Thursday, 28 July 2011

Another go at salmonid parr feeding.

Vimeo and Youtube seem both to be fixated on my beavers and otter video. Or is it just my incompetence at loading the right one? Probably the latter. Anyhow, I am trying again.

A young yellowhammer sitting on a fence post. 

Water Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), I suppose, growing out of one of the dams in the Wet Wood.

And here is an aspen leaf: the beavers have not yet, after nine years, returned to fell this group of trees - the celebrated 76 suckers that grew out of the original dozen trees that were planted, after they were felled in 2002.

When will the beavers return and cut them down again?

Salmonid Parr feeding in the Burnieshed Burn at Bamff

Here is the link that should lead you to a video of salmonid parr feeding. I think I took this clip last Saturday evening but, as I mentioned in my last post, I walked out yesterday evening and filmed similar activity in the same pool.

Gradually, the water level will creep up to cover this ground, but over how long a period of time? What will seed into the silts? In the meantime it will be interesting to see what walks about and leaves its footmarks.

Hydraulic Support

Beavers often build dams close downstream to previously built 'high dams' to give the upstream dam hydraulic support. Before its breaching about three weeks ago there was a little dam about thirty metres downstream of the dam in the photo (now called the Third Dam) and this was breached at the same time. Since the 6th July the beavers have been building a dam about ten metres downstream of the main dam. What made them do that? Lars Wilsson, the Swedish zoologist would have said they were programmed to do this: the late Donald Griffin would have allowed them powers of problem solving. I tend toward the Griffin school of thought.

Here is the small dam that gives hydraulic support to the bigger one, seen from the parapet of the Third Dam.

Yesterday evening I sat by this pool as the dusk approached and video'd the parr of brown trout and, perhaps, Atlantic salmon as they fed on the invertebrates that flew about.

This is what I filmed in one of several clips that I took. - This turns out not to be of parr feeding, but of beavers and otters. I will try again.

Chris Potter, handyman and gamekeeper, told me recently that he had seen a salmon of about 10 lbs (4.5kg) in the Burnieshed burn sometime around 1990. As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, Chris said back in 2007 that he thought that we might be seeing salmon parr jumping in the first of the new pools that the beavers had created that year. It looks very much as though he was right, but the abundance of salmonid parr that we are seeing has to be due to the increase in area of habitat and the proliferation of invertebrates on which the fish may feed.

The reductionist management of salmon that cannot allow the presence of pike, or eels, or goosanders, or cormorants, or herons, or otters, or beavers should have no place these days. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The breaching of this dam, the lowest of the big dams on the Burnieshed Burn, happened around the night of the 6th July. This photograph was taken on the 7th.

and this, I think, on the 8th

as, perhaps, was this.

A lot of little frogs are going about.

Here is that dam again, taken this morning, the 26th July.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Otters and Beavers

The repair of the breached dam is well underway and the pool behind the dam is full of parr, leaping up to catch the insects.

Our friend, David Wilson, stayed for the night, so he accompanied me to see the beavers. We reached the pool to the east of the drive, striving to avoid crunching the road metal that has been spread to fill the pot-holes formed during the winter. It was soon apparent that something was up: the beavers were out and about, patrolling the pool. I became aware of a high whistling sound, wondering first if it was a bird: but which bird? Then, looking right, along the drive I saw an otter emerging from the vegetation: the cries came from it. I could see the movements of its mouth as the whistles sounded. The animal turned about and disappeared back into the pool.

The video on YouTube is a sticking together of two or three separate clips, the last of which shows two otters as they came up onto the drive, walked away from us and then disappeared down the bank to swim upstream in the Burnieshed Burn.

Moments after the otters had left, we saw the five young mallard swimming serenely among the tumble of dead dogwood in the pool.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The heavy rains of the day before yesterday proved too much for the lowest of the big dams along the Burnieshed burn.

It burst sometime between the late mornings of the sixth and seventh July.

The tree tube in the top right of the photograph gives a helpful reference point for both pictures: the one above and the one below.

This photo is a 'before' photo, which you probably guessed.

Yesterday evening Paul Scott found the lower one of these salmonid parr just below the surviving part of the dam. It may be a salmon parr. The two little fish must have been washed over the parapet of the dam and left behind when it was breached and the water rushed through the gap this made in the dam.

I found the lighter parr this morning, close to the darker one. It is probably a brown trout parr.

While Paul was watching beavers and finding the darker of the two parr, I was standing by the drive watching a kit feed and swim around.

Here is the link to Youtube to see it.

The sighting of the kit made the reason for the defensive activity of the beavers last Friday very plain. They recognised the otters as predators and were determined to protect their own. In doing so they protected the five mallard duckling which have been sharing the burn with them.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Beavers eat ferns

The evening before last I was out at the Big Pond with friends and was able to film this beaver, eating the fronds of a fern.

Here is the link: it's the first time I have seen beaver eating fern fronds. It must have taken them there from some place along the shore where there are ferns.

This is a day of downpour. I have managed, at last, to discover how to delete all the old bits of video on my camcorder and have uploaded the most recent clip on to YouTube.

I was impressed by the galls on this birch tree while looking around for a place to fix my trail camera.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Otters and Beavers

After feeding the wild boar down the drive this morning I thought it would be time to remove the trail camera and see what activities it had recorded during the last week.

Here is what I found:

Disappointing, really: however, yesterday evening I walked out with my camcorder. I walked along the Burnieshed path and stood behind a patch of ferns. The wind was from the North. The five adolescent mallard ducks swam by me in single file and settled down to feed some distance upstream. A beaver climbed out of the water on the opposite bank and began to graze. 

It did not settle, though, and turned back to re enter the water. I watched it swim about for a little and then land on the bank near the dam. It settled there and grazed for some minutes. While this was going on another beaver appeared where the first beaver had started feeding. It was rather bigger than the first beaver, so I took it that the new beaver was the female and that the first one was her mate. For while they grazed. Occasionally the water near me stirred. I wondered about trout. There was a sharp, short splash sound at one point and the bigger beaver looked up. What's up with you, I thought to be disturbed by that - probably only a trout. She went on grazing. 

Then the first beaver took to the water again, circled around a bit near the dam and made for the bank where his mate was feeding. Suddenly, there was a lot of splashing and what I thought sounded like rather aggressive activity, out of my sight, behind the rushes that fringe the burn. Odd, I thought, are they playing together? And then, but was it then, I saw the otter. It ran off. The beavers rushed into the water swam about, met each other and rubbed noses and then headed off together at speed. I lost continuous sight of them as they disappeared behind the fallen fir in the pool. They gave long keening cries. A short while later they turned back a returned to view, but not before the otter, joined by a second otter, ran out from behind the rushes. One of the beavers rushed out of the pool and the otters fled, chased by the beaver.

After this the beavers patrolled the pool vigorously. The wind had veered a little to the East of North. I thought, 'Now the beavers will get wind of me'. One of them swam across the pool about thirty yards upstream of me, followed the scent downstream and faced me, sniffing about. It got a good contact and crash-dived.

What a fascinating experience! I think the otters must have been waiting around in the hope of attacking a kit and the beavers were probably aware of this for some time. I had not heard the single keening warning note before.