Archive for the ‘Beavers and Birds’ Category

To Beaver or Not To Beaver?

Posted by heidi08 On May - 25 - 2017ADD COMMENTS

More silly mulling from the Scottish countyside: Should beavers be allowed or not? A reader on the Tayside group pointed out that this same argument could have been made 15 years ago, I say probably longer than that.

Beaver reintroduction – what’s the story?

Their reputation as strong swimmers and prodigious engineers is not an understatement. Their large incisors and clawed front feet enable them to construct dams and lodges that can extend for hundreds of metres, as well as burrows of up to 20 metres into the riverbank.

“Any species introduction, particularly if it has not been in this country for hundreds of years, can have a massive impact on the many benefits that the countryside delivers,” Mark Pope, an arable farmer from Somerset who has instigated numerous initiatives to provide habitat and food for birds and insects and encourage diverse plant species on his farm, said.

“In the case of beavers, the NFU has concerns about the damage to farmland and the landscape caused by their physical activities.” Mark, who is also chair of the NFU Environment Forum, added. “Farmers and the public must have the tools to manage the impacts beavers will have to farmland, the countryside, flood defences and urban areas.

“Beavers can add biodiversity, as well as the interest, enjoyment and socio-economic benefits they can provide to many people. What the NFU is very clear on is that in some locations there is a clear need to manage this species to minimise undesirable impacts on agriculture, forestry, inland waters and other land uses.”

There is increasing interest in the beneficial role beavers could bring to habitats. The natural activities of beavers could help to regulate flooding and improve water quality, if managed properly. The Devon trial on the River Otter, led by the Devon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Clinton Devon Estates, the University of Exeter and the Derek Gow Partnership, has been exploring the role of beavers in managing and creating wetland habitats, the impacts on water quality, and influence on water flow and flood risk.

Tolkein once wrote “Go not to the elves for council, for they will say both ‘No’ and ‘Yes’.” Mostly no, though.

On the other hand, beaver burrows near watercourses can weaken river embankments and flood defences. Material felled and gathered by beavers for dams and lodges can create flood risk downstream and block drains upstream. The potential consequences of this for farmland and the rural economy is a cause for concern.

It is estimated that the costs of the 2007 and 2013-14 floods on agricultural businesses alone were £50m and £19m respectively, not to mention the wider economic impacts on local employment, infrastructure and utilities and the damage caused to people’s homes and communities.

The knock-on effects can be wide-ranging. The loss of productive farmland, for instance, would have a detrimental effect on food production and supply.

The Scottish Beaver Trial was a five-year project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Forestry Commission Scotland to undertake a trial reintroduction of beavers to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll. The trial concluded in 2014 and as a result the Scottish government is considering recognising the European beaver as a native species.

A change in the legal status of beavers raises additional concerns. This is because beavers have no natural predators in the UK so it is important that populations can be managed, particularly if they are present in extensive low-lying areas such as East Anglia, Wiltshire and the Somerset Levels where their activities could block field drains leading to waterlogging (known as ‘wetting up’) of productive farmland.

Clarification: Beavers might benefit us if they don’t kills us all first.  “We killed off all their natural predators in the UK so there’s nothing left  to kill them and their numbers will swell like taxes with national health”. Are there no otters? No bacteria? No vehicles in your land? Beavers just don’t get killed by predators you know. And honestly, why act like you want to explore an issue and ONLY speak to one farming fiend from the National Farmers Union?

Who’s going to list all the many benefits for fish, wildlife, birds and water storage that come with beavers? Who’s going to talk about how much you can learn about nature by watching them? Who’s going to say how much they improve the health and vitality of urban waterways?

We need a National Beavers Union!!!

nbu

 

That’s great, just great!

Posted by heidi08 On May - 20 - 2017Comments Off on That’s great, just great!

pinfeathers GBH

Recently we’ve been having a bit of discussion about the Great Blue Heron. It started when I asked the artist to make the tattoo of the heron ‘bluer’ so that’s it clear what it is. She responded that it is often more gray than blue, which is true. But our project needs his bluest moments.  Sibley’s points out it even has a white morph that looks more like an egret. Nevertheless, I persisted. In preparation for our awesome nature journals Jon and I carved 170 sticks with beaver chews for the bindings  this week at my parents property in the sierra foothills. It’s going to be wonderful!

Meanwhile, Rusty Cohn of Napa captured the perfect moments yesterday, with more proof that beavers are great blue heron helpers.

BeaverGBHRusty

GBH and Beaver: Rusty Cohn

gbhbeaverswimming

GBH and beaver swimming: Rusty Cohn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Blue Heron is there to eat the fish, which are there to eat the invertebrates, which are there because of the beaver dam and constant digging in the mud. It’s what makes articles like this possible.

Beavers save Great Blue Heron nesting ground

Beavers and Great Blue Herons might seem like unlikely bedfellows, but a recent beaver-led construction project on the grounds of a nature center in New York is proving yet again that symbiosis can be oh so satisfying.

The forested grounds of Sterling Nature Center, nestled along the shore of Lake Ontario in Sterling, NY has long been a haven for local wildlife and nature-lovers. It wasn’t until the early 1990s however, when group of beavers settled along a creek there and constructed a dam, that the park would welcome its most popular inhabitants — dozens of Great Blue Herons.

As it turns out, the 80-acre pond and defoliated trees which resulted from the beaver dam created an ideal fishing ground for the birds, and as many as 65 herons chose the spot to hatch their young. The beavers were happy; the birds were happy; and, thanks to the crowds they drew, the nature center was happy too.

This is just the time we’d see Great Blue Herons at our beaver ponds, because it’s summertime and the living is easy. Which animals are visiting the beaver pond near you? You better go see for yourself.

 

And a little child shall lead them…

Posted by heidi08 On April - 17 - 2017Comments Off on And a little child shall lead them…

Let me start right off by being all meta and saying might just notice something new this morning. It’s the appearance of our ‘links’ which was kindly updated by a new beaver friend who happened to cross our paths. Christopher R. Scharf is a web designer and avid wildlife photographer who contacted me after the recent Times article hoping to photograph beavers. I introduced him to Rusty took him on a beaver trek and afterwards suggested he might not be adverse to lending a little hand. So Chris spent a couple weekends peering at the funky CSS on this site and tweaking the way links appeared (like that one right back there, watch what happens when you scroll over it with your cursor) so they would be easier for you, the very important readers of this page, to follow.

Because beaver friends come and many mysterious packages. Thank you, Chris!

Websites and technology are so important when it comes to saving beavers. Just look at this film which was made of the recent 4th grade visit to the Draper Utah wetlands by the Mapps lab with the Childrens Media Workshop. They even incorporate our favorite clip from Leave it to Beavers with our friends Suzanne Fouty and Carol Evans. Ahh, Jari Osborne’s masterpiece really is the gift that keeps on giving!  Looks like Kelly visited the classroom first, then students visited his property to learn about the wetlands in Draper, Utah.

I particularly love the teachers in this video, who are patient, cheerful and informed about all the way beavers matter. Not to mention the students, who all deserve to attend their very own beaver festival soon. On Earthday the McAdams family will allow visitors to their property to see the wetlands for themselves. He is doing an expansive, admirable job to keep what matters. Here’s another video slideshow made about the day and sent by the class System Support Coach, Patti White. Why not leave some nice comments so they know how wonderful this is?