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Wildlife Encounters

Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

This story goes back a long way. When I still lived in England, I was on holiday in Scotland with my wife and two very small sons. We were staying with my brother and had gone out exploring for the day, on 19th September 1971. In the late afternoon, we drove into the town of Ayr and bought some snack food and drove to a carpark at the south end of the beach to eat it. In the car park, there were a number of large concrete beams forming a broken platform. As we sat eating our food, we suddenly became aware of a Weasel - Mustela nivalis, apparently dancing on the concrete beams. It flung itself about, disappearing between the beams and reappearing at another spot, repeatedly. I put my telephoto lens on the camera, crept out of the car (on the far side from the weasel) and positioned myself with the lens resting on top of the car. The weasel continued its dance and despite the fading evening light I was able to get a couple of photos.

Thumbnail by kennedyh
Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

As I continued to watch the weasel, I realised that it wasn't alone. A Stonechat - Saxicola torquata, was sitting on the barbed-wire fence, fascinated by the performance of the weasel. I had read of the weasel's skill in bewitching birds by its dance and eventually catching the bird and watched in amazement. Suddenly the weasel appeared right by the fence and climbed part way up the fence-post closest to the stonechat, giving me the chance of a unique picture of weasel and stonechat together.

This message was edited Jun 28, 2004 8:26 PM

Thumbnail by kennedyh
Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

We did not want to see the stonechat come to harm, but were fascinated to see the eventual outcome of this little scene. Suddenly the stonechat flew off and we became aware of a man walking a dog, passing through the carpark. We were glad that the stonechat was safe, but sorry not to see the whole play through to the end. We kept watching a little longer and the weasel did put in one more appearance and gave me the chance of one last photo, before disappearing for the last time.

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The Heart of Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

Loved the pictures and the story. Thanks!

Brookeville, MD(Zone 7a)

What a great encounter you were able to witness! He/she's so cute! Are they usually piebald? I think that's the right word.

Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

I think it was having a shake as I took that last picture and it's white belly has flashed into view. I have another picture from the same side that does not show a patch of white.

Brookeville, MD(Zone 7a)

I'd love to see it if you'd like to post it. I know they look adorable but they're deadly hunters!

Crestview, FL(Zone 7b)

what a wonderful story and accompanying pictures.. thanks for sharing!

Lutz, FL(Zone 9b)

It's so wonderful when we get to watch nature this way, especially when we know what the critter is doing, like this weasel. Great shots!

Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

CaptMicha, here is my last picture of the weasel. I was wrong about it showing the same side. This picture shows the other side and shows a lot less white. I have been looking up my books on the subject. Weasels in the northern part of their range moult into a pure white coat in the winter, but apparently this does not happen in the British Isles. The books make a feature of the fact that the demarcation line between the brown upperside and the white underside is almost always irregular and wavering, whereas in the stoat it is clearly defined and straight. It does seem that my weasel had this irregular demarcation carried rather further than usual!

Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

Sorry, forgot to add the picture! Here it is!

Thumbnail by kennedyh
Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

I've really enjoyed this thread and your photos. I didn't know they caught birds...Didn't know much about them at all, actually.

Brookeville, MD(Zone 7a)

Great pic but.... the other two were just a little better. Floridan made a great comment. I usually enjoy watching wildlife more if I know what the animal is doing. You sound like you know alot about wildlife.

Churchill, Victoria, Australia(Zone 10a)

Thanks! I left this one out originally, because it wasn't quite as good as the others. I have spent a lot of my time for some 45 years studying natural history as a hobby and have acquired a fair bit of knowledge over the years.

Pittsburgh, PA

I'm glad I reached way back for this one!
I never heard of either animal, much less the behavior!

And that was one goodlooking weasel!

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