Tuesday, 28 February 2017


As winter was approaching, during our Underscar stay, the red squirrels all around us - hidden or in plain sight - were actively planning ahead and making preparations to survive the dropping temperatures. Part of this preparation includes the red squirrels preparing the dreys that will keep them and their families alive during the colder months.

This Underscar red is out searching for food in the snow on 18th November 2016.

The following day all the snow had disappeared as another Underscar red spotted a clump of fungi as he peered over the wall.

He knows how useful mushrooms can be to include in his larder over the winter months.

I observed this red squirrel carry off some of these mushrooms.From my research I have discovered he will make mushroom jerky by hanging pieces to dry between tree branches so they are preserved for longer.

This red squirrel will probably take its mushroom feast back to trees nearer his drey.A drey built in tree branches can be as high as 30 feet off the ground,and one of a few nests built by the same squirrel, which act as contingencies for unforeseen complications like flea infestations.

During our two week November stay our weather changed each day. On some of the drier brighter days I took out a set of baskets filled with hazelnuts to tempt the red squirrels into making an appearance.

I moved the baskets onto the top of the garden shed by Castlerigg, so the red squirrels could peer down to see the basket contents from the top of the fence.

Their curiosity about the baskets and the contents made them very bold. Late autumn is the time for Underscar red squirrels to bury a whole ton of nuts. What an opportunity for gathering nuts here!

I kept swapping the baskets around on top of the shed to try and give me better photographic opportunities. It was interesting to see how with their sharp noses they rooted out the exact amount of nuts in each basket.

This red squirrel always seemed to return to the smallest basket and then sit in the basket to enjoy eating its nut.

This red squirrel is preparing for winter by eating as much as it can. In just one week, a squirrel can eat as much food as his entire body weight.The extra fat from these meals helps red squirrels survive even the coldest temperatures.

Some red squirrels visiting the basket perfectly balance themselves to enjoy their nut.

The same red squirrel dips in a second time just like choosing a chocolate . He is searching for a heavy nut as he knows this will have plenty of nourishment inside it, and will be a good one to bury.

This red squirrel is making sure he is storing a heavy nut to eat later on in the winter season - often he will remember exactly where he has buried his stash of nuts.

This red squirrel is content to pose in the sunshine on the basket.

Another November day during our stay brings a frosty morning. It seems to motivate the red squirrels into collecting nuts all the daylight hours they can.

To save time they jump the falls in the woodland walk  to reach the supply of nuts in the baskets.

I watch as this red squirrel goes back and forth many times always launching itself from the same spot. It's a lot of work for a little animal.

Returning with his nut from the baskets and planning to bury it just on the other side of the fall. It is clear to see him patting the earth down with his paws.

Red squirrels are active like this all winter and spend much time on the ground, apparently searching for caches and occasionally digging up and reburying a nut.

I observed how they seem to need self-imposed rewards for all their toil.They dug up and reburied several nuts - but not 
until they had first munched on a bunch of them.

Sitting now writing my blog report for our November visit in 2016, I am aware of a magical time which will be happening in the Underscar woods right now in February. Baby squirrels, who are often born in the chilly month of January, will be curled up in their dreys all huddled together to keep warm.

By using this link I can provide a photo of this for you.