IT IS LIKE something out of a horror movie, a long drawn out scream that breaks the still January night air.

It is so sudden and so ghoulish that it’s enough to send shivers down the spine; a shriek that spins the mind into hallucinatory overdrive. What kind of hideous creature is out there in the dark void?

And there it goes again. It is almost as if someone is being strangled, a piercing scream with a husky hoarseness towards it faltering end.

But this is no beast or brutal murder scene, it is fox mating season and in vulpine-speak this is a vixen saying to a dog fox, ‘come and get me, I’m ready to mate’.

Dog foxes also scream and have a range of other vocalisations, making this an incredibly noisy time in the fox calendar as the males and females communicate with each other.

The vixen is only receptive to mate for a few days each year and there is no room for error; miss the copulating opportunity, then there will be another year to wait.

But with most vixens pregnant by early February, the Wee County night air soon falls silent again and a new generation of foxes is on its way.

I glimpsed a scurrying weasel last week down by the River Devon, the first one I’ve seen in a while.

They are such elusive creatures but are probably more common than we realise as they spend most of their time under the cover of grass and other thick vegetation.

The weasel is a specialist vole hunter with its slender body enabling it to pursue its quarry down burrows and along runs.

One can only imagine the terror invoked in a vole when it realises a weasel has entered its burrow, for its chances of escape are remote.