On the river

You don’t appreciate the real power of a river in flood until you see what it leaves behind. Walking along the bluff of the lower Minnesota River at Rapids Lake National Wildlife Refuge, we came to a stand of trees about 30 feet above the river that were entangled with river debris.

bluff top over the Minnesota river

The bluff itself is a very loose mound of sand, but its elevation above the water is what is remarkable.  

Flood debris on the bluff of the Minnesota river

The ground is covered in leaves, but underneath them is a deep layer of fine sand. Branches are piled around the bases of the trees, carried there by flood water. 

beaver runs and lodge

A deep hole in the sandy bank with vertical slides angling down to it hints of the presence of beaver here, although the river is too wide and is running much to fast for them to try to dam it.  Above the beaver “abode” (not really a lodge) is a stand of willow and aspen — favorite beaver food.

beaver heading up the bank in search of food

Further down the river, I spied a solitary beaver out foraging in the late afternoon for a snack.  It looked like an otter from this distance (using all 400 mm of my telephoto here!)

beaver carrying willow down to the river

The beaver found a nice snack of willow which it carried down to the river.

beaver carrying willow to the river

Fortunately the beaver was completely uninterested in me creeping closer to it along the opposite bluff of the river (still a great distance away).

beaver snacking on willow branches

I suppose soaking the willow branches in water softens them up a bit. The beaver remained in this position for 20-30 minutes chewing away on his willow snack.

old farmhouse at Rapids Lake on the Minnesota River

The Gehl farm, just down the hill from the Visitor Center, had a marvelous view of the Minnesota River.  Mr. Gehl raised thousands of turkeys on his river property and built an enormous stone barn to house them — the ruins of the barn in the foreground.  The land which was once farmed is now being restored to native prairie.

3 thoughts on “On the river

    • Thanks — it sure was fun watching him/her manipulate those willow stems down to the water. I love old farmhouses. It’s fun to imagine what life must have been like for those folks.

  1. Great shot of your extended encounter with the beaver, Sue. I really like seeing the beaver’s activities. (All of my encounters with a beaver have been much more bried.)

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