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Red Squirrels


Mozman

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On our latest visit to our house on the Calvados/Orne/Eure border we added this lovely creature to our list of Close Encounters.

We've had deer in our meadow on misty mornings, cookoos in our Ash tree, Barn owls roosting in our grenier, wild boar galloping across the lane and hares sprinting down rows of young maize like athletes in the 100metres. Not to mention lots of dragonflies and ugly bugs of various sizes.

But this topped the lot. I only remember red squirrels in England when I was very young....and even then they were becoming very rare.  I dimly remember seeing one at a distance of about 50 metres in a treetop.

Driving down a single track lane near Thiberville a red squirrel jumped out of the hedgebank into the road in front of the car. It was a mercy I was going slowly as part of a pleasure drive. We stopped the car.....the squirrel stopped and looked at us from 3 yards away...then made a dash for the opposite hedgebank. Only to be temporarily thwarted by a thorn bush. More time to observe the little beauty. What a fabulous colour...like that of a Bay Horse but even more red. Then with a flourish of its lush plume of tail it found a way into the meadow the other side.

Made our day of course.

Sadly a day or so later we saw another red squirrel...squashed on the road a few miles away. We always take care driving in country lanes....close encounters with young deer and various other creatures have taught us to expect the unexpected.

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I saw my first ever Red Squirrel earlier this year. He was just sitting there by the side of the road, we slowed down and had plenty of time to look at him, in fact we left before he did.

What surprised me was that he was much bigger than I had expected (not that I ever thought I would see one).

I heard my first ever cuckoo this year too

Have you been out driving in the countryside at night Mozman? A lot of critters come out to play and don't seem bothered by cars at all. One rabbit strolled down the road in front of us for about half a mile - I was on the verge of getting out and chasing him off because he clearly wasn't intimidated by the car. That explains the squishy things in the mornings I suppose.

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Dick,

According to my book they have never been away:  Basse Normandie is the normal range of the red squirrel (as is the UK except the greys were brought in from the USA and you know the rest of that story!).

We have seen plenty of red squirrels in Manche and Calvados including one stealing our nuts this summer (before they were ripe).  What's interesting is that they are very variable in colour from bright rusty orange to dark brown with red highlights to nearly black!!  They seem quite a bit smaller than the grey squirrel though.

Valerie

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The one we saw was small, and very keen to avoid us! Probably that's why we haven't seen any before. My wildlife search suggested that the reds had been ousted from northern France, but that was the internet...

This one was in a cherry tree, there are no chestnut or hazel trees around that I have seen, although I had just put a bird feeder out, and when I do that in the UK I get every squirrel for miles in the garden.
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You will find Red squirrels everywhere in France except Corsica, in fact they can be found right across Europe and northern Asia all the way to Japan, Southern Ireland too I believe has reasonable populations.

No Grey squirrels in France and I really do hope that no bright spark takes it into their head to bring any over, if they get into mainland Europe there will be no stopping them!

I have only seen one badger since being in France and that was crossing the road when I was driving home late one night, it's an animal I would have expected to see more often - or hear about someone having them near their garden.  Chris

 

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Speaking of badgers, I once saw a badger-like animal crossing the road in Switzerland.  No idea what it was, but thought it looked a bit like a wolverine, or a badger in grey / brown.

Was driving back from a rural restaurant where I thought I had ordered a horse sized piece of cow, when, to my horror, I had in fact ordered and eaten a horse sized piece of horse.

 

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Yes at the moment I see quite a few red ones as I drive to work most mornings. I'd never seen a red one in the wild until I moved to France.

Conversely, I  took 66 French school children to the Uk 18 months ago, and whilst having our picnic in the Royal Obversatory Park grounds, we were surrounded by grey squirrels as you would imagine, looking for rich pickings from our lunch boxes.

The French teachers and the kids were all amazed as they had never seen GREY squirrels and some didn't know they even existed !! Almost on par with the astonishment of the "Hot Jacket potato" sellers at Covent garden

Paul

 

 

 

 

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Spent loads of time last year taking photos of these cuties.  This one is actually pondering how on earth he is going to get the nuts out of the squirrel proof bird feeder.  Mind you he completely wrecked the fat ball I'd put out for the birds to the point where I couldn't even find the netting it came in!!!  Saw the squirrel rummaging in our garden rubbish pile the other week, selecting a few materials and scampering up the pine tree.  I reckon he's sorting out his nest for the winter.

