Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Just a Selection.

                                       JANUARY: Perfect Landing                                                                                                                                                 

                                        FEBRUARY: Beautiful Blue Tit

MARCH: A nut for a Nuthatch


                                      APRIL: Great Crested Grebe heralds the start of Spring


                                                   MAY: Barn Owl locating supper

                                                JUNE: Punk Chick, coiffured adult

                                        JULY: Another telling off for the Guillemot chick

              AUGUST: Good pose and becomes the 2014 postcard for Underscar

SEPTEMBER: What a wingspan - up to two metres

                               OCTOBER: Well hidden Little Owl calling to it's mate

NOVEMBER: Two for the price of one: Nut Feast, thanks to the owners, Oxley's members and friendly staff on site for buying squirrel cards..

                      DECEMBER: Britain's favourite bird looking fierce and bullish

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Oxley the red squirrel. His first winter.

Oxley the red squirrel, during infancy stays within easy reach of his parents drey. As he grows he will start to move further away from the woodland surrounding the Underscar Estate.

Now 16 weeks old he will probably be living in an area of the woodland which the older squirrels have decided is not a good location. They will get first pick of the best areas. As the older squirrels die, Oxley   
may manage  to slip back to a better area and establish a more permanent space.

At the moment the forestry commission are thinning out the woodlands surrounding the Underscar Estate. Oxley may decide to build his first winter drey there.

Oxley is still easily recognisable to me. He is always the first up the boundary wall at Castlerigg in the morning. He knows I will have just filled the feeder with hazelnuts.

If I am in the process of filling the feeder he just sits close by on the wall waiting.

He will sniff quite a lot trying to decide if he is safe staying so near to me.

The above photos were all taken on a sunny morning.The ear tufts look freshly crimped, What a difference a wet day makes on the ear tufts, see below.

A frosty morning saw him surprised as fine rain froze on his fur and whiskers. His ear tufts became frozen and looked like needles.
He was curious about the cold feeling on his paws. He seemed to be trying to warm them up.

Winter will be tough for Oxley so he has developed a thick fur coat. By far the highest  proportion of deaths in a red squirrel colony is accounted for by youngsters under one year of age. Oxley will not be as experienced at finding the cached hazelnuts. This could mean he gets extremely hungry.

Oxley trying to remember where the buried hazelnuts are.

Supplementary feeding at Underscar is so important at this time of year. It prevents a population crash if the winter is bad. Once a squirrel has made it past the age of one, be it a red or a grey, it is not uncommon for it to live on to 4 or even 5 years of age.

The Fisherbeck staff at Underscar do a marvellous job in looking after the red squirrel colony. Liz O'Neill sells the squirrel photo cards on reception. All monies raised is used by Glenis Jones (Head Housekeeper) to purchase the hazelnuts. Glenis fills the feeders every 3 to 4 days. The maintenance team ---- Julian, Richard, and Nathan site new feeders and maintain them.

There are many variations in how a red squirrel looks. I am fascinated by what differences in red squirrels can emerge from the chance mixing of genes. The most unusual red squirrel I have spotted at Underscar in November this year had the most amazing two tone tail . It was very easy to spot during its foraging. It seemed a very dominant male in its relationship with the others.