Brian the Beaver

Our readers probably know already that beavers have returned to both Cheshire and Derbyshire and are thriving in the habitats designated for them by their respective Wildlife Trusts.  Even better news is that, since 1st October 2022, they have been officially designated as native AND protected species in England as well as Scotland. 

The best news of all is that a beaver has recently appeared in the Churnet valley, having made a freedom bid from his East Midlands base and travelled independently up the catchment via the Trent and the Dove.  The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust staff who found him christened him ‘Brian’ but were sorry to hear that his incautious behaviour had led to him being recaptured and returned to his ‘transit camp’.  An enchanting creature, who doesn’t eat fish, improves the habitat and prevents downstream flooding, he and his fellows will be very welcome when they are allowed to return officially...

We learned all of this from Nick Mott (of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust) who gave the talk Fish Live in Trees Too in conjunction with the Riverwoods film. 

He explained that large woody debris in streams, or overhanging them, is invaluable for improving habitats and encouraging the return or survival of all sorts of organisms, from macroinvertebrates like stoneflies and mayflies to young salmon near the other end of the food chain.  And these have indeed appeared in an experimental stretch of the Churnet as a result of increasing the amount of large woody debris, usually in the form of fallen trees or saplings.  Beavers, of course, are supreme purveyors of large woody debris – one of the many reasons for welcoming them.

Another recent arrival, in time for the talk and film, was Baldrik, MCA’s new beaver mascot.  Hailing from the Biosphere Reserve on the flood plain of the River Elbe in northern Germany, Baldrik emigrated with the help of some friends and is now very happy to be lodged in the Moorlands within sniffing distance of the Churnet.

Photo credit: (c) Samuel Ball