April 3rd   Leave a comment

The Crail beaver this afternoon on Roome Bay - RIP

The Crail beaver this afternoon on Roome Bay – RIP

I have had one of the biggest wildlife surprises of my life today. There is a beaver – dead unfortunately – but still a beaver and on Roome Bay beach. I met Jimmy Aird at Morrisons in St Andrews this afternoon on my way home and he told me he had seen a dead beaver that morning in Crail. I told him I would eat my hat if he was right: there are beavers now introduced back in Scotland but they are in the far West at Knapdale and with a small “unofficial” population in Tayside. Not so far as the beaver might swim as it turns out, but far enough that beavers were not really on my top ten list of animals I expected to see in Crail, and on the beach. And it’s huge! Slightly inflated after death, but still as big as a dog, with large orange buck teeth and the characteristic flat, hairless paddle of a tail. I think it must have swum down the Tay and got washed out to sea and then washed in to Roome Bay sometime in the last day or so. The sea is very cold and beavers are probably fairly buoyant so even though it seemed fairly fresh it may have died a while ago. Another scenario might be that it may even have been alive when it arrived in Crail. It was high up and above the tideline so unless someone moved the body, it might have crawled up the beach before expiring on contemplating the treeless East Neuk. It’s all a bit CSI but I do like the idea of a brave beaver heading off to sea to look for new territories like a Viking. One of the introduced Knapdale beavers surprised researchers in 2009 by heading out across sea lochs so it is not too far-fetched. Beavers were native to Scotland but were hunted to extinction in the 1600s. Now they are back! I look forward to a wolf or lynx in Crail sometime soon (after I have eaten my hat).

P.S. Glad it’s not April 1st…

It's a beaver!

It’s a beaver!

Paddle tail

Paddle tail

Buck teeth

Buck teeth

Posted April 3, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

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