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Squirrelling Away Your Nuts... Or Something


Pharisee
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We all spend a considerable amount of our ‘caching time’ wandering through areas of woodland as this is prime caching country. Squirrels are probably the most common woodland creature that we see but has anyone else noticed that the ‘black’ grey squirrel seems to be a lot more common than it used to be? I’ve seen a dozen or more this year in various lumps of woodland. The last, this afternoon, right next to the Ollies’s Trivia –BROWN cache wasn’t just dark grey; it was jet black from its nose to the tip of its tail.

Can anyone tell me if these are a different sub-species or just colour mutation of the bog-standard grey jobbie.

Personally, I suspect that it’s a perfect example of Darwinian evolution allowing them to blend more easily into areas of our country that have been ‘colonised’ by ethnic minorities. :laughing:

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Albinism and melanism are common mutations in all mammal species and once in a population, if recessive (as they usually are) then a few white or black individuals will appear in each generation. It is the same principle as the way Multiple Sclerosis is inhereted in humans.

 

Normally in nature colour mutations make an animal stand out so it becomes vulnerable to predators. This means that although the carriers carry on passing o nthe gen, animals that inheret it from both parents are less likely to live t oadulthood, and so the incidence of the mutatio nstays low. However, grey squirrels have few predators in the UK, and melanistic mutations may actually be advantrageous in denser forests. For this reason I would expect there to be significant numbers of these mutations popping up, although white is likely to be less common than melanistic because white animals will stand out in woodland.

 

As a matter of interest, white spotting is also a very common mammalian mutation (see Graham Norton for a human example) - I would be surprised if there were not grey squirrels with white head spots, or white snouts.

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Squirrels - the original geocachers.squirr2.gif Mr B says there's been a population explosion of grey ones this summer in our local country park...not seen any black or white ones yet. About 3pm flurry of activity in the Blorenge back garden ... sparrowhawk swooped onto our birdtable...but missed! He then perched casually on the corner of the garage roof for a couple of minutes, surveying the deserted garden. We've seen them in our garden several times over the last few months - becoming more "urbanised"? raven.gif Mrs B

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I know Letchworth is famed for it's black squirrel population, can't find many links about them, but the NHDC website had this to say:

 

"...these areas house Letchworth's famous black squirrels. First sighted in 1944, these truly black squirrels are found only within four miles o f the town centre. They have featured on national television on several occasions, and a local public house is named after them."

 

(EDIT - lots of information on other sightings here too)

Edited by lordelph
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:laughing: All grey squirrels should be dealt with the hard way,if only people realized what damage they do!!! :o:P

I know everyone sees them as cuddly little grey things but they are only tree rats.

That they may be? I suppose that would make humans the parasites of Earth?

 

I bet we (as in the human race) cause more damage than those little cuddly tree rats :P

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:laughing: All grey squirrels should be dealt with the hard way,if only people realized what damage they do!!! :o  :P

I know everyone sees them as cuddly little grey things but they are only tree rats.

That they may be? I suppose that would make humans the parasites of Earth?

 

I bet we (as in the human race) cause more damage than those little cuddly tree rats :P

:P I know up in your part of the country you still have red squirrels,lets see if you feel the same when the tree rats drive them out!! :P

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I've lived in Keswick for 5 years now. I'll never forget the first time I saw a red, I was over the moon! :laughing:

 

Over the past 3 years I've seen a steady rise in Greys, I saw one the other day when I went to set a cache (no advertising this time!) I contacted Red Alert a local watch scheme set up by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and they suggested taking out an air rifle as they are classed as vermin. :o

 

Seems a bit harsh but I'd hate to see the reds disappear....

Edited by The Golem
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:laughing: I know up in your part of the country you still have red squirrels,lets see if you feel the same when the tree rats drive them out!! :o

My part of the country they are very much grey, it's further up north such as the Highlands that there are reds, and it would be sad to see them go.

It was MAN that decided to bring them to this country, which is the cause of the demise of the reds.

 

So yet again it is the fault of the parasite known as the human race.

 

One day the world may wake up and realise that we are killing our home, and have not helped in the extinction of many species, but I for one won't be holding my breath.

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When I was out caching today.. I was wandering down the side of the River Teign - When I'm pretty certain I saw an otter.

 

Is this a) Possible? :laughing: Likely?

 

If not what else might it have been?

