Friday 6 May 2011: When will I grow into these feet?
This morning I went out in the garden to hang some washing, when I caught a flash of movement in our neighbour's large conifer. It was a squirrel, not particularly surprising as they love to come and steal nuts and sunflower seeds from the nearby bird feeders. Then I realised it wasn't alone, and noticed that the second squirrel was much smaller. A baby!
I went inside to fetch my camera, not really expecting them to be there when I got back. But they were!! And as I stood very silent and still, just watching, another three baby squirrels emerged from the shadows. Initially the babies remained well hidden in the deep shade, and despite setting my camera to a very high ISO I couldn't get any shots. The babies were having great fun, skittering up and down the trunk, and chasing each other around.
The mother knew I was there, but I think she had become used to being photographed through the window last winter, so wasn't unduly wary. Eventually she decided that it was time for the babies to go home. I was amazed to see her pick one up by the scruff of the neck and carry it off through the tree branches, down to the bottom of the garden. I tried to follow them, to get a shot, but they stayed well screened by the trees.
I returned to my vigil by the washing line and watched the babies. In a short time the mother returned, and was clearly exhausted, as she had to lie down on a branch of the pear tree for a few moments rest, before going through the whole process with the second baby. I tried and failed to photograph the process once again, but when she came back for the third one I managed to get a single shot of her carrying the baby.
I think she must have left the boldest and strongest baby behind, because when she returned for the last time she didn't try and pick him up, but coaxed him out of the conifer with a gentle chittering sound. She showed him the way through the branches, though he did get a bit distracted by looking at me, and then washing his face, before falling out of the tree onto the ground. He wasn't hurt and was soon re-united with his mum. She gave him a cuddle and he seemed to be aiming for a quick drink of milk, before she led him down the last tree and they both scampered across the lawn towards home.
The boys chose this portrait of the baby squirrel, and it certainly has cuteness in bucketloads! I was particularly taken by the size of its feet. Just like puppies and teenagers, their feet obviously grow first and the rest of them has to catch up! If you want to see any more pictures of the squirrels, you can find them here.
And I'm so chuffed with all the comments on yesterday's caterpillar. I was so tired when I took it that I didn't even bother to get it out of the rearing box, and just sat on the carpet beside it with the camera. Thankfully I'm quite recovered today, though still not caught up with comments!