3 Red Squirrels – yes, I saw 3 Red Squirrels yesterday. Now, those of you not living in Ireland may not realise the significance of this occurrence but let me tell you that this was indeed a “VSE”, a very special event.
Ok, so the truth is that the Red Squirrel is a native Irish species but it has been brought close to extinction by the larger North American Grey Squirrel which was introduced into Ireland by some ‘eejit’ at the beginning of the 20th century ( I’m quoting Colin Stafford Johnson here, who presents the exellent nature programme entitled “Living the Wildlife”).
Now, Grey Squirrels are nasty and whenever they arrive in an area, the resident Red Squirrels (who are extra cute) usually disappear within 5 to 15 years. Tragic. But there were 3 Red Squirrels in a wood near Dublin yesterday. Was this a record?
The image above is one I did for a book that my brother and I collaborated on some years ago. Cóilín Mac Lochlainn, who is an environmental journalist and photographer, could tell you a lot more about this, but there’s talk that Pine Martens (native species) are growing in number in Ireland and that they are preying on Grey Squirrels – thus improving the lot of our native Red Squirrels… Apparently, as the Reds are lighter they can escape to the highest branches where Pine Martens dare not venture. The heavier Greys are not quite as nimble so…
unfortunately for them… curtains. Nach ait an mac an saol.
If you have any Red Squirrel stories, we’d love to hear from you.
more about my own work at: http://www.emacl.com