Red is so much more interesting than Grey!

Carrying an acorn in its mouth

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Saturday 1401  – 23.09.2013.

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Sorry this is a bit late but I’ve been on holiday ( what, again !!! ) in Dorset and I’m just back.

Love the way it hangs on with its feet

_1329This Saturday was spent, with my daughter Katy, in nature heaven on the National Trust Island of Brownsea. The island sits in Poole Harbour on the English South Coast and is known for its red squirrel population.

For my visitors from overseas the red squirrel is a rare creature in Britain but particularly so in England. The decimation of the red squirrel, which is indigenous to Britain, was caused by the introduction of the grey squirrel from America in the late 1800s. The grey squirrel might look the same but it’s larger and it’s feeding habits are different. It eat unripe acorns leaving few for the red squirrel which is only able to eat ripe ones.

The grey variety also carries a virus, the squirrel parapoxvirus, which it seems to be unaffected by but which will often kill the red squirrel.

The upshot of this is that it’s quite difficult to see them in England but on Brownsea there are no grey squirrels so the red is protected.  You cannot access the island before 10 a.m but we eagerly arrived on the first ferry and made our way to an area behind the church, a little off the beaten track, and were lucky to spot a red squirrel almost immediately high up in a tree and we were hooked.

newWe ended up spending much of the rest of the day lying or sitting on an autumn-leafy ground watching for the squirrels to come down to the forest floor to pick up mostly acorns..

We were richly rewarded for our patience and so enjoyed watching the squirrels race around overhead and up and down tree trunks and believe me they hardly stay still for a moment…

As I have said before I think nature is a great stress buster and for me is an essential antidote to my job as a social worker and my life as a social commentator and campaigner for justice. 

The photos you see here are my best shots of this illusive creature, taken in very dull conditions under an oak canopy. Hardest thing I’ve ever tried to photograph but the most rewarding I think.. The photo at the top of this post is my favourite with the top 3 being of that same squirrel .. note the very different colouring and how much thinner the tail is on this other squirrel below.

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If you ever get a chance to visit Brownsea island Autumn is by far the best time when the squirrels, of which there are about 200 on the island, are busy gathering nuts to store for the winter.

I enjoyed sharing our day of blissful happiness with you, thanks for letting me 🙂

Saturday girl signing off, see you very soon.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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14 comments on “Red is so much more interesting than Grey!

  1. Beautiful….Love’em..Would you believe I saw a red squirrel in a west midlands park earlier this year?
    And I do my bit to get back at the American invader…….
    A local butcher does a roaring trade in grey squirrel meat…A bit like a cross between duck and lamb. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but about as ethical and free range as you can get.
    🙂

    • Helen Cherry says:

      My daughter has had grey squirrel meat too and said it was lovely ! When I lived in Ireland I had one in the fields behind my house so often saw it, until I found it half eaten in my utility room courtesy of the big black cat I owned then… grrrrrrr

  2. These are so delightful. I saw one once in Scotland but it moved before I could photograph it. I was surprised at how red it was.

  3. Beautiful – shame they are so rare!

  4. scillagrace says:

    We do have the occasional red squirrel on this side of the pond, too. They prefer the evergreens to the oaks, and maybe that’s because the others eat them before they get ripe. Beautiful illustrations of their coats, especially that first one. But your third is so Beatrix Potter – just like Squirrel Nutkin!

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