America gave us chewing gum, nylon stockings, Heinz 57 varieties and The Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen. They also arranged a plague of American grey squirrels, These arboreal rodents have spread throughout the island of Britain, driving away our unfortunate native red squirrels.
It is estimated that there are now over 2.5 million grey squirrels and perhaps only 140,000 red squirrels that manage to survive in just a few strongholds. In 1875 there were no grey squirrels at all but then the owner of a Cheshire country estate introduced a pair of greys as exotic curiosities.
The rest is history as they say. Growing up in East Yorkshire, I do not remember ever seeing a grey squirrel in our village. Nowadays they are more or less everywhere. We see grey squirrels in our parks and gardens, squashed in our roads or raiding our bird tables. Thanks America!
A week ago, Shirley and I visited the coastal pine forest at Formby on the Lancashire coast. I knew there was a red squirrel sanctuary there so we visited it, hardly expecting to see any native squirrels but to our surprise and delight there were plenty.
|This greedy squirrel was called Steve|
They were scurrying hither and thither, leaping between trees and generally doing all that they could to avoid being successfully photographed. If I had had more time to spare, I would have simply focused on an old log or something and waited patiently for a squirrel to appear. Following the little blighters around with my lens was like playing some kind of crazy video game - "Hunt The Squirrel".
An occasional visitor to this humble blog is Ian from "Shooting Parrots". He is a huge fan of the red squirrel. During his grammar school days, in the forbidding suburbs of Manchester, he was even nicknamed "Tufty" by the other boys and his favourite Beatrix Potter book was of course "Squirrel Nutkin". Specially for Ian, and for Red Squirrel in Red Deer - Alberta, this post is accompanied by the best red squirrel pictures I managed to snap at Formby - but as my old Mathematics teacher used to say on school reports - "Could do better".
|Gotcha! But not sharp enough|