Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Scouring for pads

Ring Ouzels; no, not an embarrasing medical condition but a bird very like our humble Blackbird. They winter in the Atlas mountains in North Africa and migrate to spend their summers here. Apparently, our area is one of their favourite destinations and, within that area, my beat is Numero Uno. (Imagine, flying over the Spanish Costas or French Riviera to come HERE.)
There's a chap who comes to monitor them throughout their breeding season and I met him the other day. He told me how he already had tabs on 40 nest sites on my beat and still had a heap of ground that he hadn't got to yet. Furthermore he told me that-touch wood-they had suffered zero predation. That has to be good news.
In my earlier blogs I promised that you'd be hearing lots of mention of foxes, stoats and 'hoodie' crows. Well I lied. And the reason is that there is hardly a sign of any of them.
Remember the fox that wouldn't bolt from the cairn that I wrote about on the 6th May? Since then I have been round all my cairns again, I have taken my terriers through all the peat holes that I can think of and I've done lots of early morning spying (that's 4am early, by the way) and I've seen nothing. Furthermore, I haven't come across a single pad mark or kill. I'm starting to think that Elvis has left the building.
Nor have I seen a hoodie for about 6 weeks and I've seen 1 stoat in months. And he didn't survive the encounter.
Dont get me wrong, it's not that they have been wiped out, just that their numbers have been suppressed enough to minimise their impact. And their numbers would bounce back very quickly if we were to let up on our controls. So it's business as usual but with a little more time for all those other jobs that are waiting in the wings.
Fencing tomorrow. Touche!


  1. Do you think some of the foxes and stoats perished in the harsh winter or are they tougher than that?

  2. Good question. I can assure you that all the foxes that we shot while the snow was here were in the peak of condition. They always, always are!
    The stoats we caught up with seemed in just as good order. If anything, they might have had it easier with the rabbits weakened by hunger. You can also imagine them getting cozied down deep underground in the worst of the weather.