September 18th   Leave a comment

This week has seen a big change. There were hundreds of swallows around Crail last weekend but they almost totally disappeared on Wednesday. On both Wednesday and Thursday morning there were flocks going over Crail as if they were in a hurry. Today I didn’t see a single one. Everything else has moved on as well. I found a flock of blue tits, great tits and goldcrests with just three willow warblers in it, working their way along the sycamores at the airfield, but no other migrants.

Even so, I optimistically checked out the Patch for yellow-browed warblers that have started appearing on the May this week. I got excited by a snatch of call but when I tracked the bird down it was only a couple of birders using playback. I couldn’t complain having just tried to call one up myself a few minutes before. It turned out the birders had heard my playback and they were trying to make my calling bird appear for them. All a bit circular. It was a good job we tracked each other down or we would have both erroneously reported in a yellow-browed warbler today. I am usually very careful not to use playback when there are other people around to avoid this, even though I find that most birders, surprisingly, don’t actually notice calls that much.

As I cycled up the hill through the golf course I saw a little bounding shape working its way along the stone dyke by the side of the wall: a weasel. It was searching between the stones for mice, voles or shrews in that characteristic way they have of sudden lightning like runs and bounds interspersed with a frozen upright stare around them. They have that real predator machine look about them shared by sparrowhawks. Constantly alert for movement and ready to shift mercilessly from immobility into a lightning lunge at anything they encounter. Weasels must be a bit short sighted – or just don’t care – because you can always approach them. I got within a few meters of this one, helped by me squeaking like a mouse so that it actually approached me. I have had stoats even crawling onto my boots in this way. So much attitude and confidence in such a small animal. I am still smiling about it although I suspect if I was a mouse I would be less cheerful about the encounter.

This is actually a stoat but without seeing the tail it is hard to tell: this gives more than a flavour of my weasel sighting

The stock stoat picture I use to show what a weasel looks like – John hasn’t got a weasel photo, but as I have pointed out before if you can’t see the tail and can’t judge the size as here it might as well be a weasel

Posted September 19, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

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