Geotripper's California Birds)
It is along similar lines that we come to my new educational experience of the day. I've been hiking the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail since before it was completed two years ago. I've documented more than sixty bird species on my near-daily hikes as well as the presence of Red Fox, Gray Fox, River Otter, Raccoon, and a troop of feral domestic cats. And yet somehow, in all of these mini-adventures, I missed some terribly obvious evidence of one other mammal along the river. Until today, when it was made as clear as the nose in front of my face...we have beavers.
I had to hit the books (er, Google) to find out more. It turns out that the story of beavers in California is both muddled, and complicated. For one thing, California has its own beaver subspecies, including the California Golden Beaver, Castor Canadensis subauratus. Whether the distinction is biologically valid awaits confirmation from DNA studies. There isn't a lot known about their historical distribution because as most students of history know, the beaver was eradicated over much of its range by fur trappers in the early 1800s. It was assumed by some that they never inhabited the High Sierra, although some research has indicated that they did. They may have originally ranged across the entire state except for the deserts, and even there they survive today along the Mojave and Colorado Rivers. In any case, it is thought that by the 1940s there were as few as 1,300 of them left, almost all in the Great Valley. At that time, the Department of Fish and Game decided to transplant some of the beavers into some of their former range. At this point I had another surprise: some of the transplants were taken from the Tuolumne River...in Waterford, the very spot where I was seeing beaver sign for the first time!
Natural History Journal. Whatever I see and get excited about, she probably has seen it first! Being observant is a powerful skill to have.