(1) Grey Squirrel
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The Grey Squirrel.
There was I on one of my walks when I came across the Grey Squirrel on a branch about eight feet above the ground, sitting there staring at what appeared to be nothing. It was so motionless that I began to think that it was a dummy. Anyway, it was out in the open with no branches to block my view of my camera, so I got it out of my case that was when it came to life and beat a hasty retreat. But only for a short distance. I moved very slowly lifting my camera up to my eyes, but there were now branches galore to block my view. Anyway I got what you see a very poor image of one Squirrel in amongst these branches with the sun getting its bit in just to get me upset. If I hadn’t spent those few seconds deciding if it was real, I would have got a great photo. (Tough, spilt milk etc.)
There have been many tales going back a few years that Squirrels are on Bute. What kind no one seemed to know but the evidence was there, so I was told but never saw it. Then many years later a roadman was digging a ditch on the Rhubodach road, when what he said was a Red one came from the shore, ran across the road in front of him then into the bushes and disappeared.
On Talking to him, I agreed that he had indeed seen a red one. This was before the last big left hand bend before Rhubodach Cottage, where there is plenty of small trees at the start with bigger ones further up, then Into the Big Pine Trees.
Across the water at Colintraive, there is plenty of the Red variety, but as yet I have never seen a squirrel swim, even at the Burnt Islands where Foxes and Red Deer swim across and maybe even Roe Deer. Come by ferry? Now that would be a first.
There have been other sightings but were not substantiated.
We have read many times about how the Grey variety carry a pox that is deadly for the Red ones, so this is how they want to kill the greys and preserve the reds.
The Reds are indigenous to Britain, but the greys came from North America in the 19 th centuries and are now the most common one in Britain. Widespread in England and Wales but local in Scotland and Ireland.
The Reds are the most common in N England and the Scottish Highlands with isolated colonies elsewhere.
There was talk on the Greys in the museum a while ago which was very interesting, and it turns out that they taste very nice, so when hearing that, it would seem to sound a death knell for them, but as yet there is no sign of them in the Supermarkets. Would you eat one of them? It would seem not very nice to do so, yet many years ago plenty of us eat plenty of rabbits and hares, with the rabbits being the favourites.
Well the last thing that we want on Bute is a colony of Greys, but we want plenty of Reds.
The Grey one that you see was not on Bute, but beside the Kip Marina at Inverkip, so if there ‘are’ any Red ones, they will not be harmed by this one.
First Published in the Buteman 08-02-2013