Congratulations to Cynthia Crawford for winning the December 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Her photo of an American Stoat received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
For the second month in a row, a snowy-white mustelid has won the top slot of photo-observation of the month! This time, with the tail of the weasel visible in photographs, we can be fairly certain that this species is Mustela richardsonii, also known as the American Stoat or Short-tailed Weasel. Looking at the surroundings of this stoat, we can see a classic example of what’s known as a phenological mismatch. In this case, the diminished snow cover across much of Vermont this winter has rendered this species’ sparkling white camouflage nearly useless. With the amorphous white landscape of snow replaced at least for now by brown tangles of sticks and thickets, this weasel will have to be extra cautious to avoid predators and sneak up on its prey successfully.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!