Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mink Encounter

With a dry sunny morning but a 20mph stiff northerly there was no chance of a ringing session at our exposed ringing sites. 

I set off for the usual birding spots with the car heater turned to ‘max’ and four layers on top. Summer had turned to autumn with a vengeance. 

Braides was first stop where an unplanned pool appeared during summer rains after the farmer’s levelling went awry. Fifty-five Curlews were dotted around the margins of long grass with a couple of Swallows hawking for early insects. Along the track in the distance I saw 3 Little Egrets and a single Grey Heron. 

I pulled in at the lay by at Conder Green and almost immediately heard Green Sandpipers – in the plural. In fact there were four together in the creek and not the more usual, a single one on the pool margins or a dark, almost black, white-rumped bird flying fast and furious. The morning was already becoming a reprise of a visit here 9 days ago when I saw two, possibly three ‘green sands’. 

The sandpipers were very skittish, a trade mark behaviour of the species. Within a minute or two they had flown noisily around the creek out of sight. They took a feeding Common Sandpiper along too.  

Green Sandpiper

I stood quietly at the viewing screen hoping that something would come close. A Kingfisher flew up to the top of the marker post, now a favourite spot with water of the preferred depth for fishing. It didn’t linger more than a minute when something spooked the 150+ Lapwings dotted around the islands.  In turn the Lapwings spooked the Kingfisher.


The early hour saw many hirundines feeding in the shelter of the hawthorns; approximately 120 Sand Martin, 30 Swallow and 15 House Martins. Pied Wagtails fed on the early insects too with 20/30 dotted around but highly mobile. 

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a sizeable animal moving around the base of the platform and below the screen. First thoughts were of the most likely, a rat or a ferret but as the animal turned, stopped and stared up at motionless me I realised it was a mink, just a yard or two from my feet. Damn, it was too close for a picture from a 600 lens so I borrowed a pic from Wiki. 

Mink - Wiki

The animal slipped away into the hedgerow that borders the site and I didn’t see it again. I’d never been so close to a mink before but saw now that they are of a similar size to a ferret or polecat. Smaller than an otter and of an overall nondescript brown colour except for a softer, paler face. 

After that encounter everything seemed an anti-climax, but for the record books; 2 Little Egret, 15 Redshank, 12 Curlew, 8 Tufted Duck, 6 Little Grebe. 

Two weeks of bad weather has meant no ringing, but there’s a session pencilled in for Monday at Oakenclough.  Log in Monday evening to see Another Bird Blog’s next encounter.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog and Anni in Texas.



eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,

I would love to see the Curlews. The lapwing and Kingfisher are beautiful birds. It was cool you were able to see the Mink, they are cute critters. Great collection of photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, have a happy weekend!

Mae Travels said...

Those little animals like minks are really hard to see, and it's always frustrating when a really good shot isn't possible because the lens is too long. For wildlife walks, I have been using a "superzoom" camera with the full range, but the far-distance photos aren't quite as high quality. Lately, we don't have any real opportunities, though.

be well... mae at

Elkes Lebensglück said...

How nice to see the animals with you again and they are great photos, how cute the little kingfisher or the mink, real little cheeky badger!
Have a nice weekend, Elke

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How neat to see the Mink...they are so beautiful. And I hope you have good weather to get outside. We hiked yesterday in the heat! I can only stay home for so long! Love the Kingfisher too.

Anu said...

Hello Phil. Great sightings and great photos.
Take care.

Martha@SeasideSimplicity said...

Such beautiful little critters!

RedPat said...

Very cool to spot the mink! I do like your Kingfishers!

italiafinlandia said...

It is always a treat to meet rarities...
Well done!

Jean said...

The kingfisher is a pretty bird. How exciting to have a close encounter with a mink. Hope you get better weather for your Monday!

Mike Attwood said...

Hi Phil, Some more good shots I see. The last time I saw a mink it had just killed a water vole. So they are not rated very highly on my list. Stay safe. Mike

Angie said...

Phil - you know I love your birds, but I would have to agree that the mink is pretty special, even if it is not your picture! Joining you from Saturday's Critters.

Anni said...

I'd no doubt be trickling down my leg seeing a mink in the wild. What species of birds you DID see are amazing...that kingfisher is beautiful, isn't it? Hooe the weather improves for both of us. Wind & storms in the UK and hurricanes & oppressive heat in Texas.
thank you for sharing & linking in this weeK at IRBB Phil

Rhodesia said...

Wow, I would never have known it was a mink, lucky you, very special and something quite different. Take care Diane

Lowcarb team member said...

What a great collection of photographs ... and amazing to see a mink.

Happy September Wishes.

All the best Jan

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