Friday, 17 July 2009

Swimming Beavers and a Dragonfly

The middle of July tends to be the time when beaver kits are first seen about much. Up to that time their parents seem to keep them safely within the lodge, or undercover, hidden by the protective vegetation in which lodges are so often concealed. Then, all of a sudden, one July evening, the careful watcher may find that he or she is looking at a young beaver.

The most obvious difference between adult beavers and kits when they are in the water, apart from their size, is how they lie in the water. Adult beavers lie low. Little can be seen of them but their heads and shoulders, whereas the kits appear to be much more buoyant. They ride high in the water, so that the whole length of their body is exposed and only the tail and limbs cannot be seen.

Here is an adult beaver swimming.

And here is a kit I saw a couple of days ago and who has already figured on this blog through You Tube.

The members of the Perth Natural Science Society, who came here recently reported that they had seen four different species of damselfly. I was lucky enough to see a dragonfly yesterday afternoon. The battery of my camera had run out, but I had enough time to go back to the house, recharge the battery and find the same species again. I looked for a photograph of the animal and think I found it in 'Dragonflies' by the late Philip Corbet and Stephen Brooks. I think that it is an immature male Black Darter (Sympetrum danae), or a female. The male is much blacker.

Here is a photograph of it.


  1. Hi Paul,

    I've just taken in your recent blog entries, finding them full of details and different from what you often find in blogs. And I mean that in a good way.

    Almost a decade ago I visited Bamff on a month-long tour through Britain, to see Sophie, who I had met in South America previously. Staying a night in your home was one of the highlights of that trip. You must have forgotten it, but I'd like to say thank you for that again.

    Now, reading your blog, I keep thinking that with your knowledge of species and nature, I'm certain you would be able to contribute immensely to the quality of Wikipedia, if you have the time and interest to do so. I do a bit of traveling myself, and I try to take photos and gather bits of information from all around when doing so. Then I go home and put some of it in Wikipedia, and I find that lots of people click on the photos I add and then keep going until they find my Web site. Maybe it could be a way for you as well to increase the interest in your project of reintroducing beavers to your land? Just an idea.

    By the way; Would you know if there's any particular explanation for the yellow and black "dress" of the Black Darter? I see dragonflies all over the world, but only once before have I seen one in those colours. Is it just to scare off predators, or does it signal an actual danger to predators? Or is there some other reason?

    Oh, and the video of the beaver kit is currently marked as "private" on YouTube, so you're the only person who can see it... Since you've included a link to it in this posting, you may want to change that.

    I liked your photo of the horsefly/cleg. We call it klegg in Norwegian. Thought you might like that. #8D) I too was fascinated by the "sunglasses" of these insects, my photo of it is at . If you're interested, you can click your way from that photo to a number of other photos from an extended walk I did last year through the mountains of Norway. It's fairly Scotland-like, although unfortunately I saw no beavers on my way.

    Anyway, best of luck with your projects and your blog! I'll return here occasionally.


  2. Hi Bjørn,

    Thank you very much for your comments. I remember that we had a meal together in St.Andrews.

    There must be an explanation for the yellow and black dress of the Black Darter, but I don't have it.
    Perhaps it is a combination of things - bad to eat, not ready to mate?

    Thank you for your suggestion about Wikipedia. I must think about that.

    Sophie told me that the video of the beaver kit is marked 'Private', which is not what I intended. I must find out how to change that.

    Interesting to learn that the cleg is klegg in Norwegian. I was wondering about its derivation only yesterday. There are a lot of them about just now. I have looked at your photograph of a cleg and Wow! What an amazing pair of eyes! May I use your link to that photo on my blog?

  3. You may of course link to there, or you can link to the original photo, which has a bit more detail. You can find it at

    Regarding the origin of the word klegg, I think it's from the Norse mythologi. In "The Song of Rig", there's a person named Kleggi, and kleggi is also the Norse name for horsefly. He was the son of a slave (Thrall) and a serving-woman (Thir), so you can imagine he wasn't highly regarded... I guess that may be the deciding link between the character and the insect.

    I hope to eventually see you in Wikipedia, then. #8D)


  4. Thanks, Bjørn,

    The mythological background is very interesting.

    Having now seen the amazing eyes of the cleg I feel that I have a rather changed attitude to the beast, but not enough to stop me brushing them away from my bare arms or neck.

    As for Wikipedia - we shall see...