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The Fotherdale Stoats: The Stoat Story So Far
This is the story of a family of stoats living in my garden in North Yorkshire.
An intensive five-year study into the secret world of stoats
I have been watching six generations of a remarkable stoat dynasty for five years now. I follow these little known mammals from the moment the kits are born inside their animal nests to their first experiences of winter snows, getting to know each one individually, giving names to most.
How the Fotherdale stoat story began
A chance sighting back in 2015 of a family of stoats playing in my garden sparked my growing obsession with these marvellous mustelids. Intrigued as they bounced in and out of long waving grasses, I set about watching them closely.
But the project turned from a passion to an obsession after I noticed a stoat bouncing on the cabbage netting on my vegetable patch. It’s behaviour was so impressive that I wondered if I was witnessing the fabled ‘stoat war dance’, in which stoats are said to mesmerise their prey by turning somersaults before delivering a deadly bite.
Behind the scenes: Stoat surveillance
Criss-crossed through the shrubbery in my 2-acre garden and the valley below is a complicated network of surveillance cameras. I have trained more than 60 cameras both inside and outside purpose-built stoat nests. These record every move the stoats living in my garden make. The footage is then relayed to a bank of monitors in my office, where I employ two full-time members of staff to sift through the best clips. This year I plan to share the highlights with you via my blog:
Building a ‘stoat city’ at Fotherdale
Stoats are elusive creatures. In order to keep the stoats in my garden, I turned it into a perfect habitat for stoats. This veritable ‘stoat city’ was divided into separate ‘suburbs’ made up of dry stone walls or old twisted logs in which nests and feeding chambers have been built. Each habitat is connected by tunnels made from plastic and terracotta drainage pipes.
The paintings inspired by my Fotherdale stoats
My stoat studies have inspired a new collection of paintings of stoats. Below are a few from the collection.
Stoat nest camera 2019: Follow the latest in my series of stoat camera stories here
Follow my nest cameras:
Apron and Oven Gloves
(Apron and Oven Gloves)
Buy the Oven Glove and the Apron as a set for just £36
Lap Tray with Cushion - Hare Today by Robert E Fuller
(Lap tray with Cushion)
Red Stag - Glass Work Top Saver by Robert E Fuller
(Glass Worktop Savers )