Regarding the probable Polecat – see photos etc below, posted by Andy Jayne on February 24th, the same animal was seen by Andrew Bluett and again photographed. A report with the photographs was sent to John Field, mammal recorder at GWT, his response follows:
“Thank you very much for the record, particularly the photographs. Your photos clearly show that your specimen was a true polecat and not a polecat-ferret hybrid. You are probably already aware that true polecats can/do interbreed with escaped domestic ferrets and as a result it can be hard to distinguish a polecat from a hybrid animal.
However, there are five pelage signs to look out for to be able to determine a true polecat from specimens with ‘ferrety’ characteristics:
Nose – In true Polecats the brown fur on the nose extends all the way down to the nose, this is very obviously the case with yours.
Face – True Polecats have pale cheek patches contrasting with the dark facial mask. Yours had the classic Polecat mask.
Throat – True polecats don’t have extensive throat patches or a white mink-like bib on the chin. No throat patch on yours, although it does have a pale (but not white) chin
Guard Hairs – True polecats don’t have white guard hairs. No white guard hairs visible with yours – there are a couple of white hairs visible however they’re just from scar tissue and not “guard hairs”
Paws – All four paws of a true polecat will have dark (almost black) fur. Polecat-ferrets often have a bit of white on one or more paws. Four dark paws clearly visible on your specimen
No ferrety characteristics at all, so I’m happy for yours to be recorded as a true polecat”
References: The Distribution & Status of the Polecat… http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-2795 – OR just put Polecat into your search engine…