What happens when a swan meets a weasel?

A dramatic encounter between a young weasel and a curious swan has been captured on camera by an amateur photographer at a nature reserve in Scotland.

RSPB volunteer Billy Blair snapped the unlikely duo as they came face-to-face in front of a crowd of astounded onlookers at the wildlife charity’s Lochwinnoch reserve in Scotland’s west central lowlands.

He said: ‘The weasel popped out from under the bird feeders, and the swan spotted it and came over to have a look. They had a bit of a face off where the swan would peck at the weasel, and the weasel would dart out of the way. Then, when the swan got bored and wandered off, the weasel actually chased after him, which is pretty brave considering their size difference!’

It is the second time this year that a weasel/bird encounter has hit the headlines; back in March a weasel was photographed hitching a ride aboard a green woodpecker by photographer Martin Le May, making the international press and inspiring a series of ‘#weaselpecker’ memes on Twitter.

Weasels are small predatory mammals that belong to the same family as stoats, ferrets, otters and badgers.

The whooper (pronounced hooper) swan is known to locals as Whoopie and has lived at Lochwinnoch since damaging his wing several years ago. Whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus) are large swans with distinctive black and yellow bills, which winter in Britain and migrate to Iceland to breed each summer. Since his injury however, Whoopie has been unable to join the annual migration, and so can be seen at the reserve all year round.

RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch Reserve Manager, Zul Bhatia, commented: ‘We see all sorts of things outside our visitor centre, but this encounter was a first for me. Everyone who witnessed it was pretty amazed, and it just proves that you never know what you’ll see when you observe nature.’

RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch is one of over 200 nature reserves managed by the RSPB in the UK and is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). To find a site near you visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves