Tuesday 4 January 2011

Stoat or Ermine

Some of the stoats on Islay go white in winter (qualifying for the name "ermine"), some partially, some completely, while others retain their normal plumage. Going white in Islay would normally increase the risk of predation one would have thought, but last winter and again last month, it could be seen to have been an advantage helping to conceal the stoat from its prey. Generally, most stoats in northern Britain, i.e. much of Scotland and northern England, go white in winter, wholly or partially, while in the southern half of England few if any do.
If anyone has seen a white stoat on Islay this winter or last, do please let us know at info@islaynaturalhistory.org. But beware confusion with the white form (actually creamy-yellow) of the introduced ferrets - which are anyway a good bit larger.
Photo: Dan Brown