Signs of water beasts

Flanders Moss NNR

In the last couple of weeks we have been seeing signs of water beasts around Flanders. No sightings of the actual animals, not yet. But signs definately.

It probably doesn’t take a tracking expert to deduce what animals has been knawing through trees. Yes, beavers. Beavers have been recorded on the Forth for the last few years. In the previous 2017-18 survey of beavers in Scotland they were found to be just near to the Frew bridge on the Thornhill to Kippen road (survey results here) and it looks like they are back. These signs can be spotted from the road and show recent activity and also older signs.

Recent signs shwoing fresh wood chips.

These signs show that beavers are only about 3km via water filled ditches from Flanders Moss. We think they might like the Moss because of it ditches and streams and if they build some dams in the right place on Flanders they might help to make the Moss wetter. Beavers as ecosystem engineers can bring great benefits by creating wetlands that are home to a host of wildlife and also capture and hold floodwaters so reducing flooding downstream.

But it should be said that having beavers around isn’t great for everyone. They can cause flooding on farmland and might even damage some of the bunding and dams we have put in on Flanders Moss. It will be hard to predict exactly what impact these fascinating animals will have but the fact is that beavers are now here to stay and they are something that we as a society will have to live with, good and bad.

Older signs of beaver activity
The bark on these trees is chewed for food.

And a little way upstream were signs of another water beast. Otters. Otters seem well established along the Goodie Water now . It was a year ago that we first caught them on film (here) and a recent walk along the banks of the river revealed extensive sprainting. This is where otters mark their territory by leaving droppings in the same place. By the amount of poo it looks like this is a bit of an otter motorway.

So really good to see water beasts around the moss. If you are walking along some of the water courses in the area, keep low, keep quiet and keep your eyes pealed. Any records for either of these water beasts can be sent in via the Mammal Society mammal mapper app – see here. Your records will help to get the bigger picture.

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