It was almost dark yesterday (and getting darker) at Huntley Meadows Park when I saw the head of a beaver break the surface of the water. It’s been quite some time since I last saw a beaver, so I was thrilled, and even managed to get a few shots by cranking up the settings on my camera.
There are several beaver lodges at the park and the resident North American Beavers (Castor canadensis) have been really busy the last few months getting ready for winter. Every time that I visit the park, I see that that more mud has been applied to the lodges and the brush pile adjacent to the lodges, which server as a larder during the winter, keep getting bigger.
Despite all of this activity, the beavers have remained remarkably elusive and I have not spotted them a single time in recent months during my early morning visits to the park. Yesterday I went to the park late in the day and was able to finally see one.
My DSLR is a little long in the tooth and its max ISO setting is 3200. I had never set it that high, because of fears of unacceptable grain in the images, but boldly set it there yesterday. I was shooting in aperture priority at f/7.1 (wide open for my telephoto lens when fully extended is f/6.3) and I was shocked to see that my shutter speeds for my shots were either 1/4 or 1/8 of a second. Fortunately my lens has image stabilization, but it’s actually a little surprising that my images were not completely blurry when shooting at 600mm with a 1/8 second shutter speed.
This shooting situation definitely pushed the limits of my camera, but I am happy that I was able to get some recognizable images of a beaver swimming at dusk. As we move deeper into the winter, I will be looking to capture some more shots of our resident beavers, hopefully in better light.
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.