Saturday, 1 December 2007

Autumnal Trees

Autumn is finally here in Staffordshire. The leaf fall is nearly complete and the sounds and smells of Autumn are all around. I always enjoy walking in the forest at this time of year, though this year is somewhat different. The days are quite warm at present and I have not yet needed to put my gloves on. So far I have only seen one frosty morning and it is now the end of November.
Rosie and I have just started our short term contract work with the Royal Mail. With a 6am start and a mid-day finish, there is time to walk in the daylight. This is such a joy after spending hours at a computer screen.

Whilst walking out by the river Trent, we saw a mink swimming by the waters edge. I thought it was an otter at first, having seen evidence of otters on a previous visit. When it broke surface it had a distinctly narrow head and the fine chocoate brown coat that is very distinctive of this rural invader.
A fellow photographer had been following the little devil for a couple of days and was able to show us photographs of the mink's kills. It had killed and eaten a number of large fish, stripping the flesh from the bone and leaving the ribs and backbone intact. Otters tend to crush bone and prefer smaller prey.
I was somewhat grieved that I had left my camera at home, relying on my mobile phone to take a few photographs. This little camera device is good, but very slow to engage. No chance of a photograph of such an active animal as the mink. No doubt it will be caught in one of the traps set to capture it before too long. Mink are a serious pest, being a very ferocious foreign species that causes damage to indiginous populations of animals.

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