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Week one: Charlie Hamilton James's Scottish beaver stakeout

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Roger Webb Roger Webb | 13:08 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

For the first time in 400 years, beavers are once again swimming in UK waters. As part of a major scientific trial, the first nationally extinct mammal ever to be re-introduced to the UK is living free once again. This year, we're sending Charlie Hamilton James and the Springwatch Adventure Team to the home of these released beavers - Knapdale Forest in Scotland.

Charlie Hamilton James

Charlie Hamilton James

Charlie is leading a mission to reveal the lives, biology and future of these most secretive of animals. The forest is dense, water logged and plagued by midges - it’s going to be a tough challenge. Using the latest technology and a lot of determination, the team hope to watch beavers hard at work cutting down trees, building dams.

Charlie will also investigate the broader issue of re-introducing beavers and other animals back into our countryside. Why do we do this? Should we be doing this at all? It’s an emotive and controversial subject.

A beaver in Knapdale Forest

One of the Knapdale beavers

These Scottish beavers may have hit the headlines, but they’ve never been studied on camera in so much detail, with so much technology. Centuries ago, we would’ve all been familiar with beavers in Britain. As Springwatch provides a unique insight into their lives, perhaps we will once again get to know and enjoy these remarkable animals.

Roger Webb is the Series Producer of Springwatch, which starts 8pm Monday 30 May, BBC Two

Find out more about the beaver reintroduction project and have your say in the debate.


  • Comment number 1.

    Woohoo love Charlie! He's so funny.

  • Comment number 2.

    can't wait ! love the way Charlie commentates on the animals behaviour.

  • Comment number 3.

    Countryfile magazine reported that Gordon Buchanan would be doing the beavers filming for Springwatch, is Gordon going to be involved somewhere else? Surely you can't deprive us of Gordon!

  • Comment number 4.

    Amazing news about the beavers. Can't wait to see Charlie's work on this.

  • Comment number 5.

    We were at the Beaver trial in Knapdale in April and really disappointed not to see any beavers but did at least see all their handy (or is it teeth!) work. Fantastic to see. We're looking forward to seeing your pictures and footage in areas we weren't able to get to. Brilliant project, so exciting. Well done Springwatch.

  • Comment number 6.

    400 years after the beavers were wiped out in Britain by man, we are now able to see their amazing return thanks to Charlieand the Spring Watch team, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society for Scotland. This is a huge acheivment for nature and future generations.

  • Comment number 7.

    Please get your facts right BBC. Beavers have been living in Scotland for over a decade now:

  • Comment number 8.

    I have a house in the US with a river and beavers (and some forestry and bears) you pay less taxes if you manage the land for wildlife/ The state must approve the forestry plan and they excluded cutting by the river because of the butterflies - splendid but they did not tell the beavers who cleared the whole area - luckily as the program showed the spiked top of the trees identifies the culprit . We had a family with three kits and I used to sit by the river with the male beaver for company - he always appreciated precut branches and went though 1 inch branches as though he had inbuilt hydraulic shears in his mouth.

  • Comment number 9.

    I didnt know until now, arrandir, that beavers were being re introduced. So carry on BBC you are doing a great job.

  • Comment number 10.

    charlie hamilton james 1st class camra man top guy for the beaver project, but and its big 1 beavers have been seen at loch of the lowes dunkeld for the last 7yrs that i know of any comments.

  • Comment number 11.

    Beavers are amazing dam engineers. It was so cute that the beaver last night in the Springwatch appeared with a huge branch and carried it through the canal he created. Fantastic video! n_n

  • Comment number 12.

    You forgot the most inportent answer, How long did it take for the beaver to cut down the tree? please yours john savage

  • Comment number 13.

    We are frequent visitors to Knapdale and found last weekend that further south on the peninsula there was a large amount of damage to trees and shrubs. We assume this is due to the recent gales, particularly close to the sea where the winds would also be salt-laden. The trees almost look as if they have been burnt, and our buddleia is completely dessicated. Will they recover this year, and has this affected the vegetation where the beavers are living?

  • Comment number 14.

    very curious about what these beavers are eating apart from the elms?

  • Comment number 15.

    The beavers are cute but pine martins are so much cuter!

  • Comment number 16.

    Loved the footage from Knapdale. Charlie Hamilton-James is great!

  • Comment number 17.

    As a canoeist I have to comment on Charlie's paddling. When paddling solo it's better to sit on the bow seat facing backwards; this makes the boat more sable and flatter on the water.
    Great to see the beaver behaviour at night. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 18.

    Good evening everybody,In the Netherlands in The Biesbosch National Park also reintroduced the beaver with success so every one can now see beavers in the Biesbosch.It would also hopefully create the right conditions for the return of the Osprey and the White-tailed Eagle as breeding birds. Because of recent nature development of new wetlands the great egret and the little egret have already become familiar elements in the Biesbosch today. There is also an increase in the population of bitterns and kingfishers.

  • Comment number 19.

    Your "fish expert" didn't explain how those migratory species survived back when there were beaver all over the country. Breaking down barriers in the rivers and explaining that beavers will be a problem is nonsense. Those slow-running parts of the river are important for fish fry. Loss of beaver, and therefore beaver ponds in the US resulted in massive reductions of salmon.
    M. M. Pollock, G. R. Pess, T. J. Beechie (2004). "The Importance of Beaver Ponds to Coho Salmon Production in the Stillaguamish River Basin, Washington, USA". North American Journal of Fisheries Management: 749–760. Retrieved Feb. 28, 2010.
    The presence of beaver dams has also been shown to either increase the number of fish, their size, or both. Gard R (1961). "Effects of beaver on trout in Sagehen Creek, California". Journal of Wildlife Management 25 (3): 221–242.

  • Comment number 20.

    Absolutely wonderful T.V. documentation, truly fantastic! Thank you Charlie and team, well done!

  • Comment number 21.

    Great coverage. Particularly enjoyed `the cunning wildlife filming strategies - sticking a tree in the mud and submerging an apple... No flies on Charlie H-J!


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