A sunny week out and about

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Looking out on to loch Coille-bharr


It’s been a stunning warm and sunny few weeks in Knapdale and there has been lots of outdoor jobs to do.  We’ve been snapping a few photos along the way and thought we’d share them with you.

 

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Its fungi time in Knapdale!

 

 

 

 

At this time of year Knapdale is looking fabulous and there’s lots of wildlife to be seen. Although the Scottish children are now back in school, the rest of the UK are still on holiday so there are still lots of tourists enjoying the area.

 

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The heather is in full bloom all over Knapdale – stunning.

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A red admiral sitting on top of ragwort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guided walks are coming to an end very shortly too, but lots of people have been along to find out about the beavers and wildlife of Knapdale and enjoy exploring the woods.

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lots of amphibians can be seen around the lochs

 

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some stunning fungus can be found in Knapdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beavers have been busy too; the large tree at the south end of Loch Coille-bharr which they have been gnawing away at for some time now has finally come down in the winds over the weekend. The Forestry Commission have cut part of it down as it was stuck and hanging up in trees across the track and could have been dangerous should it fall further, but they have left the trunk so that visitors can still see all the beavers hard work.

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the large ‘beaver tree’ has been blown down across the track

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evidence of the beavers hard work

 

 

 

 

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the stump has been left for everyone to see

 

 

 

 

We’ve had some volunteers this week who came to get some experience of the field work jobs involved in the trial.  We all went out and about on the lochs in the canoe.

 

 

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canoeing on the aptly named Lilly loch

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Julie looking out for fresh field signs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kelsey surveying the Dubh loch


 

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canoeing through a beaver snack

 

 

 

 

We also checked on some of the lodges.  At this time of year the beavers are doing maintenance work on their lodges, adding more mud and material as insulation in preparation of winter.

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Lodge improvements on loch Coille-bharr

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Setting up camera traps on the Buic lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beavers will also be starting to build up food caches at this time of year, storing sticks for over winter so they can eat the bark off them when there is little other fresh vegetation for them to eat.

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SBT staff and volunteers recording fresh activity on the Buic lodge

 

We put out camera traps to capture images and videos of the beavers – check out our Facebook page and Twitter feed for posts of some of our results 

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Bruce at the Mid Argyll Show

Harry Otter, head reporter for Waterside News travelled to Lochgilphead this weekend to speak to Bruce the Beaver. Harry has a keen eye (as well as nose) for a good story and following Bruce’s recent Viking exploits had heard that he had once again been in the spotlight.

‘Hi Bruce! The agricultural show has become a bit of a favourite for you’.

‘Good to see you Harry. Yes, this is my third year; it’s a great place to meet up with all the folk who live with me in this part of Argyll.’ Such a lovely day as well after all that rain yesterday’. It’s been great fun again and we’ve been busy on the stand all day.blog 3‘There’s been loads to do for the kids and adults with quizzes, colouring in, identifying skulls and pelts, finding out what’s been happening up at the trial site, booking guided walks. All sorts of stuff. They even had a badge-making machine. Imagine that Harry, me on a badge!’blog 2‘Funny you should mention the weather Bruce. I heard a tale along the river bank from my old colleague Walter Vole that today’s show may never have taken place without you.’

‘News certainly travels fast around here Harry, it was nothing really. The organisers were a bit worried about the amount of water pouring onto the show field yesterday, so they popped round to the lodge and asked if I wouldn’t mind taking a look’

‘That was bit of a journey for you wasn’t it Bruce?’

‘I wouldn’t have been keen to walk it Bruce, as I’m never that happy being a long way from water. Worst of all, the last bit meant going uphill and I’m not really built for that, so I got a lift in a pick-up.’

‘What did you find when you got there?’

‘Well Harry all that rain had caused one of the burns on the hill to change direction and the water was being channelled towards the show ground. I suggested a short dam might be the trick and got to work.’

‘Wow Bruce that was some challenge!’

‘We beavers are pretty hard workers Harry, and Sheila and the kits lent a hand. Beside it was getting late and we’re always happiest working at either end of the day. We’re crepuscular you know.’

‘Hang on Harry, let me get that down. Crepu what?’

