“Redsquirrel eating 2012” by Paul Whippey
Beatrix Potter published The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin in 1903. It relates the story of a cheeky squirrel who narrowly escapes with his life after unwisely winding up the local owl. The story is set in and around Derwentwater in Cumbria, an area that is very special to me as it was to Potter, and I was there on holiday again last week when I saw my first red squirrel.
It was dashing through the undergrowth, too fast and too well-disguised for me to take a photograph, but nevertheless I was pleased, after nearly 41 years on this earth, to see a “tufty” for the first time. Since the introduction of the eastern grey, and the loss of much of its habitat, the native red squirrel has disappeared from a lot of Britain, but still clings on in Scotland and some areas of England, including Cumbria. With various conservation projects dedicated to protecting this beautiful animal, its future looks secure, and I’m pretty hopeful this won’t be the last time I see one in the wild.