Saturday, 22 October 2016

Red squirrels



We visited a red squirrel sanctuary near Hawes in Wensleydale. There are very few areas in Britain where our native red squirrels manage to survive. Most have been crowded out by introduced American grey squirrels. The reds are smaller and need larger areas in which to thrive. For many years, there have been attempts at conservation and land management to protect them but you have to go to specific areas to have any chance of seeing them.

I've never seen them in the wild before. I was delighted to get the chance to see and photograph them, though getting good shots proved even harder than I anticipated. The squirrels dart around incredibly quickly, so you need a high shutter speed and a fast telephoto lens. My camera and lens were barely up to the task; the rain and consequent low light didn't help. Choosing the highest ISO possible, shutter speed of around 1/500 and much experimentation with focus provided me with a very few passable images, which I've had to process quite carefully to reduce the grainy 'noise' caused by the high ISO.

Having said all that, aren't they adorable? There were half a dozen of them scampering around, not tame but certainly unfazed, after a while, by the fifteen or so photographers. We moved slowly and kept quiet and were richly rewarded. One of them ran right over my feet and another came down to a tree branch right beside me and spent quite a while 'eyeballing' me. I didn't dare move so I didn't get a photo, even though it was so close I could have touched it. What a thrill though!



5 comments:

  1. Hi Jenny - how wonderful ... we had them in the garden in Surrey after the War ... but I'm so pleased the sanctuaries are around ... just wish people didn't like grey ones so much, and the same applies to seagulls!

    Lovely photos of the little critters ... delightful - cheers Hilary

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  2. Very cute! We do have some similar red squirrels here, but mostly of the grey, black, and brown varieties, which tend to be a bit bigger.

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  3. They are so cute! Our black squirrels are actually grey squirrels with a recessive gene for the black colour. It seems that there are more of them around here than the grey although they can both occur in the same litter.

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  4. We have a few red squirrels in our area that look a lot like these -- circle around the eyes etc. Folks call them 'boomers.'

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  5. The last one got right up on that tripod and lens case. You got him!

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