Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Hide and seek with a red squirrel.

                                                       Woodland Walk Waterfall

The Castlerigg Underscar Apartment, situated close to the entrance of the beautiful woodland walk, gave me the welcome opportunity to observe the red squirrels in the conifer trees. Their acrobatics in the branches were as good to watch as any trapeze artist at a circus.
                                                  Entrance to the Woodland Walk

I left some hazelnuts in the nook of a conifer tree at the top of the woodland walk; within minutes the red squirrel had discovered them. Good eyesight and an excellent sense of smell enables it to find food quickly.

                                              Steps leading leading down to the stream

                                   Red squirrel making use of the steps to hunt for nuts.

                                                                     Found some

Then the magic began as I watched them spend time in the tree tops leaping from one branch to another, balanced to perfection. The squirrel holds its tail straight and behind during a long leap, it swings it from side to side as it hurries along a swaying branch. Sensitivity to touch is well developed with special hairs (vibrissae) on its feet and at the base of its tail as well as whiskers on the face.

As I continued to observe, this red squirrel seemed to favour a particular branch. I watched as it marked its regular routeway by face wiping. Wiping their faces on tree branches is in order to deposit a smelly secretion from a glandular lip plate as a sort of calling card. Probably the chief way squirrels recognise one another is by smell; and leaving your own personal smell about the place is a way of marking out your space, even though this space is not defended.

This squirrel then decided to observe me using the branches as cover, before moving down to the feeders. Once a nut was chosen, it settled on the wall, holding its tail behind it. The  hairs on its tail are over 8 cm long and have a parting down the middle. Good this squirrel is enjoying its nut so much as they are hopeless at remembering where they bury them.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


"Are all these photographs taken at Underscar?" is a question I am frequently asked by Underscar timeshare owners and staff. 

I take many photos of the red squirrels on the Underscar Estate, and produce cards and postcards, which are sold to raise funds to continue supplementary feeding of these beautiful little creatures. My photos are usually taken around Derwent and Grange Apartment patios. The red squirrels seem to appreciate the feeding stations here. The photos at Derwent are taken the first two weeks in August. The photos at Grange are taken in October. A change of photo shoot in November sees us at Castlerigg Apartment. Here the boundary wall is the backdrop for many shots.

Castlerigg  is the last lodge on the right and you
can see the boundary wall sloping down the hill.
Squirrel taken from Castlerigg in November.
This squirrel is displaying its winter ear tufts
    Another red squirrel moving along the boundary wall towards
the feeding station.

   Derwent Apartment patio and you can also see the patio to
 Grange which is the apartment furthest away.
Squirrel investigating the feeder in the Derwent garden

 Red squirrel looking closely at a tree trunk strategically placed
 on the Derwent patio and stuffed with hazelnuts.

Climbing to the very top of the basket
squirrel feeder in Grange garden

Using the garden cover to sneak up on the hidden nuts.

Squirrel looking over the Grange patio

The feeding log is popular and has now
been moved to the Grange patio.

I would like to express my thanks to everyone - the owners and others who purchase the cards. Each year I will produce new cards from my August, October and November visits to Underscar. 

The staff at Oxley's reception desk have done a terrific job in selling the cards and postcards - so much so that the number of cards and postcards sold has reached one thousand..

The maintenance staff are to be commended in constructing new boxes, filling and cleaning feeders and purchasing feed. Any grey squirrel sightings are reported to Glenis, Richard and Julian.

Underscar maintenance staff do a sterling job with the feeders.
Once again thanks to everyone for supporting the Underscar Red Squirrel colony.

One happy squirrel.