, the path tending downward. Well, you’re getting in good enough condition that walking back up it later won’t bother you.

The feel along the sides of the trail tells you that you have entered a region of dense growth. Must be the marsh. You reach out to find a plant sample and encounter a branch with finger-shaped, leathery leaves. It must be a rhododendron. This is the right place for them.

You hear a loud splat (DVG) on the water as a beaver spots you and warns the others of an intruder. Just try to sneak up on a beaver pond during the season when the proprietors are active. And there is another visitor to the pond. Wonderful! A loon. The pond is probably barely big enough for a loon to take off. They have to run along the water to get airborne.

But there is somebody here besides the beavers and loons. A bird. A yellow warbler, one of the regular breeding birds of this area.

Another sound stops you. From the woods nearby comes a familiar sound. You listen for a moment. Bluejay. And then… Ahha!Frogs also like beaver ponds (long)(WK). This one is a green frog.

Wow! It sounds like everything in the world started calling. Another waterbird sounds off. Ah, mallards. A family group, by the sound. The quacking sound is the hens; the high-pitched cheeping is the drakes. And what’s that? (long) (WK) A bullfrog. What is that? (long)(DVG) Isn’t that the peeping, whistling call of a wood duck hen? Maybe they are taking advantage of the boxes the center put up.

That was pretty exciting, but now you come to a choice point. This is the end of the short loop of the Beaver Pond Trail. You can head on back to the lobby where it is warm and you can brag a bit, or you can go back to the trail heads. Or you can continue on with this trail. What do you wish to do?

You’ve decided to continue with the Trail. It’s peaceful here, and calming to the soul.

A familiar sound of the marsh lets you know you’ve made the right choice, wet feet or no.

The trail is bending round the lake. Your feet are a bit damp when you find a tree branch beside the trail. It has needles growing singly from it, somewhat rounded or squarish in cross-section. Piece of cake. Spruce, and since your feet are wet, it’s a black spruce. The spruce is forgotten as you hear another frog (long)(WK). This one is a pickerel frog,if you remember rightly from the guide in the museum.

Your path swings again so you are headed back toward the center. There is a somewhat drier area of brush near the wood’s edge, your cane tells you. And you hear a brush bird common thoughout North America. It is olive on top, yellow below, and has a black mask, all duller in the females, you know. A yellowthroat. And this is your day for frogs. From the grassy areas beyond (long)(WK) comes another sound. You’ve heard it described as running your fingernail down an old fashioned comb. American toad.

Almost back to the center, you stop to grin at a familiar, cheery sound. The song is energetic. Robin. Something else sings for you. A cardinal. There are a couple of territories right near the center, you remember hearing. Robins and cardinals. Essence of good cheer.

Well, here’s the trailhead. It has been fun, and somehow the day’s problems don’t seem quite so severe. Optimism is sometimes hard to come by, but you often find it here in the woods. A cricket (DVG) starts up just as you head inside.

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Created June 30, 2003