Jan

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We've got a gorgeous red one that scampers daily through the trees in our garden, crosses the road in front of the house (without looking - obvously not a member of the Tufty Club) and scales the walls of the house opposite at lightening speed! This summer s/he found a friend and the two of them were busy bounding about together looking all lovey-dovey! 

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[quote]Speaking of badgers, I once saw a badger-like animal crossing the road in Switzerland. No idea what it was, but thought it looked a bit like a wolverine, or a badger in grey / brown. Was driving bac...[/quote]

John: It could have been a Steinmarder. I think it is a stone marten in English. They look very similar to badgers.

I am sorry that you had to eat horse meat in Switzerland, they are terrible for eating all sorts of things, I will not go any further than that as I know this Forum is read by lots of dog loving people. They certainly don't want anything to go to waste.

I have seen several red squirrels in Suisse Normande but fear for their lives as the hunters were shooting the whole weekend while we were there. It's surprising anything, apart from worms in the ground, is still alive.

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Until recently, I lived in St Lo, hardly the middle of the countryside. One morning I opened the window and on the patch of grass behind the block, where there were several trees, were three red squirrels! I had never seen one in the wild before and was overjoyed; my daughters merely yawned and said they had seen plenty - obviously they have sharper eyes than their mother! Now back in London, the pair were rather baffled by grey squirrels...
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[quote]Speaking of badgers, I once saw a badger-like animal crossing the road in Switzerland. No idea what it was, but thought it looked a bit like a wolverine, or a badger in grey / brown. Was driving bac...[/quote]

They do have raccoons in some parts of France - I think they escaped from captivity and bred in the wild.

Could your badger-like creature have been a raccoon (I don't think stone martens look a bit like badgers)?

Valerie

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jan's little Squirrel which didn't come out in her post above

"Spent loads of time last year taking photos of these cuties.  This one is actually pondering how on earth he is going to get the nuts out of the squirrel proof bird feeder.  Mind you he completely wrecked the fat ball I'd put out for the birds to the point where I couldn't even find the netting it came in!!!  Saw the squirrel rummaging in our garden rubbish pile the other week, selecting a few materials and scampering up the pine tree.  I reckon he's sorting out his nest for the winter.  Jan"

 

And what about this fantastic butterfly she has done...

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  • 3 months later...

Here in the Aude we have red squirrels in our garden. Some mornings when we are having our breakfast one runs across our lounge patio window, under the roof, on the roof beam, over the kitchen door and into the ivy on the kitchen wall. All of this about 6 or so feet from where we sit. So far I have never had my camera where I can reach it! But I will. They are lovely little creatures.... They use the rough crepied walls of our house as if they are just strange shaped trees and run all round the house, fantastic to watch!!!

The greys in the U.K. realy are no more than tree rats (duck befor the flack hits) they were imported from the USA about 10 years ago and have caused havoc by ring barking young beech trees, something they don't do in their natural home across the 'pond'. from what I can make out they are not the cause of the demise of the red squiggle because their habitat is different in that they prefer broad leaf trees to the reds pine type trees of the reds. We, human beenz, are the cause of the demise of the reds in the U.K. because we are robbing them of where they live!!!!!!!!! The greys are not to blame, but they should not be there and should be removed (oh hell here comes the bruddie flack agin! Just as well I got a 'ard 'at and fik skin)

John.

P.S. Why on erf has this window gone into overdrive and gone to wide screen? No dolby surround sound yet though  [8-)]?

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Here is a photo I took a couple of weeks ago of a red squrrels drey, it is in between the window shutters and the window.The squirrel comes in and out through a hole in a damaged shutter on the second floor and as you say it skits up the outside wall as if it had anti gravity boots on. Chris.

http://www.planetepassion.com/Red_squirrels_drey.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

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[quote user="Monika"]

the hunters were shooting the whole weekend while we were there. It's surprising anything, apart from worms in the ground, is still alive.

[/quote]

Not really, Monika.   Many of the hunters see two of everything, so there's (at most, and being VERY generous) a 50% chance of the target getting hit.

Goodness knows what they go after round here.  Tiny little birdies, I think.   And probably earthworms!  [;)]

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