‘C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-A-R Harry. We like working in the twilight’

‘Got it Bruce. We otters quite like that time of day as well.’

‘Quite Harry, that’s why we keep bumping into each other.’

‘Anyway we got the dam sorted out a few hours before the show started.’

‘How exactly did that help Bruce?’

‘Well our dams hold up water and can help stop the sort of flash floods and erosion that might have forced the show to be waterlogged Harry. It was just enough to help the ground to start drying out a bit. I know folk worry sometimes about us making dams but there are lots of benefits as well.’

‘Wow Bruce that’s amazing! You must have been exhausted after all that work.’

‘It was a long night Harry but we’re used to hard work and, well; to be honest I’ve been putting on a bit of weight recently. It’s been such a great summer so far and with so much food around it’s difficult to resist sometimes. We need to fatten up a bit in preparation for the winter but I think I might have been overdoing it a bit.’

‘Well I didn’t like to say Bruce but I have noticed a bit of an overhang of late. But never mind after last night and being at the show all day you should have shed a kilo or two.’blog 1‘I hope so Harry. Must admit though, that Tree and Bark stall with that ‘all you can eat for £3 offer’ is a bit of a temptation.’blog 5‘I’ll let you get back to it then Bruce. Just one last question. I heard a terrible rumour that you’d been run over by a car!’

‘Ha, ha. Yes, I saw that photo on the World Wide Webbed site (you should join Harry; it’s open to anyone with skin between their toes). It was pretty muddy yesterday as you can imagine, so to try and save the old pelt (and not get a roasting from Sheila for messing up the lodge) I had my overshoes on. I’d just leant them up against the car to dry out.’blog 4‘You’re some Beaver Bruce and it’s been great to catch up again. I’d better be off, I promised to pick up some fish on the way home.’

‘Each to their own Harry, try below the dam, you’ll find the water’s a lot clearer there.’

(Photos and fiction by Pete Creech)

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RYA Comonwealth flotilla

It was a stunning summer’s evening on Tuesday when the Royal Yachting Association Commonwealth Flotilla arrived for their overnight stop on the Crinan Canal on their way to sail up the Clyde in time for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday. It was also the baton handover point for the paddlers on the Mid Argyll Sea Kayaking Trail.

RYA1Bruce and I, along with a couple of our trusty beaver volunteers, had been invited along to a wonderful reception and barbeque at Dunardry, the mid point on the canal, to watch the big boats and the Kayaks coming in, and the baton being handed over once another piece of maritime themed art had been added to the canister by a local artist. Of course being so close to Knapdale and Bruce’s home – beaver HQ, he couldn’t resist going along and showing off.

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Bruce enjoyed showing off his athletic prowess but was also rather embarrassed and would like to apologies for appearing naked in public – his formal occasion wear (SBT T-shirt) was still in the wash from his previous outing to the baton relay. Things had got a little bit messy on the dance floor during the baton party at Strachur!

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Once everyone had eaten their fill Bruce invited everyone to come and have a look around his home in Knapdale.  While people left their boats and boarded a bus to take them to Barnluasgan, Bruce nipped off back to the lodge to finish his washing, leaving me and the volunteers to show everyone around the Dubh loch and the Coille-Bharr beaver dam.  It was such a sunny and warm evening, and even the midgies gave us a night off, that it was so nice to linger in the woods and appreciate the finer details of the Knapdale forest and lochs in summer.

 

 

 

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Bruce and the Baton

Locals was stirred into a frenzy of excitement on Sunday as the Queens Baton Relay came through Argyll from Oban to Dunoon,  with many stops along the way – lots of local villages and towns had the bunting and flags out and put on a great Argyll welcome.

Bruce was very excited to be involved and went along to Lochgilphead joint campus, and Strachur to meet the crowds waiting for the baton.

There was lots of fun stuff for a beaver to do at both baton destinations.  In Lochgilphead, he had a boogie with the Zumba girls

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… a chat with the police officers and event organisers

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DSC_0320… tried out some hoola hooping (unfortunately it turns out that beavers were not really built for this sport, but ten out of ten for effort Bruce!)

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… Signed a commonwealth banner

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… and of course had lots of cuddles from children!

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Then the baton finally arrived and the crowds gathered to catch a glimpse and take photos.

