Return to Stoats
Long-term readers of this blog may recall the photography session I had last summer with a family of Stoats on the edge of an estuary. I know that the Stoats have been present in this particular area for a number of years and so decided a return visit was called for this summer to see if I could repeat what had been such a memorable encounter. I have thought about that day a great deal in the intervening period, as it had been such a wonderful experience to be in prolonged close proximity to these amazing animals.
Typically given the UK summer this year, the day I had chosen was overcast with intermittent rain and not ideally light for photographing these hyperactive mini predators. I arrived at first light and started my search. Three fruitless hours later and I was starting to think the session was going to be a non-event, when in my peripheral vision I spotted some movement along the rocks at the edge of the estuary. At first I dismissed this as probably being a bird but went to investigate to find a young stoat peering out of the boulders. The search was over and the hard task of photographing stoats amongst piles of rocks began. As you can see from the photographs some of the stoats had a heavy burden of ticks in their ears.
One of the adults appeared and disappeared quickly along the beach leaving the seven nearly fully grown young at the temporary den. Over the next 90 minutes I was in for a real treat as several young would appear at once to explore their surroundings, giving a reasonable amount of photo opportunities at close range. This included some play fighting to hone their future hunting skills on the estuary mud and seaweed and a fixation with a reinforcing bar sticking out of the rocks which provided them with some climbing practice.