Oct 022017

25th: 1 ‘Greenland’ Wheatear on Langamull machair, 1 Hen Harrier across the burn, 1 Grey Wagtail at same place at Bennan (also seem there last autumn) and 1 Black-headed Gull at Calgary.

Graeme Hutchinson and Angie Craft set up a camera trap beside a Red Deer carcass near Port Haunn. They didn’t get any eagles visiting but this was better or at least more unusual. It is a Polecat or a Ferret or hybrid. I thought it would be relatively easy to identify from such good footage but some identification features don’t seem to be so straight forward. In this leaflet white paws are mentioned as a separation feature but this animal has all dark paws and so do many photos of Ferrets on the internet. I am not sure there is a pale throat patch on this animal but Graeme has a lot of footage and perhaps some will highlight this more clearly. A Polecat has a very small throat patch.
All in all I think this may be a Polecat-Ferret hybrid going by the facial pattern particularly the brown mask not reaching the nose but I’m trying to get an expert opinion.
This is a clip from the daytime on 25th but on the evening and night of the 24th they caught video of a pair on the carcass at the same time! Best to click on the cog icon in bottom right and chose highest definition,

This is footage from the night before at 8.35 showing two animals.

We have had other footage from Janet Crossman of a Polecat/Ferret at night-time in the gardens at Haunn on night of 13 Sept 2015 and Tony Gibson has also seen one at Haunn on 13 Aug 2014. Carolyne saw one in their garden, catch, kill and carry off a baby rabbit on 29th June this year but until now no one had got a daylight shot which would enable identification.
I once had a pair of Ferrets bred by a Mink farmer in Denmark and I had been told that they couldn’t survive in the wild which fits my experience of them. I suppose if they were lucky and escaped when there were plenty of prey items around like in a vole year on Mull they might manage it but they would have to learn quickly or die. Most female Ferrets also have to breed in their first cycle or they can die. But apparently some people breed Ferret/Polecat hybrids and presumably these can succeed in the wild. I have heard about a man who traps on the Ross of Mull and he says he has never caught a Polecat. I would love to be able to prove him wrong.
I did a bit more digging and found that Polecat/Ferret hybrids have been released and survive on the Argyll mainland around Mull, see 1999 DNA analysis here. Pure Polecats were also released in Argyll in the 1970s and there is a Mull record of a hybrid on this excellent 2016 report here (Mull record fits the location of the ‘man’ mentioned above).

24th: At least 3 Bramblings along shore at north end of Craignure golfcourse

with 30+ Redwings flying over and at least 2 Turnstones on sand island there.
1 Barnacle Goose below Ensay farmhouse and a Long-Tailed Tit flock between Penmore and Dervaig.

23rd: 8 Barnacle Geese flying west over Langamull, 1 Grey Wagtail at Bennan, 1 Hen Harrier and 1 ‘Greenland’ Wheatear between Langamull house and Bennan.

20th: 1 Brambling at Treshnish House, 3+ Long-tailed Tits at Treshnish boathouse

: 1 Brambling at Treshnish House

and 1 Barnacle Goose below Ensay burn (thanks Angie and Graeme for that)
3 Mountain Hares below Treshnish House

18th: 1 Brambling at Treshnish House

and 6 Whooper Swans at Treshnish lochan

17th: 12 Whooper Swans flying south at Caliach Point and c30 geese migrating south to far out to sea to identify,

15th: 610 Barnacle Geese flying south over Treshnish with another 140 too far away for id but probably also Barnacle Geese.
I was shown a photo of a Pale-belied Brent Goose taken today on Langamull beach.

14th: 574 geese (at least 40 were Barnacles) flying south at Treshnish Point and 1 Golden Plover at Haunn.

13th: 9 Long-tailed Tits in Treshnish wood

12th: woke up to sound of migrating geese, 1 Bullfinch at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse

: about 40 geese probably Barnacle Geese flying south and at least 2 Long-tailed Tits in Treshnish wood

: 2 skuas (not Greats) flying south around Caliach Point but very brief views (the second was possibly a Pomarine).

4th: 9+ Long-tailed Tits at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, 5 Black-headed Gulls at Langamull.
Woke up the sound of migrating geese [note to self: Learn geese calls prasad!!]

3rd: 1 Leach’s Petrel, 88 (15 + 4 + 11 + 6 + 3 + 20 + 20 + 9) Barnacle Geese, 6-11 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Red-throated Divers, 1 Great Skua, 3 Arctic Skuas flying south at Caliach Point

1 Great Northern Diver in Calgary Bay

: 13 +3 (+ another probable 6+) Pale-bellied Brent Geese flying west and then south around Caliach Point

also at Caliach Point: 2-3 Great Skuas, 1 Great Northern Diver and 10+ diver species.

1 Black-headed Gull at Calgary, 1 Grey Wagtail & Hen Harrier at Bennan.

1st: Long-tailed Tits heard in Treshnish wood

 October 2, 2017

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