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Bruce, having not had enough excitement for one day then jumped in the beaver truck and headed down to Strachur.  He had never been there before, and wanted to find out how they were planning to welcome the baton into their village before it made it’s way to Dunoon and left Argyll.

On the journey down, we passed through Inverary. They had really gone to town with the street decorations and even Bruce said he didn’t think he had ever seen so many people in one place before.  He was positively jumping with excitement when we got to Strachur.  We could hear a band playing as soon as we got out of the beaver truck, so Bruce was straight off onto the dance floor where he threw himself in to his best disco beaver dance moves and started pulling people up to dance with him (some more willing than others!)

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DSC_0374Strachur obviously know how to throw a party, and there was lots happening at the Memorial hall. As well as the music, there was lots of food and drink, face painting, (Bruce wanted to get done, but then thought it would require extra grooming later that night to wash it off) and even a bouncy castle which he REALLY wanted to have a go on, but though his claws might burst it and then there would be no fun left for all the children.

All the shapes Bruce threw on the dance floor earned him lots more high fives and hugs from his fellow fun lovers, and then there was just enough time to recover from dancing before the baton arrived.DSC_0363DSC_0367DSC_0370

What a lucky beaver Bruce was, when the baton arrived Bruce was allowed to hold it for a minute. He says he is never going to wash his paws again! what a way to round off the day before making the journey back to lodge in Knapdale, I think he slept the whole way back!

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Beavers at the Scottish Game Fair

This weekend the Scottish Beaver Trial, along with representatives from the Tayside Beaver Study Group and the Beaver-Salmonid Working Group were all on hand to answer questions at the Scottish Game Fair (SGF).

For those unfamiliar with SGF, this event is hosted annually by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and held on the very scenic grounds of Scone Palace, Perth.

The Game Fair aims to showcase various aspects of Scottish countryside and traditional activities. The various, diverse stalls offer shopping, informational, eating opportunities and activities such as learning to fly cast, testing your shooting skills and your dog’s retrieval ability (or lack of it!).

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The beaver marquee was pretty swish and we were well protected from the weather warnings of heavy rain all weekend, although it was happily replaced with cracking sunshine for the majority. We had the usual range of beaver biofacts, information leaflets and images of beaver activities from Knapdale.

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The education team ran various activities including dam building, colouring in and touch tables, and were on hand to answer a wide variety of questions.

Given the location of the Game Fair, the Tayside beavers were very topical and a range of landowners came to discuss both positive and negative impacts of their presence. This gave a good opportunity for the Tayside Beaver Study Group to present some of the monitoring work currently being undertaken – including the trialling of various management techniques, and the findings from the recent health and genetic screening.

The Beaver-Salmonid Working Group also displayed some of their findings, which included maps of important salmon rivers and areas of suitable beaver woodland. The impact of beaver dams on migratory fish is not fully understood, and whether this will be significant in the future or not is the subject of a PhD which is about to start at the University of Southampton. The aims and how this work will be undertaken was presented by our very own Rob Needham, who was the successful PhD candidate and will begin this project shortly.

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In order to encourage discussion on beaver reintroduction, the Game & Wildlife Conservation, hosted a special event at our marquee – a beaver tea party! A new experience for us but one much appreciated and we were super impressed by the apt refreshments! Invitees included numerous organisations involved directly or indirectly with beaver reintroduction, wildlife management, local landowners and government agencies – prompting much discussion on the return of this native species.

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Of course we couldn’t sign of without announcing our top dam builders over the weekend! Well done Angus who topped the table with an impressive 15.44 seconds!

  1. 15.44 – Angus
  2. 11.68 – Matthew
  3. 10.72 – Mark & Ryan
  4. 10.15 – Beth & Zara
  5. 9.53 – Calum & Richard
  6. 9.09 – Cameron
  7. 8.71 – Hanna
  8. 8.10 – Nilajini
  9. 8.00 – Harry
  10. 7.97 – Blair

And here is the beautiful habitat created by everyone over the weekend. Thanks to all those who came to visit us, to our volunteers for all their help and to GWCT for hosting us.

