For this post I want to wind you back to the summer and a short morning session when I tried to photograph some stoats. It had been four years since I last tried to photograph these mini predators and a session with them was long overdue. I love photographing stoats but they are very tricky to photograph, partly due to the fact that they move so quickly and rarely pause which is further compounded by the rocky terrain where I photograph them.
It's really a case of now you see a stoat and an instant later you don't as it disappears behind a boulder. A real game of hide and seek between the stoats and photographer.
For photographing the stoats you have a very small window of opportunity of around 2 to 3 weeks, as the easiest time is generally when the young are just fully grown and about to disperse away from the adults. At these times the adults will leave the young playing in a group while they go off hunting. However, trying to predict exactly when that 'photography window' will occur is difficult to predict with certainty and the vagaries of the British climate can have a direct impact on the optimum time to visit. Unfortunately not only was my visit this year mis-timed, but it also coincided with a morning of poor light and frequent heavy showers. Ideally you need good light and fast shutter speeds are normally the order of the day with these very fast animals. This particular morning was going to need high ISO and a wide open lens to try and make the most of the poor light available. The sun only made a brief and very temporary appearance.
It took me about an hour of searching to find the stoats and when I found them it was two adults actively hunting. During the morning I only caught one brief glimpse of one of the kits and they stayed underground in one of the temporary dens throughout the session. The adults were moving fast and covering a lot of ground in their search for prey along the foreshore. They certainly kept me busy as I tried to get ahead of them and let them come to and past me as they rapidly weaved their way through the large boulders.
It was a slight frustrating morning as I would get a glimpse of a stoat and it would then disappear behind a rock just as I manage to get the camera trained on it. Every photograph was hard won and I was pleased to get a few. Such a real pleasure to be in the company of these beautiful animals for about an hour and watch them go about their lives.
Eventually the two adult stoats went to ground as the weather deteriorated and I decided to bring the session to a close. Hopefully I can catch up with them again next summer with an improvement in my timing and the light.