Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New sightings of Red Squirrel

There is an abundance of wildlife and fauna in the hills, forests and fileds that surround the Garrique. Every year when we are visiting, we discover something new or some new activity that we have not seen before.

This year my wife had the great pleasure of a brief encounter with the local Red Squirrel.

Sadly a species that is struggling to survive alongside the more invasive grey squirrel, one of which was a regular visitor to our bird feeding station at the back of the cottage.

I know I should discourage the greys as a pest species but I still enjoy watching their antics and even managed to get a couple of fuzzy snaps of them.

Our generous host spends many hours per day walking in the forests and fields with her her lovely spaniels and she had alerted us to the recent sightings of the red squirrels in the area.

I suspect they are enjoying the magnificent and ancient Scot's Pine trees that tower above the smaller Birch and the more recent conifers.

The mighty Scot's pine stand like sentinels in the forest and serve as host and protection to a large number of woodland species, including the Pied Woodpeckers.

We spent a pleasant time on our walks in the forest listening to the Pied Woodpecker drumming on the exposed trunk of a sturdy Scot's Pine, without ever seeing it clearly. A good pair of binoculars would have helped.

We saw the occasional flash of wings as it moved from tree to tree or branch to branch and heard it's rather harsh and rakish cry. A song that only the local crows and ravens would envy.

Because Spring decided to emerge just after we arrived, the forest and fields were full of thrilling activities.

The number of lambs in the fields were increasing daily, the hares were dancing and boxing, the trees and bushes were starting to open their buds (despite the efforts of the Bullfinches) and the Woodpeckers were establishing and declaring their territory by drumming on the Scot's pine.

Each drumming sound we heard nearby was quickly answered by a more distant response, from a potential rival. An ancient dialogue between breeding males to dominate their chosen patch of the forest. It was ever thus.

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