4886 beaver habitat SGF 060714

 

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The Saga of Bruce and the Vikings

Bruce’s hectic schedule over the five years of the Scottish  Beaver Trial has led to numerous opportunities to meet with the public and spread the word that the beavers are back in Scotland.

However his appearance at the Loch Fyne Viking Festival led to a chain of events that tested his diplomacy skills to the limit.  Who better to relate the days activities than Bruce’s watery friend, and local reporter, Harry Otter, live from the quayside at Ardrishaig.

Harry Otter (HO): “Bruce!  Bruce!  Over here.  That was amazing!  Have you got a few minutes to tell us what happened?”

Bruce the Beaver (BtB): “Oh, hi Harry, didn’t recognise you in that new hat.  I’ll just grab a seat and catch my breath.b1

“I thought it was just going to be another public appearance Harry.  I’d turned up with some friends and we set up the stall.  Lots of folk, as always, came to say hello and to find out some of the amazing things we can do.  I’d brought along a couple of my own tree stumps to show how we gnaw through the trunk without killing the tree and how it then regrows. Amazing huh?”

HO: “It certainly is Bruce and it was very kind of you to shift that tree one of your kitts dropped in front of my holt.  But tell us what happened next?”

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BtB: “Sorry about that Harry, he’s still got a few felling direction issues.  Anyway I went along to the pier to see the Viking boat sail in, very impressive it looked I must say.  As it ran up the beach hundreds of children began pelting the Vikings with wet sponges, water bombs, even bins full of water.”

HO: “Were they annoyed Bruce?”

BtB: “Wouldn’t you be Harry?  There was a lot of shouting (I’m glad no-one else round here but me understands Norwegian) and the Vikings stormed up the beach and broke through into the town.”

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HO: “Wow Bruce!  Were you scared?  What did you do?”

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BtB: “If I’m honest, I was a bit alarmed Harry, but I don’t like seawater so there was nowhere to go, so I thought I’d try and help, you know, as a translator, try and calm things down.

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“Unfortunately, the Vikings were really angry by this point and they’d heard that some of the folk who’d battled with them on the beach were Beaver Scouts and they thought I was their leader!”

HO: “Oh no! Don’t keep us in suspense Bruce.  What happened next?”

BtB: “Well Harry, they formed a shield line, shouted and roared and clashed their swords on their shields and charged.  Straight at me!”

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HO: “What did you do Bruce, were you hurt?”

BtB: “Not much I could do Harry, I was swept up and captured, knocked to the ground and surrounded by a hedge of swords.  As a rule we beavers are pretty tough, but I was definitely ruffled I must say.”

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HO: “Ruffled Bruce?  I’d have been a line of bubbles halfway across Loch Fyne by this point!”

BtB: “Well Harry I knew the townsfolk were relying on me. So, I started telling the Vikings the story of how I was born and brought up in Norway and had volunteered to travel to Scotland to help set up a colony of beavers after a 400 year absence.

“I told them that the folk in Argyll had been very kind to me, being a new immigrant as it were, and not speaking the language.  All our needs were catered for and we were given a great place to live in Knapdale and that we now have lots of friends all over Scotland.”

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HO: “That was a brave thing to do at the point of a sword Bruce.”

BtB: “Maybe Harry.  Maybe. They turned out to be a pretty decent crowd in the end and apologised for the misunderstanding.  I think they were a bit tired after all that rowing. Must be hard work going-a-viking.  And all that shouting!”

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HO: “So there was a happy ending?”

BtB: “There sure was!  I got a ride on the long ship to Tarbert.  Brilliant! It’s big the sea, isn’t it Harry?”

HO: “I guess so Bruce.  I tend to stick to the coastline myself.  You certainly live an eventful life Bruce. And what a way to round off your five years!”

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BtB: “I’m going to be around for a while yet Harry, the Scottish Government have a year to read through all the data the independent monitoring team supplied them with in order to decide what happens next.”

HO: “Hopeful Bruce?”

BtB: “I certainly am Harry.  I’d like to think we’ve made a good impression and we can point to lots of benefits we’ve brought to the area’s wildlife and environments.  Not to mention all those folk who’ve come to see us and fallen in love with Knapdale.”

HO: “Fingers crossed then Bruce!  Pop round to the holt any time and bring the kitts.”

