Seeing red (part 2)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about having seen (or at least thinking I’d seen) a red squirrel.

Although I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d been correct in my identification, having only seen it fleetingly and more-or-less out of the corner of my eye, comments from a few other people who live in the area confirmed at least the possibility of it having been a red squirrel.

Today I saw another one and this time I saw it clearly enough to be sure.

I had a dentist’s appointment this afternoon in Menai Bridge, just after 3pm. As it happens, it was a bit snowy this morning so I walked into work instead of cycling. In order to get to the dentist on time, I went straight there after finishing work (having already arranged to take the afternoon off for it) and when I’d finished (actually a few minutes before the appointment was due, as I’d arrived a bit early and they had a gap) I called in at Waitrose to pick up a bottle of milk and a cup of coffee, then walked back through the woods as I usually do when I’ve been shopping there.

As I walked through the woods, enjoying the many birds that were relatively visible due to the absence of leaves on most of the trees (it being essentially a deciduous woodland), I spotted a squirrel climbing up the trunk of a tree a few yards in front of me. It was unmistakeably red, although not quite as much smaller than a typical grey squirrel as I’d expected.

The initial view was the clearest but only lasted for about 10 seconds before it had climbed the trunk and disappeared into the branches at the top. However, I waited patiently for a minute or two before catching sight of it again and then was able to watch it (intermittently) for several minutes.

For most of the time, the squirrel remained quite high in the trees, and in fairly deep shade, so it was only the first sight of it that enabled me to clearly identify it as a red.

As well as the excitement of seeing a red squirrel in the wild, I had a short conversation with a random stranger as a lady walking through the woods spotted me staring intently into the trees and wanted to know what I’d seen. Apparently she’s a fairly regular visitor to these woods and she said that she’s seen red squirrels here before, but not for several months.

I’ve been vaguely keeping a watch for red squirrels whenever I’ve walked in these particular woods over the last several years. Now that I know for definite that there’s at least one there, I hope I’ll get to see it (and perhaps more) again before too long.


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.