First beavers born in Essex since the Middle Ages

PUBLISHED: 15:31 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:21 02 July 2020

The first beavers in Essex since the Middle Ages are lockdown babies. Photo: Russell Savory.

The first beavers in Essex since the Middle Ages are lockdown babies. Photo: Russell Savory.

Russell Savory

A natural flood and drought protection scheme in Finchingfield has seen its workforce double after the birth of two playful baby beavers, also known as kits.

The kits at Spains Hall Estate are more active but also clumsier than their parents. Photo: Russell Savory.The kits at Spains Hall Estate are more active but also clumsier than their parents. Photo: Russell Savory.

It comes after their parents, Woody and Willow, have been brought to Finchingfield’s Spains Hall farming estate in 2019. For the first time in 400 years, Essex has been given a ‘paw’ from beavers to reduce flooding in the village.

Archie Ruggles-Brise, Spains Hall Estate Manager, said the beavers are nagging their parents and are beautiful to watch.

“Beavers are very sociable. The kits are a bit more active and clumsier than their parents. We have seen them trying to pull leaves off trees and not doing a great job of it.”

These are branches that the adults bring to build lodges, where the kits are also believed to have been born in.

Mr Ruggles-Brise said he noticed the kits for the first time about three weeks ago, and that they were probably born a month or two ago. “They are proper lockdown babies,” he said.

He added he is very interested in finding solutions using nature, and the beavers seem to be doing just that:

“Beavers build dams in woodland to create ponds. They trap rainwater. That stops big floods coming through.

“In times of drought we see they are not only creating a habitat; they are also releasing water downstream and it means the rivers don’t dry out as quickly,” Mr Ruggles-Brise said.

According to him, the Eurasian beavers are native to Europe, but they were hunted to extinction in the UK more than four centuries ago.

Brendan Joyce, director of Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust, said: ““It will be fascinating to see what effect the new additions to the family will have on shaping the landscape”.

Darren Tansley, river catchment coordinator at Essex Wildlife Trust, says “We always hoped that having beavers present would benefit the wildlife on site, but the changes we have mapped over the past 18 months have exceeded our expectations.

“The main beaver pond is the perfect environment for the kits, the first beavers born in Essex since the Middle Ages.”

You can vote for their names on Facebook and Twitter.

Video credits: Russell Savory/PA.


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