BtB: “Will do Harry, I’m off for a lie down, it’s been a long day again!”

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Final Project Update from SBT Manager Simon Jones

Scottish Beaver Trial: Project Update No. 22.  11th June 2011

This is the 22nd and final update from the Scottish Beaver Trial (SBT) and covers activity between 6th November 2013 and 31st May 2014

Project Background

The SBT is a partnership project between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the Scottish Wildlife Trust and hosts Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) to undertake a time-limited, five-year trial reintroduction of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) to Knapdale, Mid-Argyll.

The licence for the Trial was granted by the Scottish Government in May 2008, with the first beavers being released in May 2009. The Trial ran until May 2014. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) co-ordinates the independent scientific monitoring of the trial, reporting progress to the Scottish Government and monitoring how the conditions of the licence are being addressed on the ground.

What’s been happening in Knapdale?

It has been several months since my last update and this delay has been because I wanted to wait until after May to let you know about the final few months of the field monitoring phase of the Scottish Beaver Trial, which was completed on the 31st May 2014.

Following the first releases of beavers back in 2009, it is with a mixture of pride, relief and some sadness that I can report that the five year scientific monitoring period has been successfully delivered and has now come to an end.

The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind in terms of activity but the final sets of field data have now been collected and handed over to Scottish Natural Heritage and the various Independent Monitoring Partners in time for them to begin their analysis and report writing. But more of that later.

Last winter turned out to be another mild, wet one through on the West coast and the Knapdale beavers did not have to endure frozen lochs and icy vegetation as happened in the first two winters of the trial. As usual for these seasons, the beavers remained active throughout winter and early spring, and although their body weights dropped as they used up their fat reserves, they remained in good condition and were regularly caught on the infra-red camera traps deployed around the trial site release lochs (see image below).

At the time of writing there are 10 beavers confirmed in the trial area, a family of four at Loch Linne, a family of three at Loch Coille Bharr (which also includes the Dubh Loch flooded forest area), a breeding pair at Lochan Buic and a single adult male at Lochan Beag. It is still unclear whether any of last years’ kits have survived the winter but unfortunately it does not look promising for these youngsters. Although a sad loss, events such as this and the other births, deaths and movements of the beavers help to provide valuable information from the trial process, which aids our understanding of the dynamics of a beaver population and better informs the final reporting from the trial.

sj1Adult beaver ‘Bjornar’ caught on camera trap by Loch Coille Bharr © Scottish Beaver Trial

sj2Dubh Loch beaver site seen from the air showing flooded forest and new viewing platform at bottom left © Scottish Beaver Trial

In contrast to the winter, early spring was relatively cold and prolonged this year and even coastal Argyll (warmed by the Gulf Stream) seemed to sit dormant longer than usual. Spring came eventually, though, and it seems fitting to me that the five year monitoring period ended when Knapdale was at its best, with carpets of bluebells, forests a dozen shades of green and the first white water lilies opening under blue skies.

sj3Knapdale loch and forest  © Scottish Beaver Trial

Interpretation & Educational Activities

While the fieldwork element of the trial has now finished, the public engagement certainly has not and, true to form, the educational work carried out by the SBT Educational Team over the past few months – led by Ranger Oly Hemmings – has been impressive. Between November 2013 and this May, 2,375 people (including 622 school children) took part in 39 beaver walks, talks and events.

Highlights included 19 ‘Beavers at Home’ and ‘Beavers are Back’ lessons delivered at 8 schools; a highly successful ‘Love your Beavers’ event at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh in February; and the guest appearance of Bruce the Beaver and Oly Hemmings at the VisitScotland Tourism Expo at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow in April.

sj4Castlehill Primary School children from Campbeltown build an arch tolearn about ‘keystone species’ © Scottish Beaver Trial

sj5Bruce the Beaver at VisitScotland Tourism Expo 2014 © Argyll and the Isles Tourism Ltd.

sj6Poster for Easter 2014 SBT guided walks programme © Scottish Beaver Trial.

