We were blessed with good weather, about as good as it gets in mid-January, fine blue skies, sunny and crisp, cold yes but this meant that the mud was frozen. We were met at the entrance by Kate Wollen and directed down to a region halfway along the beaver enclosure. We were given a short introductory chat about the conception and early history of the project. I won’t steal Kate’s thunder as she will be talking to the GNS members at the forthcoming AGM, she did say that the talk will include a lot of video footage of the Beavers in action. The site has lots of trail cameras to record their activities. Seeing a beaver in daylight is not very common and despite us all looking none were seen on this visit.
We did see the results of their activities, lots of trees felled including some quite large Oaks, some had had their branches removed for food or use in dam construction and others had been left. The beavers also start to fell some trees but then leave them only partially cut which results in standing deadwood. We saw several dams and what was particularly impressive was the head of water that they had managed to build up behind the dams, in one place in was almost a couple of meters above the water below the dam. Apples were placed out kebab fashion for the beavers to snack on, evidently, they normally get through the offerings in one night but certainly they will all be gone in two days. Camera traps are placed close to the apples so that good photos can be taken to check that the beavers are in good condition. Feeding them apples also helps when they might need to be trapped to move them as then apples are placed in the trap, and they are then used to feeding on them. Also, camera traps are placed close to the apples so that good photos can be taken to check that the beavers are in good condition no cuts or sores.
Kate was most informative, and the large group paid close attention to all she had to say. This was a very interesting meeting, and I am sure some members will be returning later in the year at dawn or dusk to see if they can catch a glimpse of the occupants. There are at present an adult pair and two kits, which now will be almost a year old, Kate expects that the pair will probably produce more offspring this year, and then later this year it will be time to catch and move the older youngsters to pastures new.
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