Friday 24 May 2013

2 Hares, 1 Red Squirrel, No Goslings

I was treated to a lovely sight yesterday morning as I went out first thing to do my feed rounds - 2 hares strolling up the East Field back lit by the morning sun. I hasten to add that this picture is not one of mine - I am never organised enough at that time in the morning to have shipped the camera and telephoto - this is a shot blagged off the internet, as are the next two. We have our own subspecies of hare 'over here', the Irish or Blue Hare and we've seen these several times since we moved. Usually they are racing from A to B and you catch only a fleeting glimpse but yesterday these two ambled up the field and when they say me emerge from the back door, paused and gazed at me. I looked at them and them at me for some seconds, maybe half a minute before their nerve seemed to fail them and they turned and hurried off back down the field.

I thought I'd done well but I was completely trumped later in the morning by Liz's sighting of a red squirrel chasing across the road down by Shannon's Cross, just north of our local village, Loughglynn. No mistaking it, she says, although she couldn't believe her eyes at first and was mentally ticking off possible more likely creatures.... stoat or weasel? Nope, big bushy tail. Grey squirrel? Nope - this one glowed in its gingery orangeness!

In theory we KNOW we are in red squirrel country with the greys fading out at roughly the mid-line up Ireland and a band of 'only reds' territory running up through the western side of the island a bit inland from the coast. In practise neither of us had actually seen one (and I still have not, ever, unless you count captive bred animals)

Naturally we were keen to report both of these sightings for the record on the National Biodiversity Data Centre website at  Looking at the right hand map here 'since 2010' distribution those poor squirrels look a bit thin on the ground, but it's probably just lack of recent recording rather than such a catastrophic decline.

Meanwhile, back here, we are on Day 30 of Goose Incubation. I thought we were on this morning. You know how you come to 'know' your animals and can spot even the subtlest change in behaviour? Well, this morning when I went to unlock the geese, only Gander came out and he seemed to be much calmer than normal, not shouting out his excitement at his release. Both geese sat tight on their nests and when we looked through the crack (the door is old and rotting and the hinge is not very well attached, so you can see a chink of goosiness by looking from the kitchen with binoculars) there seemed to be a lot of fidgeting going on. I added 2 and 2 and made 5, of course so I was getting quite excited but later on the girls both came off and went for a stroll, graze and poo with Gander which gave me a chance for a proper look (and also suggested to me that there would NOT be a hatch - I can't imagine the new Mums would be off strolling and abandoning new babies!) Nothing yet I'm afraid, but we are only on Day 30 of the 28-35 day predicted date range. Patience is the thing.

The picture, which is cropped from a very quickly snatched mobile phone shot shows Gander finally sussing out that the pallet leading up to the enamel bath is actually a ramp for his benefit. He finally worked this out yesterday and dropped down into the bath for the first time. This is him splashing about. I will get a better picture soon.


Mr Silverwood said...

Red squirrels down this way, seen a couple now, it is belived to be due to the pine martin, not sure of the full details but something along the lines of they hunt the grey but not the red and there has been an increase in the amount of pine martins around in Ireland.

Anne Wilson said...

We have red squirrels around here and there are a lot around the Ardcarn to Keadue road.

Matt Care said...

The Pine Marten thing is apparently due to the reds being lighter so that they can escape the martens by nipping out along more slender branches, where the martens dare not go. The greys, being a lot heavier, cannot.