Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Red squirrel number doubles!

It’s fair to say that when a bird, butterfly, damselfly or in this case the red squirrel visits the garden, unless there is more than one at any given time or a distinctive difference in its appearance (like partial albino or missing feathers) you have no idea if it is the same individual returning.

Having never seen a Red squirrel, ever, in my garden until the beginning of the month I never remotely considered there could be more than one visiting. Until late last night that is! Expecting more than one would be just pure greed wouldn’t it?

Keen to publish as many of blog posts as I can before the end of the year, browsing photo folders, I discovered a few red squirrel photos (taken only as quick, hand-held record shots by the look of the focussing in them). Blurry photos are easy captures with red squirrels when they move so fast.

Very fortunate it was then, that I hovered ever so slightly over my PC mouse before clicking delete. Something caught my eye in these blurry and rather heavily orange toned, red squirrel captures. The date revealed they were taken the next day after we were witness to a red squirrel running around the garden stashing peanuts - expecting it to return would be no surprise.

Just four shaky photos confirmed two red squirrels have visited the garden this month. Actually, within two days. Wow, November 19th saw shirls gardenwatch reach ten yrs old and what a reward this is! That is just fantastic news. Now, I will photograph every red squirrel I am fortunate enough to see and compare markings and colouring :-)

It’s time for introductions now…

Nov 16th: The red squirrel that stashed peanuts in every border of the garden.
For winter (snow) I stashed part of our pruned rowan tree trunk in a border
as a perch for birds. I could never have imagined a red squirrel would use it :-)

Nov 17th: Red squirrel No.2 with colouring more orange. I failed to edit tones to match so clearly they don’t. A closer look half way along its back reveals the biggest difference and confirmation they are at least two indiviuals visiting.

Nov 17th: Red squirrel No.2 side view showing bare area of body fur on back.
I am guessing a left over from moulting. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but this individual looks less confident about its head suggesting it could be young.

Nov 16th: The stashing peanut red squirrel again for comparison.
After much searching this photo shows best available like for like view.
There are both dark and blonde tones in the tail of this individual too.

So there we have it, November 2016 gets the award for the best blog month out of ten years’ gardenwatching! It’s still got one more day to go yet too and this lunchtime, from my gardenwatch window, a large group of Redwings and Fieldfares were spotted in the distant tree again. The likelihood of being at home at the right time tomorrow , should they descend to my garden apple offering, is very low. But never say never :-)

Ah yes, I shouldn’t forget to add that I did see on twitter last night that Waxwings were seen a few streets away yesterday lunchtime! They were most likely passing by en route south, but fantastic to think they have been in the area too. I’m not being greedy with them either, they are quite special winter visiting birds too. I’ll be happy to just see them in the distant tree where the Redwings perch :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2016.


Sue Garrett said...

A fantastic tenth birthday gift. When we visited the red squirrel sanctuary at Formby I was surprised to see red squirrels that were almost black. (Sounds silly put like that).

So maybe I will yet see some waxwings - fingers crossed. I think I'll try the apple stick idea if nothing else the blackbirds will love them. They are browsing our windfalls in the plot.

Midmarsh John said...

Better and better Shirley. Great observation. The icing on the cake would be a breeding pair in the neighbourhood next Spring.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

If the red squirrels are anything like the grey squirrels here they won't abandon the edible treasure trove they have found in your garden. Be prepared to find them a regular in the garden. I hope the waxwings find your goodies too.

Shirley said...

Hello again to you all, thanks for visiting and leaving your comments :-)

Sue, isn’t it just. I still can’t believe it. I wasn’t at home at lunchtime to see it today but my daughter spotted it. I’ve heard of black, albino and leucistic ‘red’squirrels. I agree it does sound odd. I’ve no idea if the waxwings, fieldfares and redwings were about today but there numbers were in groups of 50 so I suspect there will be leaders among them that will be directing them towards you. Fingers crossed for you that you get a glimpse. I do recommend putting apples on sticks, bamboo canes and pruned tree branches as they do work a treat. Yes, the Blackbirds, Blue tits and other birds like Blackcaps will feed on them too. A couple of days ago I spotted a Song Thrush (not the one with missing feathers either) feeding here and slowly grabbed my video in time :-)

John, it really is. Breeding in the area would be fantastic. My immediate photo and video challenge is to properly catch it stashing nuts in the garden borders. It’s so incredibly quick though and so fast at changing direction making it’s movement very difficult to predict. I like a challenge though. Ah… if only my bushnell camera worked again :-(

Lisa, I would tend to agree there. However, this could potentially be an expensive garden visitor especially if two or more become regulars over the winter months. I guess there is a risk that greys will follow them one day too. Thanks, I wasn’t at home to gardenwatch today but suspect the waxwings will be long gone… but you never know :-)