We have been checking in on our newest residents at Ewhurst Park – the pair of beavers we released into a specially-prepared seven-acre enclosure last month. Happily, we can report that Chompy and Hazel – as our beavers were named in a schools competition run with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust – are both settling in well.
Our rangers have been monitoring them, including making use of a ‘beaver cam’, which means we can check in on them at any time day or night.
Beavers are especially active at night, and ours have been working hard during the small hours to gather bark and twigs to furnish and modify their lodges. In other words, they’ve been redecorating!
Our night cam captured one of the beavers gnawing away on a tree (presumably Chompy!) while the other swims in the background, looking on curiously, eyes shining brightly – it was a classic case of photobombing (see below – look carefully in the background to see a bright eye travelling from left to right).
In some daytime footage, I was delighted to spot some snipes, their long bills poking into the water looking for insects to eat. We haven’t seen these birds at Ewhurst Park before – either we didn’t know they were there or they have suddenly appeared. Perhaps having beavers on our land is already having the knock-on effect we anticipated: creating an environment that will attract new bird, insect and plant life.
One slight issue is that the beavers have targeted some trees we didn’t want them to take down, but this is resolvable. As a deterrent, there is a type of eco-paint that we can apply around the trunks of the trees we want to preserve – the beavers don’t like the taste.
As mentioned in my previous blog, this is the first time we have had wild beavers in Hampshire since they were hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago. Beavers have successfully re-established themselves in Scotland, and now we hope the same will happen in England. Beavers are known as ‘nature’s architects’ – they help nature to thrive because they create environments in which biodiversity can flourish.
Watch this space because we hope to put our beaver cam online sometime this year.
Meanwhile, here’s another cam clip – this time one of our beavers is gathering construction supplies: swimming with a branch.