Fundy National Park of Canada
A Beaver Pond at Dusk
It is late on a summer Sunday in Fundy National Park. You've hiked on trails, gone for a swim and walked on a beach. Over supper, you've made plans for tomorrow. But dusk is approaching. It's calmer now, and cooler, and your pace is slowing. However, if your plans for the evening include the beaver pond at dusk, your day is far from over. There is an active night life in the Acadian forest, and all you have to do to enjoy it is show up.
You get to the beaver pond on a boardwalk. This wooden path protects the surrounding environment and offers a sturdy base suitable for walking or pushing wheelchairs and carriages. Stroll for a minute or two from the Caribou Plain Trail parking lot, and you reach a widened section of the trail. It is a viewing area perched over a beaver dam, a structure of sticks and mud about a hundred paces in length and a metre in height. The beaver dam is the centrepiece for a wonderful evening of entertainment that unfolds before your eyes. Resident beavers dive and paddle through the water around the beaver lodge. And while the beavers may be the stars of the show, they have a large supporting cast. As the lights go down, seemingly on cue, a chorus of bullfrogs croaks. Birdsongs whistle down from the trees that surround the pond. Brook trout splash across the pond's surface, and in the sky, bats dance in flight. Fireflies blink in the background like hundreds of tiny neon bulbs. There is action everywhere, and you have the best seat in the house, right there in the middle of the stage.
Interpreter Anna Holdaway explains what happens at dusk. “The beavers are checking the integrity of their dam,” says Holdaway. “They do it every day. You can also see them foraging for food. Beavers eat the inner bark of trees, as well as aquatic plants that grow in and around the pond.”
Beavers are nature's engineers. They design and construct their dams and lodges, and then work steadily to maintain them in good order. The beaver's body is well-suited to its environment. “Beavers close off their ears and nose while they are underwater,” explains Holdaway . “They also have a clear protective membrane that covers their eyes. With webbed feet and a waterproof coat, they're well-adapted to live in water.” Most people know that the beaver slaps its tail on the water as a warning of danger. However, as Holdaway explains, the broad, flat tail has two other major functions. “Beavers use their tails for steering, much like a paddle in a canoe, as well as for balance when they are standing and chewing.” These members of the rodent family are adept chewers, and can gnaw through a 15-centimetre tree in 15 minutes.
Karen Hine is Fundy Park's heritage presentation coordinator. She feels the beaver pond at dusk is a good example of the diverse choices for interpretive experiences at Fundy. “Every week, we also have fossil walks, nature exhibits and nightly presentations at the amphitheatre,” says Hine. “Returning visitors will find new interpretive events each year and updated versions of the ones they enjoyed in the past.” There's no extra charge for these entertaining features. Your park entry fee entitles you to take part in any of the park's interpretive events. Schedules are posted at the Visitor Centre and at the campgrounds, and there is no need to make reservations.
It's late on Sunday, and dusk has given way to night. The evening show at the beaver pond is over for another day. Nature's curtain of darkness is drawn across the stage. Behind it, the cast members play out their lives as they have for thousands of years, ready for tomorrow's show.