4. Lodge

Flow-stymier, conjurer of habitats, tireless labourer, he beavers on.  He glides, dips and splashes and with only a few flaps of his huge paddle tail he’s propelled down and away into their private, murky, underground world.

They have spent weeks building this palace of logs, sticks, plants and moss, and cemented with mud. It is predator-proof, and top security: only through concealed, underwater entrances can they slip inside, unseen, into several cosy rooms. It is constantly patched and padded, surveyed and extended: they are master architects, builders, plasterers and technicians all in one. Deep inside the kits are bundled warm in their woody nursery, and the watery larder is well-stocked with branches and clumps of foliage gathered and dragged to the bottom to feed them through long months. They have changed the course of the stream to merrily reshape the land to their needs and signs of them are all around – orange teeth marks on tree trunks as they’ve re-sculpted with relentless felling, sawing and dam-building.  Like some sort of furry dog-bear-fish-guinea pig, they are pool-creators, water-filterers, comically serious, fluffily appealing.

But not everyone finds them curious, quirky and admirable. Farmers along the river Tay don’t welcome their arrival, their happy spread. They see disruptors, undermining the stability of riverbanks, damaging saplings, mischievous field-flooders. With knitted brows they count the potential costs of equipment hire and flood bank repair in the face of unstoppable beavering. Could these be the ultimate predators? Metal super-bears rolling over, baring their huge, jagged, lodge-breaking mechanical teeth? Who will ultimately win the war?

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