Driving to work this morning across Dartmoor I spotted something small,dark and moving on the road ahead of me. It was just at a point where the road runs between two stone walls, between two stretches of open moorland.
At first I couldn’t make out what it was – too dark for a badger, maybe a fox cub? Then, as I got nearer, it split up into …. a pack of stoats. They quickly scattered and then rushed across the road, in a single, undulating line, before disappearing into the undergrowth. I’d come to a stop by then and counted seven of them! The last one seemed unsure whether to stay where it was or to follow the others – surely you can’t have a nervous stoat? Then it made it’s mind up and rushed after the others.
Interestingly, when I looked back the final stoat was heading back where it came from. Could it be a parent going back to fetch yet more of the litter? A stoat litter can contain between 5 and 15 kits, so it’s possible. They all looked the same size so would have to be quite mature kits.
Needless to say there was no chance of photographing them, but this picture from itsnature.org will give you an idea what they look like.