Monday, 27 August 2012

Three's a crowd (but only for a short while!)

These dark tailed squirrels have visited our patio every day at Underscar for the last 14 days. I was so lucky to get a shot of the 3 all together.

They are kittens and look like miniature versions of their parents. Kittens begin to venture from the nest when they are ten week olds; they are learning to find food for themselves and spend a great deal of their time obsessively burying what they find.

It is good to see these three brothers and sisters staying close to one another. Anytime between 10 - 14 weeks of age they will move out into a new nest and begin to live alone; then they will hardly tolerate one another.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Two new wardrobes a year.

Red squirrels moult their ear tufts once a year - so at the moment there's a lot of bald ears. They will grow back within the next few weeks. They'll be sporting new tufts ready for winter.

They are moulting their tails now too - again they do that once a year. The body fur is moulted in Spring and Autumn. 

                                                                   Summer Coat

Here I am in camouflage clothing, tracking red squirrels.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Lowther Game Fair

Hereford Owl Rescue were at the Lowther Game Fair. They will rescue captive bred owls from anywhere in the UK. The rescue centre will look after 40 owls at a time and is owned by  Baroness Sasavon Barth und Kippenruer. 

I held three of these rescued owls at the Lowther Game Fair yesterday.

Although owls have always been a popular bird, the general public are found to have very little idea of their needs in terms of feeding, handling etc. Owls featuring in recent films have led to an increase in the number of people keeping them as pets, not always with very satisfactory results. Most of the birds at the centre can never be released into the wild, as they are captive bred and would not learn to hunt for themselves.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Tail Talk

Just about the most important signal post for a red squirrel is its tail. When subdued or snoozing its huge bushy tail is usually held over its back and head, umbrella style.

As it moves it is either held out behind the animal or used as a rudder when jumping onto walls or tree stumps.

Tail swishing - as sweeping side to side movement - generally means the squirrel is not quite sure of the situation.

Tail flagging or flicking can mean a number of things: if it feels disturbed it will flick its tail up and down. Tail flagging can be a sort of greeting or warning to other squirrels.

Dubworth Silver Meadows

Dubworth Silver Meadows is a wetland nature reserve where Bassenthwaite Lake once extended its waters. As we walked round creamy meadowsweet dominated to give a silver appearance. We were not lucky enough to catch a glimpse Roe Deer which inhabit the wooded areas of the site, but we will return soon either at dusk or early morning.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Black tail, blonde tail and the tail inbetween.

In 1781 a naturalist named Pennant described for the first time the bleached tails of red squirrels in summer coat (Sciurus vulgaris leucourus). 

We now recognize some 17 sub-species of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).  These sub-species are very similar to look at. However it is possible to spot some variation in colour. The Underscar squirrels, in August, can be seen with very different tail colourings.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Beautifully Bleached - August 2012

We are staying at Underscar, near Keswick. The red squirrel population at Underscar have an amazing habitat - all the food and shelter which they need to survive successfully. It is like a squirrel fest for me. 

On this visit I am intrigued by one of the squirrels which has a bleached tail. I believe that having a blonde tail means that they are from the British strand of red squirrels.