Country Corner - A stoatin’ wee visitor to the tree nest box

editorial image

A cheeky stoat in a tree top nest box! writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

I had sited a camera to watch the box when I noted a tawny owl nearby in late winter.

The plan was to leave the camera all summer to avoid disturbing any owls which might move in.

However, as the weeks passed, there were no further signs or sounds of owls and it became obvious the box was not in use.

Retrieving the camera I was able to scroll through a whole cast of visitors to the box over recent months.

Jackdaws had certainly been the most interested potential tenants.

A single one, probably the male, had hung made frequent inspections and finally talked his mate into having a look. She shared his interest but, as is so often the case with house hunting couples, something just wasn't quite to her liking!

Other visitors included blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, and tree sparrows. However, the only two species which had actually entered the box were wren and woodmouse.

Of course with regular visits from a predator such as the stoat, there is very little chance of anything actually nesting in the box.

The stoat’s long, low-slung body makes them particularly well adapted for hunting, typically rats and rabbits.

They can be identified by their orangey-brown back, creamy white throat and belly.

Maybe next year I may get luckier with the next box?

By then the box and camera will be in a different tree, as the current old pine is well past its best.

Of course, the move will be made next winter, outwith the nesting season.

Maybe a young owl will find it desirable as a winter shelter?

If so, there may just be hope of it staying to breed.

Hopefully, there won't be a young stoat with the same idea!