Nova Scotia

Photographer gets shots of a lifetime after beaver plops down next to her

This spring Hazel Caldwell had an experience of a lifetime when she went to the Stewiacke River to get some shots of ducks when a beaver came and sat down next to her.

'It swam up to the riverbank and sat about eight to 10 feet away from me,' said Hazel Caldwell

Hazel Caldwell said she thinks the beaver that sat next to her along the Stewiacke River in central Nova Scotia was a male because of its large size. (Hazel Caldwell)

Hazel Caldwell spends as much time as she can in the great outdoors, enjoying her favourite hobbies of horseback riding and wildlife photography.

Earlier this spring she had an experience of a lifetime — and got some amazing pictures to boot — when she went to the Stewiacke River in central Nova Scotia to photograph ducks.

"As I sat down on the riverbank I could see something swimming closer to me and as it got close, I could tell it was a beaver," said Caldwell, who moved to Canada from Scotland 23 years ago.

"I figured it would scare off and swim away, but instead it swam up to the riverbank and sat about eight to 10 feet away from me."

Caldwell couldn't believe her eyes. A Canadian icon had just plopped its thick little body down next to her.

Caldwell said she could see in detail how the beaver chewed bark from sticks. (Hazel Caldwell)

When Caldwell moved her body, the beaver flinched and gave her a quick look.

"He kind of gave me that look like, 'If you're going to sit there, then at least sit still,'" said Caldwell. "Then he left and swam back up the river, but before I knew it he was back swimming right towards me."

This time the beaver was armed with some sticks.

Caldwell, who lives in Middle Stewiacke, N.S., enjoys wildlife photography and often goes to the Stewiacke River. (Submitted by Hazel Caldwell)

Caldwell said she was shocked when the large rodent returned for a second visit with her on the riverbank.

"I had a very long lens on my camera because I went looking for ducks, and the beaver was sitting so close to me I could barely get the camera to focus on the beaver," said Caldwell, who lives in Middle Stewiacke, N.S., and works at the hospital in Truro, N.S.

"After he moved away and went swimming back up the river I was able to switch lenses so I could get more shots."

Caldwell said she was a little nervous when the beaver sat next to her. (Hazel Caldwell)

Caldwell's pictures are extraordinary.

They show the beaver swimming with sticks and chewing the bark off them, as well as rubbing its belly as part of its grooming process. The pictures are so detailed they show its oily fur that provides the waterproof barrier that keeps the beaver's skin dry in the water.

"This is definitely at the top of my list for my photographic experiences so far," said Caldwell.

The beaver brought back some sticks when it joined Caldwell for a second time. (Hazel Caldwell)

Living near the Stewiacke River has provided Caldwell with many opportunities to capture images of birds in the area.

She said she rarely walks into the woods or along the riverside without her camera.

"Normally it's fox, deer, coyotes and lots of birds," said Caldwell. "I love to stalk wildlife, it's probably one of my most favourite things to do to relax my mind on weekends and evenings."

Caldwell grabbed this picture of a great egret in flight over a wetland in Brookfield, N.S. (Hazel Caldwell)

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