Seeing red

It’s finally happened…

No, not that! (Whatever you thought it might be.)

I’ve seen a red squirrel in the wild,or at least, I’m fairly sure I have.

This morning I was cycling through the little town of Menai Bridge on my way to work, as I usually do on a weekday morning. As I was passing some trees on the road above the football pitch, I noticed a small foxy-red shape moving in one of the trees. I didn’t have time to stop for a closer look but the glance I was able to spare as I cycled past indicated that it was definitely squirrel-shaped, definitely red and probably a bit smaller than your average grey squirrel. Hence, I’m fairly certain it was a red squirrel.

The island of Anglesey is, I understand, one of the few places in Britain which has remained a natural habitat (or at least retained areas which are) for red squirrels while they died out elsewhere, although they have been reintroduced in several other places with varying degrees of success. Amongst other places which are supposed to be the home of the elusive red squirrels is the patch of woodland in Menai Bridge between Waitrose and the shore, down by church island. However, despite having walked many times in those woods, often with my eyes peeled for interesting wildlife and sometimes waiting quietly for fairly long times (if there’s nobody else around to disturb the peace), I’ve never succeeded in seeing one there.

The place I saw the squirrel was just over the road from there, although it is a fairly busy road and close to quite a few houses, so I was fairly surprised to see it where I did and not in the depths of the woods. Hopefully it won’t be the last time I see one.

Although this was my first red squirrel in the wild, it wasn’t the first time I’ve ever seen a live red squirrel. That, as far as I can recall, was at a wildlife reserve somewhere in Scotland back in about 1986. Ever since moving to North Wales around the turn of the millennium, I’ve been quite excited at the prospect of having them on my doorstep (since I think they are much nicer creatures than grey squirrels, though I don’t have anything particularly against those either and I do quite enjoy watching them run around in the trees). It’s even more exciting to have actually seen one with my own eyes.

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