It’s mid August and the swifts have headed south again. It’s always a sad day when they go and we no longer hear their wonderful screaming as they dash around the buildings where they nest on warm summer evenings.
I have been working on the Forfar Swift Conservation Project this summer, though it has been affected by Covid and I haven’t been able to visit schools or carry out training for the Angus Council Planners. However, I have continued the survey of the town to find out where the birds nest and gather in screaming parties, and with the help of fellow surveyors, the map is filling up with where the birds have been seen. We will put the nestboxes up next month so there are lots of new places for young swifts to nest when they return to breed next May.
Our beaver tours have been busier than ever and Joan and I have loved taking out visitors from all over the UK to see the local beaver families at both dawn and dusk. The families on the Ericht and at Bamff have both had two kits and it has been really interesting to see how they have different diets at the two locations. On the Ericht they tend to collect their food from the bank to eat back in the water eg Sweet cicely, Butterbur and Comfrey, while at Bamff they frequently graze on grass, rushes and even clover flowers, and spend a lot of time away from the pond.
Our Beaver Canoe Safaris on the River Tay in Aberfeldy have been fully booked and, apart from a few weeks when the water levels were low in late July/ early August, we’ve had good sightings of the beavers at the two lodges we paddle past.
A survey carried out over winter has found the beaver population in the Tay and Forth river catchment has grown from around 500 five years ago to around 950 now. This is good news, but it is offset by the news that 115 beavers – 20% of the population and most likely some of the beavers that we watch – were killed under licence last year. I wish we could change this and are still waiting for the outcome on the Trees for Life legal challenge. More info here: https://treesforlife.org.uk/beaver-management-key-arguments/