Mammals on the bank and in the trees
Some stunning photographs from local photographer
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A big Dog fox, stands 14 inches high and is some 3 1/2 feet long, including it's 16 inch brush / tail. The Vixen is slightly smaller. The triangular- shaped face, erect ears and elliptical eyes, give the fox it's cunning look. The fur on top is fiery brown, whilst the under belly is grey. They are widespread thought the catchment, becoming even more so in the urban areas, of Claudy and Drumahoe.
The native red squirrel, is becoming a rare site, but still a beautiful animal, with it's red coat, hairy ears and bushy tail. Some 12 inches long (including it's tail) it feeds predominately on the Acorns, Pine cones and Hazelnuts and as such are found where these foodstuffs are most prevelant.
Can be seen in Claudy Country Park, Postman's Red Berry Wood, The Oaks, the Bleech Green at Ardmore, the wood from Bessie's Dam down to Miltown and some other wooded area.
The American import, is slightly bigger than it's native cousin. It also is fiercely competitive over territory, and has killed off it's weaker cousin. Found in the same wooded areas at the Red you can expect to see either foraging on the ground on in the trees from September as they start to hoard food for the winter
The Otter is our largest wild mammal with a fully grown dog measuring about 4 ft long and weighing up to 30lbs. It's streamlined flexible body and long tapered tail, coupled to it's shorted sturdy legs with webbed feet, make for an excellent swimmer. The head is large and appears flat with large whiskers from each side. Brown in colour, it's not uncommon to have a flash of white on the underbelly. Otters are carnivores and will eat snails, frogs, insects but main prey seems to be Eels and other slow moving fishes. It will however tackle trout and Salmon given the chance, found throughout the river, and regularly seen swimming and splashing about at dusk.
The American Mink seems to have been "introduced" to the Faughan around the late 1970's. A male is about 24 inches long from tip of tail to snout. Black / brown fur with a small white tuft under the chin. The female is about half the size. It predominately feed on eggs of birds, both ground and tree nesting, there introduction also coincides with a dramatic decline in the local Moorhen population. Fiercly territorial and ever inquisitive, they will often be seen "stealing" the odd fish from the fisherman's bag.
The Irish Stoat, has typical long slender body with short legs and a medium-short tail with a black tip. Fur is reddish brown to ginger above and white to cream below. Mostly a nocturnal hunter, but well known for it's bloodthirstiness, it eats rabbits, rats, birds, eggs and the odd fish. Not so common as other mammal they are mostly found in the middle reaches of the catchment from Claudy to Ardmore
Resident birds of the River
Is resident and with us all year round, has the shape of a large Wren. It is brown with a white 'bib' and chestnut belly. It gets it's name form the action it takes, dipping in and out of the water to feed. It can be found, in those stony streams, where it will feed on the emerging flies and larvae.
With it's long black tail with white flash, upper parts are blue -grey and bright yellow under. It has a distinctive undulating flight, as it hops from rock to rock. Feeds on the insect life, emerging from the river in the spring and summer. Can be seen the entire length of the river.
The 'Grey Heron' is mostly grey, with some black details on the throat and head. It's beak is long and yellow, in flight it's neck is extended and the long legs trail behind. Can be seen all over, mostly standing still as it stalks the small minnows, fry and parr that are on the menu.
One one the most beautiful birds in the British Isles. With it's bright blue upper and orange under, red legs and white flashes in the cheeks. It's normally only seen as a neon blue streak as it flies by, unless you can find a perch it use to fish, and dive for the minnows and fry it feeds on.
The Mallard is the only Duck, which is commonly seen along the Faoughan. The drake is easily recognised with it's green head and white ring around its neck. In contrast the hen is a drab brown, but both have a blue flash in the wing. In spring time the ducks, can be seen along with their broad of ducklings, right along the river. Often swimming in single file, of flapping on the surface as they flee your approach.