Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Mustelid Contingent


Water vole
Adult rat - the relative sizes

It was a surprise to pick up this stoat on the trail cam. This makes the fourth mustelid I've seen in the field (if you count finding otter spraint as a 'sighting'). I've also seen weasels and a polecat here. All these predators will eat water voles, but because they're native and in the balance, vole numbers stay buoyant. The worry is if mink invade, because they are non-native carnivores and can wipe out whole colonies of water voles in a matter of weeks.


WendyB said...

These last 4 weeks or so I've not been getting to the ditch here in Cambridge quite so often, but when I have made it there water vole sightings have been few and far between - whereas from March to June multiple sightings could be almost guaranteed every time.

Yesterday I waited at two of the usual places for sightings, including well over 30 mins at one of them, with no luck - not a ripple - nor a twitch of vegetation.... It didn't feel right. Do hope that there is nothing amiss.

There was a duck with 8 ducklings on Wednesday, down to 7 yesterday. Other broods have rapidly dwindled in numbers in recent weeks - and in one case the mother vanished but 2 of the brood survived and are now almost adults.

A juvenile pike is known to be in there. And sometimes there are piles of duck feathers in the grass which makes me think fox or hawk... mink anywhere would be a disaster.

Kate said...

If there are ducklings at the moment, there are unlikely to be mink. I wouldn't panic.