Sunday, 17 April 2011

Watching Beavers at the Big Pond

'Spring is here' in the words of the immortal mathematical songster of Harvard, but we will not go poisoning pigeons in the park or any other light-hearted activities that appealed to Tom Lehrer.

I went out beaver watching this evening. This time of year is particularly good because the vegetation has not grown up on the rafts of sedge and so, although beavers can hide in the rushes, there is still plenty of open ground.

I think I saw five beavers this evening, but it is not always easy to know. Beavers can move swiftly from one feeding place to another, which makes it difficult to count them if you are on your own. 

Of course, if you trap them all, puncture their ears with colourful tags and pierce their tails with radio transmitters you can probably get a fairly good idea of how many you have and where they are, but run other risks. As Rob Thomas of RZSS told his audience at the talk he gave the Edinburgh Centre of SWT the other day, some beavers in the Knapdale project tried to tear the transmitters out of their tails. If that isn't stressful for the animals I don't know what is. The new approach is to stick radios on the lower rump, which must be better, but still be risky to a beaver negotiating a narrow way among some branches of a fallen tree under water.

And now for another photograph - 

Fading light is a particular difficulty with digiscoping and the shutter speed in this photo was about 1/10th of a second: no wonder the result is a bit blurry.

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