Let's all say Aaah...
for the delighful red squirrel
This morning B. excitedly called me to the verandah to watch as pair of red squirrels leapt from one oak to the next, running headfirst down the tree trunks like kamikaze pilots. They are delightful creatures that never fail to amuse when we spot them in our garden, where they seem to have a drey in a tall Italian Cypress tree. Sadly these fellows were too quick for me to take a photograph, so please forgive the stock photos.
Cute or not?
There is something cute about all squirrels, be they red or grey. Perhaps it is because of the way they sit on their hind legs and use their hand-like claws . Or is it those beautifully expressive bushy tails and bright button eyes that attract us? In winter the red squirrel grows a longer coat , making his little tufty ears more prominent. What is not to love about this dear little creature as it gambols about our garden?
Not all squirrels are considered cute however.
Alas, the grey squirrel is fast becoming ' bestia non grata ' throughout Europe. He may look cute as he runs around our parks, but it is a sad fact that this foreign interloper has driven most of the U.K.'s red squirrels towards the highlands of Scotland, where the conifer reigns supreme. However they can still be found on Brownsea Island near Poole, The Isle of Wight, and parts of the Lake District too. Meanwhile the grey squirrel is not only killing trees by ring barking their trunks, but he is running circles around householders, occupying their lofts and even causing damage in people's homes, as chronicled in today's Guardian newspaper. On our recent trip to Wales we were startled by thumps and bangs above our head that turned out to be a group of resident squirrels who had taken up residence in the loft. I even saw one nonchalantly eating on the lawn. To date they are still running circles around the pest controller. Thank goodness that the grey squirrel has yet to appear in France. But according to wild life experts, it is only a matter of time.
The red squirrel has other predators too.
And so is our cute little red squirrel safe in France for the time being? Alas no . He has one known predator whom we have also seen close to our home. For this second creature likes to sneak onto our balcony in the dark to steal the fat balls that we put out for the birds. It was only by setting up a 'hunting camera' that we discovered that this thief was in fact a pine marten, a creature who is known to kill red squirrels. But I feel conflicted, for the pine marten is a beautiful creature too, with his pointy ears, his long sleek fur and soft white belly. But hey, that's nature isn't it?