Bluebell Squirrel

I don’t normally point my camera at grey squirrels but I made an exception today. I don’t dislike them and I do enjoy watching their antics, I think it’s probably more the fact they are so common. We even have one visit the feeders in our very urban garden.

The grey squirrel was introduced to Great Britain in the mid-19th century and after a number of releases it began to increase dramatically in population at the beginning of the 20th century, mainly spreading from Woburn Park, Bedfordshire. ¬†They came to England from North America and are now one of Britain’s most well-known and frequently seen mammals, with an estimated population of 2 million compared to the 160, 000 native red squirrels. It’s not their fault they’re here more the fault of bored rich Victorians introducing them onto their estates without any knowledge of the damage they would do to the red squirrel by passing on a disease they were immune to but which was devastating to the red.

Anyway I was in the woods to photograph the woodpeckers and was watching this squirrel and silently urging it to move into a nearby patch of bluebells for a more photogenic picture. It duly obliged and then went a step further by digging up an old acorn..

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Dirty nose and a dirty acorn, or is it a olive?.

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It quickly and deftly removed the outer casing and begin to enjoy the seed inside.

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Target Acquired

I don’t usually set off with the aim of targeting a particular bird or animal, I usually decide on a location and see what turns up. So it might be river, wood, moors or a reserve and off I go. However while watching the short eared owl I did spy a new bird¬† for me flying past and so I decided I would set off with the sole intent of photographing a Wheatear.

Wheatears overwinter in Sub Saharan Africa and at this time of year are just returning from an epic journey. They are small ground dwelling birds and are very much an upland bird enjoying the windswept moors above where I live.

After spending an unsuccessful half hour in the vicinity where I’d seen one a few days earlier I decided to move on and about a mile down the road was rewarded with a male perching perfectly on a rock.

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They are a very smart bird with the male having a steel blue head and back and a pale orange chest and a very distinct white eye stripe.

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They are slightly larger than a robin and tend to hop or run along the ground looking for insects. There were a couple of males about but I didn’t manage to spot a female so I guess a return trip is on the cards!

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The name Wheatear is derived from the Old English for ‘white’ (wheat) and ‘arse’ (ear), referring to their white rump of course, displayed to perfection in this shot!

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