Friday, September 05, 2014

In search of sciurus vulgaris... the red squirrel

On several occasions we have seen a red squirrel in the garden here at La Pasera but they are very shy, quick and eager to climb high to avoid the cats Wentworth and Gawber who wouldn't think twice about trying to capture one. This picture is from a rare chance I got to photograph one in the garden after Gawber had chased it up a tree.

Luis had business in Gijon recently and I was aware from previous visits that there were a small colony of red squirrels in and around the park of  Parque de Isabel La Católica  : a perfect opportunity to try and get close up and personal. The park has a large lake and several aviaries. The lake is inhabited by various wild birds, geese, ducks and swans. Peacocks and peahens roam freely and put on great displays even when resting.

The park has a large number of very mature deciduous and coniferous trees, a range of fruiting bushes and fungi thereby making it the perfect habitat for red squirrels. Camera in hand I soon spotted a young squirrel, probably this years kitten, bounding across the path and onto the grass into the bushes quickly followed by a larger deep red adult which ran up the nearest large conifer.

I stood quietly in the shade of a walnut tree and watched as several squirrels appeared and disappeared, checking me out and assessing the threat level.

I spotted a young adult squirrel leaping from branch to branch making its way towards the water's edge. It was unfazed by a nearby gull and spent 30 seconds or more drinking from the lake before taking off again into the trees.

At eye level, an adult squirrel beginning to eat a walnut, probably dug up from last season's hoard as the shell was covered in a fine dusting of earth.  I decided to make my way towards it at a slow pace whilst taking photos. Typically I had the wrong lens on but with stealth I managed to change lens' mid-way and get closer step by step.

Throughout my advance the squirrel devoured its nut but kept a close eye on me. I knew that at some stage it would retreat.

I took one last step closer, it shreaked and ran up the tree out of sight and out of reach.

I was happy with my photographs and with watching the squirrels as the traversed their territory, happy for me to join them for a short while but equally happy when I left them in peace.

The squirrel that comes into our garden has long ear tufts whilst the ones in the park had none. I wonder why that is, seasonal, gender, age, regional...?  


  1. Anonymous12:27 pm

    Great pictures.

  2. Anonymous6:14 pm

    Great shots, Ian. Squirrels are so cute. Next time we go to Gijon, we'll go on a squrrel safari,too.

    1. Yes, do. They are fairly used to people so you can get reasonably close.

  3. Lovely pictures as ever, I find it very interesting the variations of colour with the red Squirrels, in Galicia they were very dark, almost a black with a red sheen, here they are much paler, a true red, yours look somewhere in between. Lovely to see them.


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