Tuesday 2 February 2016

Pop goes the weasel

Chris Durdin, NWT Volunteer at Thorpe Marshes

Sometimes watching nature you need a bit of luck. The party on a winter guided walk at Thorpe Marshes was on the path by the River Yare when an alert group member noticed a mammal balanced at the very top of the dead stalks of greater willowherb. It was a weasel, but what was it doing there? Another movement caught our eyes –a mouse, also high in the wintry vegetation. We watched for only a minute or two but it seemed longer, time running slowly as the cat-and-mouse – well, weasel-and-mouse – game continued. Then the mouse dropped into the base of the vegetation and the weasel followed, and both disappeared from view. We presume it was an unhappy outcome for the mouse, but we don’t know.

Harvest mouse and weasel (photo by Derek Longe)

In the meantime, Derek Longe was taking photographs, and the picture captures the moment. Remarkably, as well as helping us to confirm that it was a weasel and not a stoat, by zooming in we discovered that it was stalking a harvest mouse. Two mammal species confirmed in the click of a shutter.

Bridge still shut: a reminder that the usual pedestrian entrance into the reserve over the railway bridge in Whitlingham Lane is shut for major repairs until the end of March. The way in on foot is along a muddy path from Bungalow Lane, farther east along Yarmouth Road, and that’s also true for guided walks.

Chris Durdin leads monthly wildlife walks at NWT Thorpe Marshes. Details of these and recent sightings on the reserve are on www.honeyguide.co.uk/thorpemarshes.htm. The website also has the 14-page NWT Thorpe Marshes Wildlife Report for 2015.

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