We went canoeing on Loch Etive a few weeks ago and saw a pair of otters. We also watched dolphins jumping in the bow wave of the ferry.:o

Apparently there are otters on the River Derwent about half a mile from home.(I've never seen them although we did find a likely looking footprint once!)

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We all spend a considerable amount of our ‘caching time’ wandering through areas of woodland as this is prime caching country. Squirrels are probably the most common woodland creature that we see but has anyone else noticed that the ‘black’ grey squirrel seems to be a lot more common than it used to be? I’ve seen a dozen or more this year in various lumps of woodland. The last, this afternoon, right next to the Ollies’s Trivia –BROWN cache wasn’t just dark grey; it was jet black from its nose to the tip of its tail.

Can anyone tell me if these are a different sub-species or just colour mutation of the bog-standard grey jobbie.

Personally, I suspect that it’s a perfect example of Darwinian evolution allowing them to blend more easily into areas of our country that have been ‘colonised’ by ethnic minorities.  :laughing:

John, there was an article in the Daily Mail - Black Squirrel recently about a black squirrel spotted in Stevenage, quite close to your drum. :o

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Birdman-of-liskatraz wrote:

When I was out caching today.. I was wandering down the side of the River Teign - When I'm pretty certain I saw an otter.

Otters and mink can both be found on the Teign, but if it was in daylight it was probably a mink - they're much more often seen in daylight than otters. Mink are smaller than otters - a mink is two foot long at most from nose to tip of tail, while an otter can be twice that length.

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I did hear the other day someone was pushing to reintroduce wolves and wild boar back into the Highlands! I think it's something to do with Trees for Life.

(Just a rumour I heard, can't say for definite...)

It's true...

 

"Paul Lister, the millionaire heir to the MFI DIY chain, wants to reintroduce the lynx, along with other animals extinct in Scotland for centuries such as the grey wolf and brown bear, at his Alladale estate near the Dornoch Firth."

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Another local black squirrel spotting spot (spotting spot?? can I say that??) is/was at the Red Lion in Kensworth, there was a small colony there a few years back, but as we haven't been there for a while, can't say for certain if they are still there.

 

... what more could you ask for John? a chance for a pint and to see a black squirrel ... or the chance to see a black sqiurrel and have a pint! :o

Edited by choccymandm
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Otters are staging a comeback due to improving quality of water in rivers. They are exceedingly sensitive to the toxins we introduced and since the big clean ups and improved EU standards imposed otters have ben returning to the rivers.

Birds of prey also suffered from this due to a capacity to retain mercury which was leaching up the food chain. Remember to dispose of watch batteries responsibly.

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I was born in Hitchin, N Herts (near to Letchworth - see lordelph's post above) and we used to regularly see black squirrels in our garden. There's even a pub in Letchworth called "The Black Squirrel".

 

Then I moved down to Hampshire where I used to put food out for two white squirrels who regularly visited my garden. I assume they were albino.

 

Then I moved to Germany where we used to have red squirrels in the garden. They are smaller than the greys and have tufts of fur on their ears.

 

So, I've seen grey, black, white AND red squirrels! :signalviolin:

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On a recent caching expedition in tarvin cheshire, cassie dog and i startled a Buzzard, which was quietly disembowling and devouring it's breakfast (it looked like a hedgehog, i think) in the field we were crossing,on the way to the barrow of tar cache

 

I find these raptors really enjoyable to watch and the population appears to be increasing greatly in recent years, cannot remember them at all from my youth 15 year ago but now see them soaring all over this part of cheshire,

 

Love watching the red kites when in n.wales too

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Almost looked like a black squirrell myself after doing your Venus cache!!!! ;)

 

Know about the black squirrells in Letchworth, but they have now spread over to me Shefford (close enough). Was always told they were sort of "mutant" grey. Saw one dead on the road just past the hangars as Cardington a few days ago, so they are spreading ;)

 

Cheers

 

Nick

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Around Surrey, particulary Richmond Park, Painshill Park in Cobham and Epsom Common, there are an increasing number of green parakeets!

 

Accordingly to local RSBP, they stem from a pair that escaped (or were released) and have aclimatised and bred!

 

Taking over like the grey squirrels..... ;)

;) Now, if we can just get the parakeets which live in the parks to cross-breed with the red kites we can have raptorial parakeets swooping down and carrying off surplus grey squirrels: Problem solved. :D Mrs B

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