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East Anglia Future 50

Beavers get the appliance of science

PUBLISHED: 16:10 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:25 16 March 2019

A pair of beavers were released into the Essex countryside Picture: Russell Savory

A pair of beavers were released into the Essex countryside Picture: Russell Savory

Archant

There is no shortage of technology being used to record the activities of a pair of beavers that were released into the north Essex countryside this week.

The effect the beavers' have on water flows is being heavily monitored   Picture: Russell SavoryThe effect the beavers' have on water flows is being heavily monitored Picture: Russell Savory

The rodents are part of an exciting rewilding and natural flood management project in Finchingfield.

It is hoped the beavers’ natural instinct to build dams will help slow water flows into the village, which floods on a regular basis.

Because this is a pioneering scheme, a lot of evidence is being gathered and the rodents’ activities documented.

READ MORE: Finchingfield: Flooded roads, closed schools and even a touch of village pond surfing

Nocturnal

Wildlife filmmaker Russell Savory, who intends to visit the site on a regular basis, said he has four cameras at his disposal including a thermal imaging device to capture the beavers’ nocturnal comings and goings.

“I’ve been tasked with getting footage of a beaver felling a tree at night,” he said.

Monitoring equipment on a man-made 'leaky dam' on the Spains Hall Estate Picture: Ross BentleyMonitoring equipment on a man-made 'leaky dam' on the Spains Hall Estate Picture: Ross Bentley

More digital equipment is being used to record the water flows on the stream where the beavers are living and on Finchingfield Brook where the man-made leaky dam has been constructed to compare with the beavers’ efforts.

Solar powered monitors will record water levels, the velocity of the water and the saturation levels of surrounding ground, and the data sent to researchers at Kings College in London, who are partners in the project.

Water quality testing will also take place at regular intervals.

“The team at Kings College have joked that this must be the most heavily monitored stretch of river in the country,” said estate manager Archie Ruggles-Brise.

Online webcam

In addition, aerial footage has been taken of the site, so the changes in the landscape can be recorded as the beavers set to felling trees and building dams.

Meanwhile, armchair wildlife fans can enjoy views of the beavers from the comfort of their home via a time-lapse video feed on the Spains Hall Estate website - go to www.spainshallestate.co.uk and follow the links.

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