Death at Fox Hollow.

21st November 2011: It has rained for most of the day; I am not complaining, the marsh needs the water. We all need the water. The marsh animals don’t mind being out in the rain, and neither do I.

I might be wrong about a fox was using the old badger sett I mentioned in an earlier post; it, being used by at least one badger, as my remote camera reveals. I had noticed fox paw prints around the sett and figured a fox might be using it; I guess I could be mistaken. However, foxes have been known to share setts with badgers; they don’t live together in the same living chambers, though – they use redundant or vacant chambers. Badgers are very tolerant animals, but there must be mutual benefits to justify two different types of carnivore living in such close proximity. Maybe the foxes pay rent, in the form of free meals for the badgers.  I moved my remote to a faint badger track leading to the sett, just identify the animals using it.

I read a blog post this morning by the Badger Watching Man He talks about his difficulty in getting out of his warm armchair to watch badgers on cold, dark, and sometimes rainy winter evenings. I totally sympathise, I will shortly climb from my comfortable reclining chair to tend to my remote camera down on the marsh.

I am now back at home relaxing on my recliner again. It wasn’t so bad out on the marsh this evening. I didn’t mind the rain and there was enough light to see where I was going. It was very humid, though; my glasses kept steaming up. There were only two images on my remote camera memory card: a steaming jungle type of an image, and another showing mostly infra-red reflected glare. You can’t win all the time. I use Scoutguardsg550 remote cameras These cameras are really good, and very reliable. I have lost the date and time function on my oldest Scoutguardsg550, after it fell from a great height, but it works well enough apart from this. It takes colour stills and videos, and black and white stills and videos when operating in infra-red night vision mode. A set of 8 AA batteries last for more than a year. The camera is very compact and fits easily in a jacket pocket. With the camera in my pocket, it is easy to put it to work when I encounter little mysteries around the marsh. The main problem is remembering where I last positioned a camera; it’s easy to forget, as I have found out on several occasions. When using more than one remote camera at a time, I sometimes waste too much time looking for them, particularly in the dark.

On Saturday evening, I was at the extreme southern end of Hoo Wood, looking down into Fox Hollow with my night scope. I heard a muffled noise from somewhere close to my feet. All of a sudden, a squealing rabbit shot out from a hole in the bank. A second or two later, a light coloured streak rocketed out of the same hole, chasing after the rabbit. The  light coloured animal was a weasel, and was tiny compared with the rabbit.

My night-scope shows a black-and-white image, and it has five-times magnification, so keeping track of the goings-on was not always an easy task. The rabbit zigzagged with the weasel close on its tail and turned through 180 degrees. It began a series of high bunny hops, before it tripped and fell. The weasel wasted no time and was on the rabbit in a flash, expertly and viciously sinking small, sharp teeth into its neck. There was immediate somersaulting, high hopping and tight turning tactics used by the rabbit in its attempt to break the weasel’s grip. Sometimes the tactics worked, and the weasel found itself launched into the air. Each time this happened the rabbit made a break for freedom. The weasel, having none of it, launched itself at the rabbit again and again, determined not to let its prey escape. They twisted, rolled and danced in an embraced of death. The weasel’s body was relaxed and floppy, but its jaws remained tightly clamped on the rabbit’s throat.

The weasel’s tactic was to maintain its bite at all cost. The rabbit flipped itself over one way, then another, screaming all the time. The weasel’s body slammed against the ground with each flip and somersault. Eventually, totally exhausted, the rabbit’s movements began to slow and the screaming gave way to a low whimper. In its last death throes, the rabbit accepted its fate. I could just make out the weasel’s head jerking as it deepened and tightened its bite into the rabbit’s throat. The rabbit’s back legs gave a final jerk, and the weasel finished the job by pulling, twisting and tearing into the rabbit’s windpipe. Having witnessing this rarely seen event, and the rabbit’s death, I took one last look and went on my way.

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10 Comments on “Death at Fox Hollow.

  1. I have just caught up and read all of your November posts Mike and enjoyed everyone one of them! Your images are a pleasure to view, you have captured the beauty of the Autumnal colours splendidly, not forgetting the Wildlife too!
    I reckon I would have moved on quicker than you did from the Weasel and Rabbit chase, what a sight to witness ‘nature in the raw’ though!

    • Thanks for your comment, Pam.

      Yes, the Autumnal colours have peaked now.

      The weasel and rabbit event was a real treat to watch.

      I have just this minute returned from the marsh. A mist came down around an hour ago and it just blotted everything out, apart from the stars and the street lights around Wilden Lane. There is a nip in the air, too. There might be ice on our cars tomorrow.

  2. How sad to witness the rabbit’s death – your description really brings the episode to life for me..

    Lovely images (oh, and I love your snowy image in your header).

    • Thanks, Victoria.

      What happened to the rabbit is not really sad. Wild animals need to eat, and don’t forget about all the animals that we kill for food. Wild animals killing each other is nature enabling survival of the fittest. However, that great big rabbit was far too much food for a tiny weasel; the fox will clean up.

  3. Good exciting post Mike. The rabbit being killed by the weasel story had me quaking in my wellie boots. I must say that I am intrigued by the remote cameras that you use. How easy is it to use them? Is it as simple as attaching it to a tree and switching it on, or is there a more complicated procedure to follow? What about the possibility of the camera being stole. I would l to get one, but not if it is a pain to set up, or if it is likely to be stolen. I have a feeling that I would worry about it being stolen. You seem to have had your cameras for a long time without having problems with them.

  4. Thanks, Dave.

    Good comment! I think I can best way to answer your question, is with a post on the subject of my remote cameras, and how I use them.

  5. I liked you weasel story too Mike. It is very graphic and I have seen weasels, ferrets and all sort take and kill rabbits on the farm.

    I have thought about the possibility of getting of camera trap too, but I don’t know much about them and, like Dave, I am concerned about it becoming someone else’s pride and joy without my permission. Also I wouldn’t want to buy one and then find that I’d bought something which doesn’t do what I wanted it to do. I have various things about the place that I have bought on a whim only to find that they don’t suit my purposes. I think I would like to be able to have portable eye that could record things that happen when I’m not around. I think I would also like to be able to put the camera somewhere and then forget about it, knowing that it was there snapping away and that sometime in the future I would have the excitement of seeing day and nighttime wildlife that I might not otherwise see. Also Christmas is just around the corner and now might be the right time to buy something like this.

  6. Great story about the weasel and the rabbit! That’s definitely worth getting outside in the rain for.
    I’ve never seen a weasel take a rabbit except on film, but it amazes me how something so small can manage it. I’d love to see it in real life (as bloodthirsty as that may sound). I guess I need to spend more time outdoors…

    All the best


    • Thanks BWM.

      Spending more time outdoors is highly recommended.

      You know what they say: ” Use it, or lose it!”

      To have watched the weasel and rabbit fight, you would have needed a powerful torch or a night scope. I seem to be finding more people up to no good than night time animals at the moment.

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