We’ve been trying to find out what is happening with the beavers on the middle pond. Drew has put up a couple of camera traps and I have been seeing them use a burrow up at the deep end of the pond. The problem is that their pond backs up into a narrow heavily wooded gulley and when they disappear up there you cannot see what is going on apart from a few ripples. Last night I struck lucky. One of the beavers climbed up the side of the gulley and collected a big bunch of ferns, then it brought the food down to the water and swam to an overhanging multi-stemmed willow on the south bank and disappeared. So it looks like they have kits in there! We will put a camera on the spot and see what is going on.
Meanwhile I have spent a few evenings at the top pond and seen three kits out at the same time. They have been coming out about 2130, in the last hour before dark. One swam about 10 metres along the shoreline and hauled out up the bank and spent some time feeding for itself. So we expect that the parents will have less need to ferry food to them now, although the female still seems to be lactating. The kits seem to be using up to three alternative burrows each about 10 metres apart. Who knows how deep these are? Do they join up or are they separate dens? I have several times seen the adults excavating mud in front of these burrows very energetically, then piling the debris up on the bank nearby, making almost a little promontory. Presumably, when they dig inside the burrow, all the mud slides out of the entrance, making a big underwater spoil heap that then needs to be cleared away so that there is a clear passage underwater.
Drew has noticed the same behaviour with the beavers on the lake. They emerge from the lodge under a big raft of willows that they stored in winter. But he has seen them excavating mud there, so they must be clearing away spoil from tunnelling. Frustratingly Drew has not seen the kits there yet. We think they may be coming on shore at night and he has set some cameras, but no sightings yet.
The weather has been very changeable, but the oldest greylags have now made their first flights like a bomber squadron, and the first brood of swallows left the stable yesterday with a lot of excited twittering over the yard. Spring is giving way to summer.