Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Weasels abound

Over the last month I have seen an increase in Weasel sightings on my trail cam. I know weasels frequent the site as do all the other mustelids, I have records of badger, otter, stoat, mink and polecat, but there is something about the weasel. The badger will always be my favourite animal but there is something about the character of this tenacious beast that interests me.

It always surprises me how small weasels are, between 175 and 248 cm and they can move like lightening. Due to their frenetic foraging pace getting a photo of a weasel is difficult. I stumbled upon one in 2014 which hid in a tiny hole in the trees and managed to get a few shots as he watched and waited for me to leave.

Mostly diurnal their daily activity occurs in periods of 12-130 minutes. Its high metabolism and hunting style means that it must eat up to a third of its body weight a day. Foraging is usually done undercover and quickly presenting two problems for camera trapping. In fact reviewing my records shows that all sightings have been in September and November or March April.

The first clip shows the weasel in the bottom right moving out of shot and then running back around the field of view.

Earlier on the 7th November I got a good clip showing the Weasel climbing a tree, showing of its agility. Weasels are primarily predators of small mammals and this particular tree is a favourite of Wood Mouse who forage around it and themselves climb it. Interestingly the mice are never seen before it is fully dark so it is possible that the weasel is following a scent trail.

It might seem the weasel is adept at climbing but two days later on the 9th it had less success at climbing as captured in the third clip.

To finish with a statement about what this means. Recent sightings represent a significant increase of presence for this species. It suggests, that given weasels  foraging distance of between 549 and 840m often with preferred foraging areas within 100m of the den suggest that at least over this winter an individual has taken up residence. With the vegetation gone this means that further sightings maybe be made or this could be an individual dispersing through this area and will be gone soon. It will be interesting to see.

To finish I leave you with my picture taken back in 2014. Note the barbed wire to give you some sense of scale of this enigmatic creature.

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