Autumn

It’s a mild autumn day and perfect for a stroll among the falling leaves. The squirrels are out in force today and the first one I encounter is just a few feet from my doorway. After that I see several more collecting nuts ready for their winter hibernation.

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It is still so mild that even butterflies are out and I also see another hummingbird hawk moth but fail to photograph it. However while sorting through my images I came across two nice photos I had overlooked in my eagerness to post the previous humming hawk moth photos.

Meanwhile I reflect on today’s welcome news that eleven supreme court judges have unanimously ruled against Boris Johnson. I think it is the first time I have felt any relief since the start of the whole Brexit saga. It is a great day for the rule of law, if not democracy.

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Just minding his own business … zen-like.

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‘Nuts whole hazel nuts’ … a mouthful of nuts ready for winter

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The hummingbird hawk moth close up from my last encounter.

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Note the particularly long proboscis.

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A red admiral butterfly seen for the first time this year.

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A jay finds a convenient wooden handrail to perch on.

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… and sheep are doing their best to keep the grass trimmed on the hillsides.

Chasing squirrels

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I continue pursuing the squirrels with limited success. This first shot I fired off at 1/250th while at the same time keeping an eye on a buzzard perched on a treetop far away. I was hoping the buzzard would swoop down in my direction so my focus was not really on the squirrels. However this snatched shot was an improvement on the previous attempts, thanks to the afternoon sunshine. Soon after this the buzzard did swoop down and flew right past but it all happened so quickly I failed to get a single fuzzy image before it vanished behind some nearby trees.

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Meanwhile early evening I spotted a new red squirrel. Most squirrels I see in the forest tend to be red squirrels with tufted ears, white chests and bushy tails or a similar black variety with no tufts. Those seen so far on the hazelnut tree look more like dark brown rats, with bushy tails. So I was encouraged to see this new variety which looked quite different. It was a beautiful chestnut red with a long bushy tail and just a hint of tufts on its ears. It may have just been an immature red squirrel. Sadly the light was very bad being early evening, so even shooting even with flash at 1/125th all the images appeared black on the camera viewfinder. The flash had little impact as the tree was too far away, so it was only through a little post processing manipulation that anything came out at all.

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The following evening I ventured out just before sundown as it seems to be when they are most active. I was not hopeful but I notice the red squirrel perched on a nearby branch and decided this might be a good opportunity. The squirrel was so engrossed in consuming nuts I don’t think it even noticed me or the sound of the camera clicking away. I shot at 1/100th 200 ASA and this time got some reasonable shots.

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Meanwhile the darker squirrel had made an appearance on a lower branch. The red squirrel took exception to that for some reason and made huge dive dislodging the squirrel. After a brief scuffle the red squirrel shot back up the branch, maybe it was just a friendly greeting. Who knows.

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Update:

Yesterday I noticed another newcomer, this time a red squirrel with a black bushy tail.

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Chasing squirrels

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Not one of my best photos of a squirrel, it must be said, but I ventured out today to capture an image to mark what must be the warmest mid winter’s day ever recorded. With clear blue skies, no wind and temperatures easily reaching 17C degrees that has to be contrasted with the normal winter’s temperature here, which is usually somewhere between zero and minus 15C degrees! There were plenty of red squirrels out tempting me this way and that but a decent photo of one eluded me and this was probably the best one out of a very bad bunch.

Anyway the squirrels clearly seem to think it’s Spring having come out of their winter hibernation and once again there were a few butterflies and other insects making the most of the fine weather. As the end of March usually marks the end of winter up here I think it is too early to stow my winter gear away.