Indeed the high winds and unsecured headgear were suitable for a bit of curling:
Either that or Inuit spear fishing..
Regardless of the fox we had a great success last weekend with our long term mink issue having not caught any since last February. We use the 'GCT mink raft' design which rely on the natural inquisitiveness of the animals to investigate holes to lure them into a live capture trap. Baiting has never been successful and we have tried many types over the years. Mink are predators rather than scavengers and therefore don't seem to be attracted to carrion (even though they do live on their own cached stores of dismembered prey in their home range of North America during winter). We reckon the mink at Tophill had become trap shy - having possibly escaped in the past from a trap / or just had been selectively bred through our persecution to be naturally wary. In the end we utilised some used pet rodent bedding and droppings pushed into each trap - the strong smell of potential prey was seemingly irresistible and the next day we caught a female.
Removing a wild animal that is just trying to make an honest living (here due to human stupidity in the first place) is never a nice job. However this animal was heavily scarred on the back of the neck from mating - and not recently so quite likely is an experienced breeder from last year. As catches go this is top drawer, and at this time of year the hundreds of native birds and mammals this has saved this summer is undeniable. And predictably the very next morning the male was caught in the same trap. Our experiences are that mink tend to sit on a territory during summer so re-colonising is unlikely until this years young strike out in autumn. Potentially this may have had as big an impact as the fox fence this year. So a good start to spring (unless you're a mink).
Hopefully these guys may stand a chance for the first time in a while - Neil Murray:
Monday 19th - open as normal
Tuesday - upper half of car park being surfaced - lower open as normal
Wednesday - Lower half of car park being surfaced - expect disruption to parking
Thursday - Open as normal
Friday - White lining - expect disruption to parking
Also - New Membership permits; I very much hope from Saturday the 24th.
A few more wintering specialities - brambling at the feeders still - Roy Lyon: