First published: 24-Sep-2011
I know, it is a bit of a funny title for a blog entry, but bear with me and it will all be revealed.
Today I went to the forest to see the squirrels. During the week I went once but none showed up. It was sunny when I left today and it stayed sunny for a bit, until the first squirrels showed up. Within no time it was pouring rain. With the strong wind it was worth waiting, because often the rain blows over very quickly then. Not that time, so I left to do some shopping. Returning from the shop the sun was out again so I gave it another go, and of course exactly the same happened. A heavy and prolonged downpour just when the squirrels showed up. When I was about to give up, it cleared up and I was rewarded with some sunshine.
Five different squirrels turned up and at some stage four at the same time, so that was very good. Most of them have some specific feature that distinguishes them. I give them names to keep them apart. It may seem a bit silly, but it helps me to keep track of them and to try to understand some of their behaviour. There is a male with a strange curve in its tail (Curly, he’s a bully who doesn’t tolerate anyone else), there’s a male with a white tip on its tail with the original name of White Tip, then there is one with two vague white stripes at the base of its tail (Stripy) and towards the end a female turned up without any specific features so I named her Miss Pretty.
When the sun had disappeared from the forest and I was about to go home the brave squirrel appeared that was walking over my legs last week to get to the nuts. It misses a chunk from its left ear, so I baptised it Chunky. I think it’s a female, but not 100% sure yet. I stayed a bit longer to see if she was brave enough to steal nuts from the bag again. She came very close but then all of a sudden White Tip started to make alert calls and this made the others nervous. They are unfathomable creatures. You can spend hours with them and they don’t mind and come really close, and then from one minute to the next they can look at you as if you are the greatest threat in the forest.
This naming session today reminded me of the first squirrel I ever photographed there and that I continued to photograph for over two years. Last time I saw it was at the end of January, so I assume it has died. It was a brave, big male with the top of its tail missing and I called it Short Tail. But I also had a less respectful nickname for it: Big Nose. Check out this photo and you have to admit that he really had a big nose! He often had this look as if he was smiling at me. Hope there are plenty of hazelnuts for him in squirrel heaven.