Research and Publications

Although unconnected to the Independent Monitoring Programme associated with the trial, a series of behind the scenes research efforts have been carried out with partner organisations around the UK and Europe. In total, articles have been published in 13 scientific journals, many focusing on novel veterinary techniques for working with beavers and furthering our knowledge of the genetics of beaver populations across the Eurasian range of Castor fiber. Both of these research areas are of significance, particularly if Scotland decides to lead the way in the UK with further reintroductions to the wild at some point in the future.sj7RZSS Veterinary Surgeon, Romain Pizzi, examining an anaesthetised beaver using keyhole surgery © RZSS

Liaison Work

Following on from the 2007 public consultation run by the SBT Partners prior to their Scottish Government licence application, we had long planned to repeat the exercise towards the end of the trial. This would help us gauge whether people’s opinions had changed about the beavers and their impacts over the past six years.

During February and March this year we ran an eight week long consultation exercise focused on the local area to gather opinions on the presence of beavers. A public talk was held in Kilmartin, followed by several drop-in sessions at local community hotspots and an on-line survey via the SBT website, plus a separately commissioned YouGov poll.

The responses received confirmed our view that the majority of people support wild beavers living in Knapdale (84% of Mid Argyll residents, with 11% disagreeing). Additionally, 80% of local people believed that beavers had helped tourism and the area’s economy (4% disagreed). Further afield, 74% of Scottish adults who were aware of the trial support beaver reintroduction, with 6% disagreeing.

One of the highlights of the last few months was undoubtedly the two events held in mid-May to celebrate the successful delivery of the field monitoring phase of the trial. On the 14th May, the SBT Team left their wellies and waterproofs behind and donned their best Sunday clothes to attend an event at the Scottish Parliament, hosted by Mike Mackenzie MSP. Speakers at the event included Professor Colin Galbraith (Chair of the SBT Steering Group) and Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Environment and Climate Change), who reflected on the last five years of the trial process. An opportunity for guests and MSPs to try their hand at beaver games and taking ‘selfies’ with special guest Bruce the Beaver was too good an opportunity to miss for many attendees!sj8Team Beaver at the Scottish Parliament, May 2014 © Phil Hannah

sj9Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Bruce, Michael Russell MSP and Paul Wheelhouse MSP © Phil Hannah

Media Activity

You may recall from my last update that the Trial was Highly Commended in the 2013 Nature of Scotland Awards. Well, we went one better in January when the Scottish Beaver Trial was awarded the ‘UK’s Best Conservation Project, 2013’ by readers of the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine! Many thanks to all of you that voted for us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASBT Project Manager Simon Jones with BBC Countryfile Magazine’s award for ‘UK’s Best Conservation Project, 2013’ © Scottish Beaver Trial

This award also caught the attention of the national media. Other media highlights over the last few months include a feature on the role beavers might play in flood alleviation following the devastating floods experienced in the south of England (theguardian.com, 29 January 2014) and coverage of the results from the public consultation exercise (BBC News, 29th April 2014).

Fittingly for a project that has captured the imagination of millions of people, we ended on a media high and were delighted to welcome back the BBC Springwatch crew in the final days of the field monitoring period. Two films were aired in separate episodes (numbers 4 and 5) and these investigated the underwater world of the Knapdale beavers, explored some exciting research in the field looking at the use of predator scents to deter beavers, and included an interview on progress to date and the next steps in the trial process.sj11Roisin Campbell-Palmer, SBT Field Operations Manager, explains a predator scent experiment to a BBC Springwatch cameraman © Scottish Beaver Trial

So what happens now…

Even though the five year monitoring period is over, the Trial is not. Over the next 12 months all of the data collected by staff, volunteers and independent monitoring partners from thousands of hours of fieldwork will be analysed, collated and summarised into a synthesis report by Scottish Natural Heritage, who will then present it to the Scottish Government this time next year.

The report will cover not only the findings from the Scottish Beaver Trial, but also the findings from the work of the Tayside Beaver Study Group, Beaver Salmonid Working Group, National Species Reintroduction Forum and experiences from our neighbours in Europe who have already reintroduced beavers back into the wild.

This report will be considered by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change and colleagues in the Scottish Government, and we hope to learn of the decision on the future of beavers in Scotland at some point in the second half of 2015.

The beavers in Knapdale will remain in place until such a decision is made. The site, managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, will remain open to visitors as usual and the Scottish Beaver Trial Partners are leaving Oly Hemmings in place as a Beaver Ranger to keep a presence on the ground during this time.

