My lurking in the bushes might be paying off. Last night just on dusk I was down by the lake watching a water vole when a beaver swam past towing a spray of fresh green willow leaves. Just then a pair of mallards flushed noisily from the far bank and alarmed her. With a quick tail slap she dived, towing the branch under water entirely. I watched the chain of bubbles and she came up about 20 metres further on. It must be very tiring trying to tow green leaves under water.
I say ‘she’ because of that pair, the female is very prone to tail slapping, often seeming to do it more or less for fun. Drew calls her ‘Betty’ but I call her ‘The Happy Slapper.’ I watched her as she doggedly continued on her way, swimming steadily and purposefully 250 metres up the lake, straight to the lodge. I could just make her out in the gloom, as she dived with her prize outside the lodge and disappeared. Now why we she go to so much trouble to take a tender spray of willow leaves all that way into the lodge? Could she have kits in there? And are they old enough to be eating green feed?
When we are doing field work on falcons, ferrying food back to the nest is a dead cert giveaway that they are feeding young there. Maybe The Happy Slapper knows something we don’t! But the hide construction is well under way. Despite two days of heavy rain this week we have now got the floor joists down, and Pete and Shaun milled larch planks for the walls under cover from the rain in the Bevis Shed. Meanwhile, undeterred by the noise of the saw mill, a wren has a brood about to fledge from her nest tucked into the blower for the forge.
Coming back from the lake, I passed a field of cull ewes. They are ones that failed to lamb and are destined to be ‘sent down the road’ shortly. Some have ‘broken mouths’, which means that they have teeth missing from their lower incisors and cannot easily eat well enough any more. I noticed that one old ewe had just lambed a pair of twins. One had already had an eye pecked out by crows but the other was on its feet. It’s a little runt of a thing, but sufficient to earn its mother a reprieve and Drew will have to ‘shed her off’ to join the main flock up the hill opposite.