Animals

By Alex Matthews


This beaver was left all at sea when it decided to try some offshore swimming.

The fresh water mammal was spotted making its way south along Sandwich Bay in Kent.

Not used to swimming in strong tides and salt water, the tired beaver hauled itself onto the beach every 10 minutes to catch its breath.

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It was spotted on Saturday morning by bemused Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory assistant warden Steffan Walton.

After calling for help, he and observatory trustee Andrew Lipczynski spent over an hour accompanying the beaver on its trip down the beach and warning dog walkers to stay away.

Eventually they passed their duties on to bird watching colleagues further down the beach.

Andrew took several pictures of the tired beaver swimming for the shore and resting on the beach before continuing on its journey.

The 61-year-old , who lives near Sandwich, Kent, said: “I am a trustee of the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory and most mornings I am out there doing census work.

“I had been counting birds for a couple of hours and had just gone to fetch a cup of tea.

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“Then our assistant warden Steffan gave me a call with the famous words ‘there is a beaver in the sea’.

“I think he had to pinch himself a couple of times before he believed it.

“I headed straight back to the sea front to see Steffan pointing out the beaver swimming a couple of feet from the shore.

“There was no mistaking what it was. It was a big beaver.

“It was heading south and came out of the water every five to ten minutes. It was not used to the salt water and the tide.

“We watched it come past us and thought it was not doing well.

“We thought about trying to rescue it but you have to be really careful with beavers. They have big teeth, claws and a large tail.

“They haven’t got good eyesight but as soon as we started to approach it could detect us and started swimming out into deeper water.”

Andrew and Steffan followed the beaver down the beach for an hour, warning dog walkers to keep their dogs on a lead to make sure the beaver was not disturbed.

After an hour and a half, they passed their watch on to friends further down the beach and returned to taking the census.

Andrew has lived in the area since 1987 and says he has never seen a beaver swimming in the sea before.

He said: “I haven’t heard anything about what happened to the beaver since we last saw it.

“About 10 years ago the Kent Wildlife Trust had a beaver reintroduction programme just a few miles from Sandwich Bay so that’s probably where it came from.

“This is certainly the first time I’ve seen a beaver swimming in the sea.

“I don’t know what he was doing out there, but Saturday was actually International Beaver Day, so perhaps he was raising awareness and boldly going where no beaver had gone before.”