For the second day in a row, I have actually managed to do a short walk in the woods. It’s confused the dog a bit as Hubby walks on in one direction and I turn back to the car. She hates it when we separate.
The other day I stayed in the car and watched the birds . Today when I got back to the car to wait for Hubby and the dog to return, there were very few birds for me to watch. A lone blue tit was pecking away at the mossy tendrils on the tree bark, and four crows flew diagonally across my vision into the fields behind and to my left.
There were some horses in the field opposite the lay-by though, so I watched them for a while as they munched the hay and stood in their coloured jackets waiting for the grooms to collect them for their exercise of the day.
Traffic was also quiet, and I saw a weasel run across the road about 30 feet in front of me. They don’t half shift!
But then I wondered if it was a weasel or something else and thought I’d look it up when I got home.
I have some very good reference books on wildlife in our bookshelf. They’re pretty dated, the one I’m looking at now was published in 1987, but they are still informative and tell me what I want to know.
So, I can now let you know that it wasn’t a weasel I saw today, but a stoat.
Weasels are Britain’s smallest carnivores, and they are also one of the most numerous. Apart from books and nature programmes, I had never actually seen one until we moved here. Neither had I seen a stoat, which is larger and distinguished by its black tail tip.
Both are brilliant hunters, their prey including rats, mice and voles though stoats have been known to kill larger prey such as rabbits (very nasty teeth biting into the neck) .
My book also had a little about mink, polecats and ferrets, and that nudged another memory from a few years ago.
When Hubby was helping a friend with pest control, the pair would go out with their rifles and the rabbits brought back for the pot or pies .
On one occasion, his friend was keen to use ferrets. The thing was, his wife not only wouldn’t let him take the shot rabbits home (which is why I ended up making the pies), but there was no way she was going to let him keep ferrets. So he asked us. Or rather me.
I said No and he was a bit surprised as he knew what an animal lover I was.
I told him it wasn’t that so much, it was just that unlike dogs, I had absolutely no experience with or knowledge of, ferrets, apart from the fact that they bite, and it hurts! (The late TV presenter Richard Whiteley was famously bitten live on air by a ferret, whose owner said it didn’t hurt, though he was in absolute agony as the animal continued to hold on) .
I don’t know what happened to hubby’s friend or the ferrets after that as he and his family moved away and we haven’t heard anything since. I often wonder if it was something I said.