Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Beaver Film Part 2 in Hartford

The Really Wild Wednesdays: Eager Ecological Engineers program continues on June 8 with the showing of "Beaver Pond Wildlife Part 2 - Late Spring" at Real Art Ways theater in Hartford, CT, at 7pm.

 

 



The 5-part film series documents some of the multitude of species typically found in, on, and around New England (and other northeastern) beaver pond environments, season by season. 

Part 2 covers late spring, a bustling time at typical beaver ponds. Bird activity is high, with nesting season well under way. Insects are the go-for food item birds rely on now to provide the protein they need to reproduce. 

Grackle with dragonflies

 

Water snakes, mating
 

 

 

 

 

Frogs, toads, turtles, and snakes are mating and producing offspring as well.

Beavers are patching up dams, and their two-year-old youngsters are leaving the pond to establish their own new homes.

Ducks, herons, muskrats, ospreys, dragonflies, and more ... they're all going about the business of life, making spring itself come alive with hectic activity.


Osprey, over nest

A Q&A session will follow the film. Admission is free, but seating in the gallery is limited to about 50. Registration is advised. For more information, visit the Real Art Ways website

Parts 3 through 5 progress chronologically through early summer to winter, and are scheduled for July 13, September 28, and November 30, respectively.




Sunday, April 17, 2022

Beaver Pond Wildlife film in Hartford

Few wildlife species are more intriguing, or have a greater ability to alter and create habitat than that iconic keystone species, the beaver. This unassuming mammal goes about its daily life setting up and maintaining its homestead, all the while creating aquatic and terrestrial conditions that so many other creatures rely on.

Real Art Ways theater in Hartford, CT, will host "Really Wild Wednesdays: Eager Ecological Engineers". These events will feature our 5-part "Beaver Pond Wildlife" film series beginning on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, when Part 1 will be screened at 7pm. A Q&A session will follow the film.



The films document some of the multitude of species typically found in, on, and around New England (and other northeastern) beaver pond environments, season by season. 

Part 1 covers early spring, with parts 2 through 5 progressing chronologically through late spring to winter. Each part is approximately one hour in length. Parts 2 to 5 are scheduled for June 8, July 13, September 28, and November 30, respectively. 

Admission is free, but seating in the gallery setting is limited to about 50. Registration is advised. For more information, visit the "Events" section of the Real Art Ways website


There will also be a film at 5pm, "Olmsted and America's Urban Parks".

 

 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Celebrating Old-Growth Forests in Connecticut

 

Old Growth Forest


There's a lot of interest in eastern old growth forests, as evidenced by the fact that our Lost Forests of New England film is approaching the one-million-views milestone. An upcoming event will focus on old New England forests.

"Celebrating Old-Growth Forests in Connecticut" will take place On April 9, 2022. Dr. Joan Maloof, founder of the Old Growth Forest Network, will be leading a forest walk in Hartford, CT. That begins at 10am at the Keney Park Wood Materials Management Site (392 Tower Ave). 

Dr Maloof will point out features of the Keney Park forest, and talk about her organization's goal of having at least one forest set aside in every county of the U.S. (ie, those where forest can grow) to grow naturally, without logging, and to be open to the public. Forests inducted into the Old Growth Forest Network do not  have to currently be old-growth; the idea is to allow them to eventually develop into old-growth condition again.

Following the walk, there will be a lunch at noon, and book signing by Dr. Maloof at Real Art Ways

At 1:15, The Lost Forests of New England will be screened in the Real Art Ways theater. This one-hour documentary-style film tells the story of what our regional ancient forests once looked like, and what their current status is. Several prominent scientists and old-growth experts describe the importance and characteristics of primitive forests.

There will be a short Q&A panel session with Dr. Maloof; Jack Ruddat (a WPI student who has researched and identified Connecticut old growth sites); Dr Susan Masino of Trinity College; and others.

 

The entire day's activities are free. More information is available at the Real Art Ways website.





Friday, March 4, 2022

New Film: Beaver Pond Wildlife - Part 5

Looking back now, the last three years have rapidly slipped away into blurry memory. They were spent as long days sitting quietly at beaver ponds, and though they seem to have passed quickly now, I do remember how some of those days drifted along painfully slowly at the time, for lack of action. During most days, however, there were things very worth seeing, and those days were some of the best days of my life. 

