The dramatic moment a young weasel came face to face with a curious swan has been captured on camera by an RSPB Scotland volunteer at the wildlife charity's Lochwinnoch nature reserve.

Billy Blair snapped the picture right outside the reserve's visitor centre as the encounter played out in front of a surprised audience of staff and visitors.

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 dramatic 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!"

The whooper swan, which has acquired the nickname Whoopie locally, has been a resident of the area since injuring his wing some years ago. Whooper swans migrate to Britain for the winter from their breeding grounds in Iceland, flying back to breed there in the summer. Since his injury, however, Whoopie has been unable to join the yearly migration, and so can be seen at Lochwinnoch year-round.

RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch Reserve Manager, Zul Bhatia, said: "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."

The weasel is Britain's smallest carnivore, and belongs to the same family as the otter and the badger. This is not the first time a weasel encounter has hit the headlines; earlier this year a weasel was photographed on the back of a flying green woodpecker, making the international press, and sending Twitter into meltdown with a series of '#weaselpecker' internet memes.

RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch is one of the few remaining wetland sites in south and west Scotland, and is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). The reserve is easily accessible and can be reached by train in just 25 minutes from Glasgow city centre. Visitors are also encouraged to cycle to the reserve using National Cycle Route 7, while parking is available for those arriving by car.

For more information about the reserve and for details of future events, check out our website: