stoat at strumpshaw fen

A rare glimpse of a beautiful stoat. (Photo courtesy of Nature's Home reader David Brooker.)

With its weasel-like creamy white throat and low-slung body, it's not always easy to ID a stoat in the field. The giveaway is the black-tipped tail, but you'll need keen eyes to see it as this voracious mustelid bounds through the grass in search of its latest quarry.

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Though only 24–32cm in length, stoats can bring down prey as large as an adult rabbit and can be seen throughout the year and the length and breadth of the country. Though mating occurs in summer, delayed implantation of the fertilised egg means that the kits won't be born until spring.

Nature's Home reader David Brooker captured this stunning shot of this little-seen animal at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk. "She spent around 20 minutes scent marking while I sat on the ground watching," said David. "She came up really close for a few poses. It was amazing to watch."

A magical reserve in the Broads, in winter the Strumpshaw Fen is awash with visiting ducks and the resident bitterns are joined by visitors from the continent. Come spring, swallows and swifts will return, with other summer migrants such as grasshopper warblers, cuckoos and whitethroats, before the whole reserve explodes with the summer spectacular of butterflies.

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