All change

Less than twenty four hours after abandoning the Chayne as a hopeless cause because of the weather, the hillsides have totally emptied themselves of snow. My first reaction on looking out of my bedroom window this morning over the green fields was that I shouldn’t have sprung my traps. Any significant change in the weather always sends vermin moving into different patches and along different runs in their territories, and the fact that I hadn’t caught anything in the snow might have meant that I could have caught something as soon as the snow vanished. Then again, it seemed sensible to spring the traps because I couldn’t be certain of checking them everyday, but nature always seems to throw up these frustrating dilemmas.

With hopes pinned on a single trap left set by the farmhouse so that the shepherd could keep an eye on it, I headed up to the Chayne this afternoon in the car, a feat I couldn’t have managed twenty four hours ago. As I had hoped, the trap had sprung.

Wikipedia informs me that the name given to a male weasel is a “jack”, and that was precisely what I had caught. The tiny beast had been grabbed around the neck by the Solway Mk. 4 Spring Trap, and it was satisfying to see that it had been taken out quickly and painlessly. It is the first weasel I have ever caught, and given that I have seen stoat and weasel tracks running together over the Chayne, it looks like it won’t be the last.

Along with stoats, weasels can be a real problem for songbirds and ground nesting birds, stealing eggs and taking chicks when they arrive in the spring time. The weasel I had caught was a stunning little beast, but I can’t afford to be sentimental when trying to preserve seriously endangered birds like black grouse.


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