The tension is building. Stewart Stevenson, Environment Minister, is to pronounce on the fate of the free beavers of the Tay sometime soon. It would have been surprising if those guardians of our natural heritage the Scottish Gamekeepers Association had not trumpeted its hostility to any species of which they disapproved. Accordingly, today's 'Scotsman' has an article, fed to it by the SGA. I am glad to say that it does not disappoint.
'A hundred strong colony of foreign beavers are wreaking environmental havoc across Tayside, according to gamekeepers.' On it goes with a wild and fierce nonsense. What less was to be expected from the group that announced that White-tailed eagles would eat babies?
One of the new dams along the Burnieshed Burn.
And just downstream of that dam a photo to show the clarity of the water. The orange object in the middle of the picture is an ancient plastic cartridge case. I removed it.
A correspondent wrote to say that he found the clarity of the water that I showed in a photograph in a recent post was interesting. It is interesting, but it is also the norm whether the water is flowing fast or slow. In slow flowing water it depends much more on what the beavers are doing. If they are dredging or building dams the water may be cloudy. Then again if there has been heavy rainfall and more sediments are being washed downstream, or off the banks where dams have overflowed round them, then turbidity may result.
Here are some photos I took this morning, a bright sunny day with frost, using a polaroid lens in my camera. They were taken in the burn below the Third Dam, which is east of the drive to Bamff House.
Not withstanding what I just wrote, this one was taken in the overflow channel below the Third Dam. The topsoil and grassy sward have long since been washed away and a gravelly bed remains.
And so was this.
Now we have reached the main burn below the Third Dam and water is pouring into the main stem from an underground channel - the hyporheic zone?
The pool above the Third Dam, whose southern end you see in the bottom right of my photograph.
After feeding the wild boar in the Burnieshed Den enclosure I sped on to Kinkeadly to feed the bêtes rousses and then to take a look around the Wet Wood.
These photographs were all taken in the canal that the beavers have dug to take water from the western pond in that enclosure down to the new pool.
There has been no rain to speak of for a few days now, the water levels are dropping and the flow from the top pond is slower. Perhaps it qualifies for lentic?
All the same the water is clear.
You can make out the line of the Long Dam where the water ends in the middle distance.
Back to the Pond enclosure for this last photo:
I am still astonished by the gymnastic abilities of the beavers. In this case a beaver has clambered along a fallen birch to gnaw off the bark. Did it jump into the water at the top of the stem, or did it back down to the bottom left corner of the picture?
This willow has withstood the recent gales despite being mostly gnawed through - remarkable really.
The canal has been dredged a bit more to cope with the runoff from the recent rains and snow.
This is some more of it.
The fence beside this length of the canal is part of an exclosure put up some years ago for Kevin Jones's study of the vegetation in the Wet Wood at the outset of the beavers' first years of occupation.
Nice clear water!
In this photograph we are looking east towards the Long Dam.
Here I am, looking east from the long dam, which you see just beyond the fallen grey alder.
This afternoon I went back to the Wet Wood from the east side and photographed this old fence straining post that has been such a marker of water levels over the last ten years.
This is the familiar dam with the water lapping to its crest.
And from here we see the old lodge. It looked as though beavers were living in the lodge from its state of repair and there is that other one nearby, which is clearly occupied.