Carrying an acorn in its mouth
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
This 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.
We 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.
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.
You can find my photography blog Photomania here