It was my dear wife Joan who discovered the beaver family in the Little Maquoketa River down in the valley during a bicycle ride last week. I knew it would be sheer luck to find them at the same spot. Nevertheless I tried it and spent an hour waiting, and endless slaps for the mosquitos, but to my surprise the beavers showed up again. The beaver parents took care for four young ones and I was really happy to see them.
Camouflaged well by surrounding trees, the river was between me and the beavers and the remaining light made for camera settings like ISO 400 and 1/50s exposure time. The only way staying in business and using the maximum focal length of 500 mm (750 mm on the D300s) was to use the peak of action. The beavers moved most of the time and just having the shutter going while they had those tiny breaks of action sometimes led to a halfway sharp image. I used the term "halfway" because none of my shots was tack sharp.
I know, in some areas beavers are seen as a pest because of some trees they may take down in order to feed and establish their life. It takes a smarter approach to see the whole picture and the role the American Beaver can play in a healthy environment.
The Little Maquoketa River is not very long in comparison to the big rivers that cross the US from north to south. However, I really believe it is important to realize that even the smallest stream plays a role how things turn out when the water finally hits the ocean. Watching beavers only a few miles away from the Mississippi River is just a wonderful experience and I hope I can see them again soon in our valley.