Beaver *Keystone Species*

Yesterdays visit to a local beaver dam was very successful. There was lots of obvious beaver activity in and around the dam with signs of gnawed branches, several beaver trails and slipways for access in and out of the river. After taking a couple of short films and several photographs it was time to decide where to locate a camera trap.

Beaver dam

I was standing downstream in shallow water where dam allowed some water to pass through. The water level on the other side of the dam was about three feet higher.

clip 1

I have visited this short stretch of river for approximately five years. There has always been a single beaver dam, although it has been rebuilt several times within a distance of approximately two hundred metres. When the dam reaches an enormous size the pond water banks up and eventually tips over into neighbouring agricultural fields causing localised flooding. When this happens local farmers will dismantle the dam using tractors with chains. They don't harm the beaver though. It just moves a little further up or downstream and builds a new dam.

Beaver activity
River bank entry area as filmed on camera trap footage.

clip 2

After setting up the camera trap I left for home. The following morning I retrieved the camera and was rewarded with four nice clips of the beaver.

clip3 - beaver slipping into river

Beaver slipway
The same slipway as in the camera trap footage.

clip 4

Behind the dam I could see many fish and frogs and when I arrived ducks took flight. Beavers are one of natures keystone species, engineering habitat suitable for many other species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.