Oly will work part time and continue to run guided walks, talks and educational events as well as keeping a watchful eye over the beaver families. Oly will be supported and line managed by Roisin Campbell-Palmer (RZSS Conservation Projects Manager, rcampbellpalmer@rzss.org.uk) from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, who will be based at Edinburgh Zoo but will lead on the low key field monitoring of the beavers during this period. I will maintain an overview of the trial on behalf of the Scottish Wildlife Trust from their Edinburgh offices.

Many thanks to you for following these project updates. Although they will cease, you can continue to keep up to date with what’s happening at the trial by visiting our website, blog, Facebook page and on Twitter. In the autumn, the SBT Partners also plan to publish our final report on the Trial, which will be very much the story of the project and will be separate from the reports issued in 2015 by the Independent Monitoring Partners and SNH. Please look out for links to the report on the SBT website and social media. You can also see an excellent short film on the highlights from the last five years on the SBT website home page.

Lastly, it only remains to be said that it has been an amazing five years for all involved. A huge thank you to all the staff, volunteers, partners, funders and stakeholders who have contributed to this ground-breaking project. There have been many twists and turns in the fortunes of the Knapdale beaver families since 2009, and I’m sure that they will continue over the coming months. I for one will be keeping my fingers firmly crossed for them.

Best wishes and farewell for now.

Simon Jones, Scottish Beaver Trial Project Manager and all at the Scottish Beaver Trial Team.

 

 

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Highlights of the past 5 years

The monitoring phase of the Scottish Beaver Trial is now over. The video shows some of the highlights, special moments and achievements of the Trial and ‘Team Beaver’ over the last 5 years.

The beavers themselves will remain in their Knapdale homes until the Scottish Government come to a decision about the future of beavers in Scotland. So there is still plenty of time to visit the area and go beaver watching, or join in with one of our twice weekly guided walks with our Education Ranger over the summer months…..  just don’t forget to bring your midge repellent!

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Summer Guided Walks

Guided Walks Poster 2014

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Sara’s Blog

Sara on the canoe

Sara`s Experience

Hi, my name is Sara and I come from Germany where I studied agricultural science and finished my studies majoring in nature conservation and landscape ecology at the end of last year. For my diploma thesis I investigated the impact of the European beaver on the dragonfly fauna. Since then I am now totally fascinated about these ecosystem engineers and their positive effect on the environment. The Scottish Beaver Trial gave me the the perfect opportunity to learn more about the biology and behavior of beavers as well as getting experience in public relations and nature conservation politics. A dream came true when the SBT-Team welcomed me to Knapdale in the middle of January. In the following weeks and months I was able to learn all about the work at the Trial, like observing the beaver families and their territories closely by doing field sign surveys, camera trapping and beaver observations. This also gave me the chance to explore the fairy tale woodland and it’s wildlife of Argyllshire. I also came across Scottish history like the village “Kilmory Oib”.

Kilmory Oib


Working with Oly (SBT Education Ranger), I learned a lot about how to give people a deeper insight when it comes to beavers, from their biology and behaviour to the history of beavers in Great Britain. Joining her at the guided walks, public consultations and educational programs gave me a great impression about the public opinion about reintroducing Beavers in Scotland.

Pat Batty, an independent scientist of the British Dragonfly Society also gave me the chance to work with her. Helping her investigating the dragonfly fauna and the effect beavers might have in Scotland on these insects gives me a bigger picture in this subject. In the beginning our study focused on the larvae, but contrary to the predictions I was also lucky to see adult dragonflies and damselflies which are out and about at Dubh Loch-beaver pond at this early time of year.

Four-spotted Chaser

Large Red Damselfly, male and female in “Tandem” position

 

My internship will be finished simultaneously with the end of the monitoring period of the Scottish Beaver Trial, in May. So I was also in the fortunate position to participate in the closing celebrations of the project like the Edinburgh Parliament Event and the Ceilidh in Cairnbaan!

I guess after reading my “wee” report it’s unnecessary to tell you what a great time I have had and how happy I am to have been part of such a unique and successful project, like the Scottish Beaver Trial.

 

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