Beaver with ice on head
Beaver with ice on its head


Many of the secretive, "mysterious" animals I had always wanted to see in their candid behaviors, not just in a fleeting glance, in time made themselves available to me, some for the first time. Not only beavers, but mink, otters, ospreys, hawks, muskrats, eagles, and bears. The underwater lives of dragonflies, damselflies, diving beetles, water scorpions, and others were just as fascinating. 

Two of the highlights involved bullfrogs. The first of them persistently jumped to catch perched dragonflies, comically failing for days; but it finally got things figured out. The second was a large, obviously hungry and fearless bullfrog that stalked numerous birds and even a gray squirrel; it attacked a chipmunk several times, and later eventually captured a feathered meal. It's been a very fulfilling few years. There were many times when I left the pond at day's end with a big smile of satisfaction.

At the start, with the goal of documenting a year's time span at New England beaver ponds in mind, I naively thought it would (logically) take a year to complete. Well, I was only off by 200 percent. And now, those three years have been reduced to a total of four hours and 45 minutes of digital "film" time. Part 5, the final segment of "Beaver Pond Wildlife", is now finished. It's a relief to have it completed, but it's also a bit disappointing... now I no longer feel I have an excuse to sit at a pond all day. But that's ok.

Otter in Snow
Otter rolling in snow

This final segment covers autumn into winter. Wildlife activity at the ponds is certainly at a lower level than in spring and summer, but is no less interesting and rewarding to observe. To miss the year-end part of the story would be like not reading the final chapters of a book you've enjoyed to that point. 

The onset of winter may feel like an ending, but it really isn't, it's just a different season. Life of course goes on for many creatures, though not as readily observed by us. While some migrate to warmer climes, or regions with more food, others stay and endure. It's rather amazing to me that some animals actually plan ahead for their winter survival, such as beavers and chipmunks accumulating a food cache. 

I'd certainly recommend investing some leisurely hours at a beaver pond, sitting quietly and patiently, particularly in spring or summer. Bring binoculars, and maybe a camera. But be forewarned... you may become addicted.

I want to thank several people who were particularly helpful in the making of this series, offering filming opportunities, reviewing the films, and making suggestions or corrections. They include Alan Richmond, Ed Neumuth, Mike Mocko, Debra Silva, Ted Watt, and Bart Bouricius. Thank you!

As for me, other film projects await. See you in the woods!

You can see all five parts of this series on our Youtube channel. To start at Part 1, click here. To go directly to this new Part 5, click here, or in the player window below.


 





Tuesday, January 18, 2022

New Film: Beaver Pond Wildlife - Part 4

Beaver, grooming
Beaver, grooming
 

It's always been difficult for me to spend days indoors; the woods beckon. But these raw, cold days of early winter are making it a bit more tolerable to sit at a computer and edit footage (yuck!). As a result, another hour of the "Beaver Pond Wildlife" series is finished. Part 4, "Mid Summer - Fall" is now available on our Youtube channel. 

This continues the chronology of a typical year at New England beaver ponds; Part 1 covered early spring; Part 2, late spring; and Part 3, early-to-mid summer. If you have not watched Parts 1 through 3 yet, I'd suggest watching them in sequence before watching Part 4. 

 

Buttonbush
Buttonbush

 

By mid-summer, most, but not all, bird species have finished raising young and have largely moved on. So, beaver ponds tend to be more quiet, and seem less hectic. Yet there's still an enormous amount to see and appreciate, not only of the animal kingdom, but the plant kingdom as well.


Bladderwort flower
Bladderwort



Beaver adds mud to lodge
Beaver adds mud to lodge

 

I'm pleased to say that there are again at least a few scenes of things that most people have never witnessed, or perhaps are not even aware of. I counted myself in that group, because I was quite lucky to happen upon these surprises, and delighted to discover them. I consider such events a reward for having the perseverance to spend entire days being relentlessly entertained at beaver ponds. No beans being spilled here; you'll have to watch the film to find out what they may be. Enjoy!

 

Young red-shouldered hawk
Young red-shouldered hawk