Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A Thaw

 A thaw at last! The beavers are out and about again. It seems to me that below about 5ºC they stay at home in their burrows and lodges but, once the temperature rises above freezing, they are out again on the quest for food. This beaver had been snipping a couple of small branches from a recumbent oak tree. 

Here is that middle dam along the Burnieshed Burn, below the drive.

Footmarks, including my left boot to give some idea of scale. We are all familiar with the enormous dog pads in a thaw that lead people to believe that they are looking at the spoor of a wolf. These beaver tracks looked enormous.

More tracks: a beaver's spoor with a fox's running diagonally into the ice covered pool. 

It looks as though the fox had been going to the open water for a drink. People often forget that a time of deep frost is also a time of drought. One of the services that beavers perform for other animals is to keep ponds and pools open for longer than would otherwise be the case, enabling these other creatures to find water to drink. In the case of wildfowl open water means a measure of security from predators such as foxes.

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