Observation of the Week, 1/5/16

This Vole-toting Stoat seen by redfaux in Routt County, Colorado is our Observation of the Week.

The Stoat (Mustela erminea), or Short-tailed Weasel, is a secretive predator and not often seen in the wild, but Austin, Texas residents Heather Valey (redfaux on iNaturalist) and her husband Daniel were able to capture the above image when visiting Heather’s father in Clark, Colorado this past December.

While enjoying a morning cup of coffee, her father said "Hey look there's the weasel!" and pointed out the window. “The weasel,” she explains, is her father’s nickname for the Stoat had been making a daily appearance around his home. This day, however, it had a fresh kill in its mouth (which iNaturalist users have identified as a Vole), so Daniel grabbed the camera and began firing away from the front deck. “It looked at first like the Stoat was just going to stay obscured in some brush with his kill,” says Heather, “but much to our surprise he ran out in the open and posed for us with the vole for a few seconds. To ask a Stoat to stand still for that long is asking a lot...so we were lucky.” They ended up with a wonderful photo of winter wildlife, and one of our most popular Observations of the Day posts ever!

Heather says she had always been raised to appreciate nature, but it was on a photo tour of the Galapagos Islands last spring (see photo above) where she truly “caught the wildlife photography and observing nature bug. Ever since that trip I have to get out a couple times a week with the camera and do a nature walk...even if sometimes all I have with me is the iPhone.”

On a trip to the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve last June, Heather saw a posting about iNaturalist and the park’s Wild Basin Biodiversity project. She calls it “a nature journal in your pocket at all times,” and now when she goes out on nature walks, Heather says iNaturalist “makes me think about what I’m observing...it has also encouraged me to be curious of my surroundings in nature and put some effort in trying to identify what it is I’m seeing.

“Lastly...it’s a fun app!”

by Tony Iwane


Read Heather’s blog post about discovering iNaturalist.

Check out Heather’s photos on Flickr.


Top photo: Daniel Valey

Bottom photo: Heather Valey

Posted by tiwane tiwane, January 06, 2016 07:14

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