The Cycle of Life
by Simon Knight
I am starting my diary series with one of my most memorable mornings spent in the park.
I rank this little encounter right up there with seeing wasp spiders mating last year, where the female killed the male immediately after. Please understand that I don’t enjoy the death side of nature, but it’s what happens, it’s the natural world and I feel privileged to witness these moments that we don’t often get to see.
I had been drawn to the area of this encounter by a squirrel that was kindly posing for me on the trunk of an oak. Whilst I fired off a few shots, I noticed movement on the ground. I looked down to see a mouse walking along a fallen branch, only a couple of feet away from me. As I was cursing myself for not adopting a lower position to photograph the squirrel (which would have positioned me better for the mouse) the tiny head of a weasel popped up from behind the branch.
I couldn’t believe it! I had never been so close to a weasel, and this was only my second ever sighting of one. Obviously the shock of seeing me was enough to scare it off, but I was ready to wait it out in case it appeared again. I froze on the spot for fear of causing any more disturbance, desperate to get another look at this tiny predator. I watched for signs of movement amongst the young nettles, ivy and dead oak leaves. Suddenly, off to my left by only a few feet, movement. The nettles moved and then in a small clear patch, a brown furry streak disappeared into the ground. It must have been the mouse. Within a few seconds, that thought was proven incorrect as the weasel popped its head out of the hole like a submarine periscope checking to see if the area is clear. I took a picture. The weasel disappeared into the hole again.
I couldn’t believe that I had got a picture of this frantic little creature, but I figured that I had just had my one and only opportunity at getting a shot of it. Wrong again. It came back out, this time carrying a dead mouse! It carried the mouse off to my right and disappeared under a log, and that was the encounter over. Luckily, I was able to get some more shots. I was now on such a high and I just couldn’t believe my luck!
Weasels are so small that they can fit into the burrows of their small rodent prey, in this case, probably the mouse that I had originally seen. The mouse didn’t seem in too much of a hurry, so I think the weasel may have been following the scent of the mouse, which led it to the mouse’s burrow. And considering that the weasel is perfectly capable of taking down a rabbit, a mouse would be easy picking.
It was now time to head home for breakfast, but there was another exciting wildlife encounter to come before I left the park, which I will tell you about next time!
I can almost feel your excitement, thank you for bringing us these great pictures! I hadn’t realised just how small a weasel is until seen compared to a mouse. Every day we see just why the park is now considered a nature reserve!
Brilliant photographs Simon! This weasel, or one of its forebears, took a long tailed tit’s nest from the bramble bushes just around the corner a couple of years ago. It must be ideal weasel territory, full of small mammals and bird’s nests.
Thank you for sharing this encounter
Astounding that something so ferocious can look so damned CUTE. Excellent pictures.
Some great shots there Simon well spotted
Wonderful photographs, very rare to get shots of this elusive creature.
I think we are privileged to have another talented photographer adopting the Country Park Nature Reserve as his studio. I am looking forward to many more tales of the wildwood.
Thank you all for your lovely comments, it means a great deal. I am excited to bring you stories and pictures from the park and I am especially looking forward to when the park’s insects make their return, especially the stunning wasp spider. If my ideas for the wasp spiders work, I should have something special. Stay tuned!
Well done Simon! Fantastic pictures