All things begin and end on Albion’s ancient, rocky, druid shore
I’m on holiday on Anglesey at the moment. We arrived at the same time as the tail end of Hurricane Irene from across the atlantic, which means that the island is being lashed by rain and strong winds, adding a touch of grandeur and romantic drama to the rocky coast.
We won’t be doing any sunbathing, but then there are plenty of other things to keep a (very) amateur naturalist occupied here. Looking back through this site I’m suprised to see that it was three years ago that I went looking for the red squirrels in Newborough Forest on the south west of Anglesey. Time has flown by.
On that occasion I didn’t see any squirrels, despite walking for miles and miles (it’s a big forest). Today I went back to Newborough to try again. This time, I was (by my standards) more prepared. I read in Simon King’s Wildguide that the best time to see squirrels is at daybreak, so I set the alarm for 6.00am. By 6.20 I was walking quietly through the woods, the bracing sea air and the smell of the pine trees as invigourating as any breakfast.
There is a network of paths through the forest, and I stalked along as stealthily as I could in the gloomy half-light, scanning the swaying treetops for any signs of movement. After 45 minutes and no sign of a red whisker anywhere I was ready to concede defeat again and headed back to the car park, where – sod’s law – two red squirrels were scampering around the trees. There are squirrel feeders near the car park. I suppose I frightened them off when I arrived but they returned as I was wandering about deep in the woods.
These were the first red squirrels I’ve seen, and delightful things they were too, from the tufts on their ears to their bushy tails. The situation wasn’t great for photography, what with it being half-dark and the squirrels too far away. To give you an idea, there’s a squirrel in this picture (I’ll give you a clue – it’s three-quarters of the way up the big tree):
Can you see it? Perhaps if I zoom in a little:
How about now?
Here it is, enlarged as much as the photo will take:
OK – it won’t win wildlife photo of the year, but if you’d seen this picture first you’d have been disappointed. At least now I’ve built some suspense and you’ll understand the circumstances it was taken under. And I hope you’ll agree it’s definitely a red squirrel. I’ll try to get a better picture if I can get out of bed early again, but at the moment this is my own little record of my first sighting of a red squirrel.