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Posts Tagged ‘red squirrels’

Dining out solo is often avoided but doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience.  Considering the following advice may enhance your chances of enjoying yourself while eating out at a table for one.  For example, you might feel that everyone is watching you.  Show some confidence.  Perhaps they don’t get to see a natural redhead every day, especially one with such an attractive tail.

Choosing to dine at less busy times might make you less self-conscious.  Those pesky chickadees with all their twittering would certainly contribute to your sense of loneliness.   Bring along a book to read but realize that reading The Nutcracker after the Christmas season is over may attract unwanted stares.  Enjoy a glass of wine  as it might make you feel more relaxed.  Just make sure you can hold your liquor.

Once you’ve done it a few times, you might wonder why you ever dreaded eating alone in the first place.  Spared the need to carry on a conversation, you might find yourself appreciating the tastes and aromas of your dinner even more than usual.  Feel free to dig in.

Of course, if you choose to simply eat on the run, the loss is yours.  There will always be those who are more than eager to partake in the delights of dining solo.

Scott at Views Infinitum has extended an open invitation to take part in his food photography assignment.  Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 26th at midnight.  Bon appétit!

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spruce tree tops

White spruce branches are heavy with cones wherever I look:  in the yard, near Rainbow Haven Beach and along the Salt Marsh Trail.  It looks like a bumper crop year.  The squirrels and birds must be happy.

spruce cones2

If a plant is under stress from the weather one year, it will produce more seed the following year.  The year after Hurricane Juan hit Nova Scotia was also a bumper crop year.  Wind certainly helps with pollination.

Although it’s not yet understood how they do it, it’s believed that some bird species, such as finches, can locate a bumper crop of cones from half a continent away.  Their ability to do this might have something to do with their highly developed sensory and nervous systems.

balsam fir cones

Balsam fir cones can also be found on the ground in the yard.  There are more of these trees than any other here.  The majority of them grew up shortly after Hurricane Juan took down the larger trees in 2003, allowing more light and rain to reach the seeds on the bottom of the forest floor.

spruce cones on trail

While walking along the Salt Marsh Trail, it’s difficult to not take it personally when squirrels are throwing cones down from the top of trees.  In their quest for the perfect cone, flawed ones fall to the ground.  Perhaps this bumper crop is an indicator that I won’t have to put out as many sunflower seeds this winter.  There seem to be enough cones out there to feed an army of Red Squirrels.

red squirrel

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squirrels in trees

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

~ Charles Dickens

It started out as a whirlwind relationship with all the romantic trimmings…  playful chases through the forest, bouquets of fresh evergreens, blazing sunsets and quiet sunflower seed dinners by moonlight.  Nothing this good could last forever… something was bound to happen to end it all… kids!

squirrels eating

They’re everywhere:  leaping in the trees, eating at the bird feeders and drinking at the birdbath.  I counted seven yesterday.  [Up to 18 can co-exist per acre (Layne 1954) , an area just a bit smaller than my yard].  Although three can be seen in the photograph above, there was actually a fourth that had just slipped behind  the tree.  They’re cute, but they’re constantly squabbling with one another.

squirrels

“He stole my sunflower seeds!”

“I was sitting on that post first!”

“She keeps biting my tail!  Mommmmmm!!!!!”

Recklessly leaping from branch to branch, their antics and chatter make them an easy target for predators, putting the whole family at risk.  It never ends.  Dawn until sunset… day after day… week after week… what are squirrel parents to do?  Hmmmm… Why not have more?

Red Squirrels will often have more than one set of offspring per season if the situation is good.  Which it obviously is…

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squirrel-tail

As colorful as it is, a Red Squirrel’s tail blends in well with the landscape.

When I was young, I recall many boys collecting squirrel tails as tiny trophies to show off their prowess with a gun or slingshot.  I don’t think any of them ate squirrel at their house, so the whole point of killing the squirrel was to get the tail.  

Besides trophies, are there any other uses for a squirrel’s tail?  Of course there are:

  • Red Squirrels use their tails for warmth.  A tail’s fluffiness would certainly increase the loft surrounding their bodies in the cold.
  • Evert alert, Red Squirrels use their tails as little flags with which to signal one another and other creatures in the forest should a predator enter their environment.
  • Mostly arboreal, Red Squirrels leap from branch to branch as a means of moving across their territory.  Their tails help to balance their fall so that they are more likely than not, to land according to plan.
  • Some have suggested that a squirrel will use its tail as a diversion for predators and as something to be caught and ripped apart (rather than their bodies) during an attack. 

Regardless of its many uses, a squirrel’s tail is a beautiful ornament for an amazing little creature, but best left attached.

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red-squirrelRed Squirrels have frequented my yard for as long as I can remember.  And why not?  They have lots of coniferous trees laden with seeds to feast on.  Any cats we’ve ever had, have always been indoors.  The squirrels have nested in birdhouses I’ve provided (for the birds) and managed to get a good share of the seed left for the birds as well. 

Though Red Squirrels might be taken for granted by me and other Nova Scotians, this month, the Forestry Commission in Scotland decided to take aggressive action in ensuring the survival of its beloved Red Squirrel population.  Apparently it is being threatened by the larger Grey Squirrels, introduced from the U.S.  Besides an attempt at culling the Grey Squirrel population (ravenous eaters and carriers of a pox that is deadly to Red Squirrels but not the Grey), the Forestry Commission will be planting more conifer trees in some forests.  Grey Squirrels, for some unknown reason, have an exclusive preference for deciduous forests.  Besides nuts, from oaks especially, I wonder if their choice of territory has anything to do with the types of predators found in these two forests.

eastern-gray-squirrel

Although I haven’t noticed any Grey Squirrels in Cow Bay, that’s not to say they won’t make their way here eventually.  They’ve already expanded their territory to parts of Canada where they were unknown to exist only a short time ago.  But as I look out my back yard, and see all the new growth of Balsam Firs since Hurricane Juan, it seems to me that, at least in my neck of the woods,  the Red Squirrels are here to stay. 

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