Monday, 13 June 2011

Knapdale Beavers and the Bluebells of Argyll

Having seen ospreys near Kirkcudbright and dolphins in the Moray Firth recently, we fancied trying our luck at seeing an elusive recent reintroduction, beavers. Once native to Scotland, they were hunted to extinction centuries ago. But now they are back!

Beavers were here!

A few families of Telemark beaver were introduced to Knapdale a few years ago, and they have started to breed. North Knapdale is ideal country for them - knarly, heavily wooded ground laced with streams and small lochs. It's part of a plan to increase the biodiversity of Scotland back to something like where it was in years gone by. Sea eagles have been succesfully reintroduced, although wolves would be a step too far for most.

Beaver dam:

Wandering around, we saw plenty of evidence of beavers - park at Barnluasgan and follow the trail - but not any beavers themselves. Turns out they are nocturnal creatures and the only chance of seeing them is at dawn or dusk. We would have to return another time. By coincidence the BBC's Springwatch team was filming in Argyll just after we left, so if you want to see more of them now from the comfort of your own home on BBC iPlayer, click on the link above and view the first four programmes in ther series.

Extended shallows caused by damming the Dubh Loch:

While in the area we fancied a longer walk, so took a trail from Crinan Harbour up to the fault line at the north end of the Taynish peninsula. This goes to a prehistoric fortification called Castle Dounie.

Southwest from Castle Dounie:

There's little to see now at Castle Dounie save a tumbled-down wall, but it is spectacularly sited, and commands a wide view up and down the Sound of Jura - anyone who wanted to control this coast would have had a lookout post stationed at Castle Dounie.

Crinan Harbour from the path to Castle Dounie:

Back down we took a look at Crinan Basin, with its dinky 20ft lighthouse and tranquil waters... tranquil until the heavens suddenly burst open, and we ran back to the car as fast as we could, soaked to the skin and laughing hysterically.

Crinan basin:

It had been a muggy, windy day, with alternate sun and rain - but now it was on for good and we headed home happy, stopping to admire a bank of bluebells on the road home. These run all the way up the road from Lochgilphead to the head of Loch Fyne.

Bluebells of Argyll:

Bluebells thrive in the 'temperate rain forest' of Argyll - I predict a similar success for the beavers!


blueskyscotland said...

Interesting post.I had thought of a beaver watch myself but lack the ability to stay still for hours
outdoors to get good pictures.I,ll just watch it on springwatch like everyone else and avoid the midges.
They tried to reindroduce bears back into the alps a few years ago but it didnt work with the released bears wandering over state borders and causing mayhem in villages.
Wolves would be the same except on an island like Rum.
Put me off camping there though even though I know they never attack humans in the wild.

Robert Craig said...

The best time to go is probably autumn. Earlier sunsets and later sunrises so more chance of seeing the beavers during normal wakey hours. Plus autumn colours in all those oak and birch trees and no midges!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the very informative post. There are nice and diverse ecosystems to observe in Argyll. They have abundant wildlife too. Dolphins Argyll are specially very nice to observe.