I wonder what is going on in the world of stoats at the moment? Every moor and farm has a different annual pattern of stoat and weasel behaviour, so it is impossible to predict what will happen and when. It seems like you just need to set the traps and learn from what happens.
So far this year, I have caught a huge number of weasels and a small handful of stoats. The weasels were mainly concentrated in late March, when the same few traps caught day after day for two weeks before falling silent almost overnight. Stoats have appeared here and there since I began trapping in December, but the last few days have seen a significant increase in stoat activity.
It is clear that the stoats are coming in from the neighbouring property to the East. With one exception, I have now caught five stoats in a row from the same trap, which runs off the neighbour’s ground and directly into one of the windbreaks above the farmhouse. Since the neighbours are showing rising numbers of rabbits this year, it only makes sense that stoats should be concentrated around the bunnies and are dispersing onto the Chayne for breeding, and I wonder if the monster stoat I caught last month was acting as a plug in the gap.
When he was alive, he might well have been blocking lesser stoats from using his territory and running up that dyke line onto the Chayne, but now that he has been booked, others are moving in. I will keep a close eye on how things progress over the next few days, but if I can brave the storm of incoming stoats, there will be an obvious advantage to birds and mammals on my patch.
I currently have a stoat living in my garden, and I have been feeding him up with rabbit liver in the hope that he will give me the chance for a photo. He seems to appear last thing at night, and peers in through my bedroom window. Given that my house is out in open farmland a few miles away from the Chayne, I don’t see that he does much more than kill rabbits, so he’s alright by me. Stoats really are without a doubt my favourite mammals, but I can’t afford to let them run riot amongst my birds up on the hill.