I spent yesterday getting familiar with this new ‘hood. Check out the wide column on the right, which is easy to add to and fiddle with. It’s easy to embed video or audio and even easy to link to particular pages! Notice that the images across the bar are randomized and will be different when you come back, which I very much appreciate. I love the gallery feature at the bottom margin. A girl could get used to this luxury.
Now if I could ONLY figure out how to change the lime green bars at the top. Honestly I had a nightmare about lime green once in graduate school. It is my LEAST favorite color ever invented,
Let’s visit a fellow blogger today, Philip Strange of the UK, who is very excited to have beavers living nearby, for obvious reasons.
Four years ago, a family of wild beavers were spotted on the river Otter in East Devon. This was the first report of the animal breeding successfully in the wild in England since the species had been hunted to extinction more than 400 years ago. No one knows how the animals came to be on the river but their prospering population is now the subject of a scientific trial providing a unique opportunity to monitor the re-introduction of a native species, or “rewilding” as it is sometimes called.
I wanted to find out more, so one evening in mid-September, I met Kate Ponting, Countryside Learning Officer for Clinton Devon Estates, at the village green in Otterton. Kate has been closely involved with the beaver re-introduction trial, taking place as it does on land largely owned by her employer. We headed to the river, crossed the old stone bridge and walked upstream along the muddy riverside path. Banks of Himalayan balsam and nettles dominated the river bank while, on the landward side, clover leys spread as far as the low embankment that once carried the railway. Prominent official signs warned that “Beavers live here” and Kate explained that there had been some local problems with dogs.
The river was full after recent heavy rain but the scene was tranquil in the low evening sunshine. We paused on the wooden bridge where Kate pointed out one beaver lodge, a semi-organised jumble of mud, sticks and branches protruding nearly a metre from the river bank and covering the entrance to a burrow where the beavers live. Further up the river we stopped to watch a second lodge on the far bank. Kate had warned me that the beavers had become less “reliable” as the autumn progressed and, although a wren flittered about the sticks making up the lodge and a grey wagtail passed through, we saw no beavers. Kate did, however, show me some signs of beaver activity including severed branches and one felled tree.
Don’t you just love beavers for being the same in Devon as they were in Martinez? Changing their schedules with the sun? (Or visa versa. ) Since their lives are probably not driven by alarm clocks – they probably think WE are less reliable in the fall. They are doing what they usually do, impervious to the sun or the weather. It’s us that change.
These are, however, early days and, as the number of beavers continues to rise, their presence in this managed East Devon landscape may cause tensions. There is good evidence from Bavaria, where the animals were re-introduced 50 years ago, that beavers can have a beneficial influence on rivers. They support wildlife by opening up the landscape, creating coppice and diversifying the wetland habitat. Their dams regulate river flows and remove sediment and pollutants. Sometimes, however, they can be a nuisance to those who live and work by rivers, causing flooding, blocking ditches, undermining river banks and felling important trees. There are now as many as 20,000 beavers on Bavaria’s rivers and their beneficial effects are clearly recognised alongside the need to manage the animals when their activity has a negative impact. Hopefully, a similar resolution can be reached for the East Devon beavers as their population grows. Whatever the outcome, the River Otter Beaver Trial will be closely watched by those interested in “rewilding” the landscape.
Evidence out of Bavaria? How about out of EVERYWHERE? But sure, okay, Bavaria too. Beavers are good for streams. Period. And any stream without several is broken and needs fixing. Fortunately for us all, beavers don’t hold a grudge. They will happily recolonize the same waters where they were persecuted for centuries.