Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stoats - The First Encounter

I thought it time to move away from the bird photographs for a couple of posts to tell you about a wonderful wildlife encounter and probably one of my most memorable yet in the UK. I must admit I was filled with doubt on that grey morning that I headed out at first light to try and take some photographs of the elusive Stoat and was under no illusion that the task would be easy. I had some good information on a site where a family had been seen reasonably regularly but even if I managed to find them I expected that would only be the start of difficulties as they were going to be a tricky subject to photograph due to their small size and speed. Not that I had any experience with them as all I have seen in the past had been a fleeting glimpse as one has run across the road or rapidly disappeared into vegetation.

My confidence was further dented when the was no sign of them in the expected area, and decided to widen my search. Now some of my friends say I am lucky when it comes to wildlife photography and of course there is always a element of this but I do also work very hard at it and try and maximise any chance of success. Fortune was certainly with me that day as suddenly before me was not one but six Stoats running around.

I watched them for a while, decided which direction they were heading and then settled down at a distance in the hope that they would come to me. The sit, become part of the landscape and wait for them to come to you is often the best approach for a close wildlife encounter.
It difficult to convey with a photograph the speed and agility of these mini predators and they are certainly a serious challenge to both camera and photographer.
A flying Stoat
One of the adults found a vole nest and efficiently and systematically came out with several voles which were taken to feed the nearly fully grown kits amongst the rocks. The family of Stoats disappeared then for about 40 minutes with just one staying in view, apparently on 'look out' duty.
This lone adult went on a long wander before returning to the family and also disappeared in to the rocks.
I sat and waited and after about 10 minutes and then the family group started to emerge, it appeared it was time for another hunting foray.
This was the start of an amazing hour with the stoat family but that will have to wait now until the next post.

12 comments:

holdingmoments said...

A beautiful set Rich, especially that last one.
They look so cute and cuddly; but expert hunters.

TexWisGirl said...

they are gorgeous. impish, yet proud too.

Maelgi said...

Rich hello

nice, friendly, a sad look, so I see are ermine, their skin is in danger .. good shots. again see the family. I like all these animals, greetings from South America.

Javier Cañadas said...

Nice.

neil said...

Cracking photos!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Words cannot adequately convey how pleased I am for you and your experiences in getting these absolutely outstanding images. Each and very one of them is just so beautiful, such warmth and clarity. I could never decide which was my favorite, for each of them far surpasses the next, just brilliant. Congratulations~

David Álvarez said...

Amazing series!! They seem very confident.

elcamperoinquieto.com said...

Really nice pictures of this especial tiny carnivorous creature!
Saludos camperos!

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite British mammals; outstanding photographic record of an amazing encounter by the sounds of it. Well done - superb work!

Cheers,
Rob

Natalie Sabin said...

oh they are so sweet!

wayne lowery said...

Brilliant shots.

Rich Steel said...

Many thanks for your comments. Hopefully I might catch up with some more next summer. Forever hopeful :)

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