Saturday, July 30, 2011

Red v. Grey Squirrel

 A Red Squirrel Road Sign in Ravenstonedale

As we headed into Ravenstonedale on day 6 of the Coast to Coast walk we saw a number of signs about the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). In a nutshell (!), the population of these mohawked-eared cuties has decreased because of the introduction of the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), an American cousin. The grey squirrel out-competes the red squirrel for a number of reasons including: 1) the grey squirrel can readily eat acorns and the red squirrel can’t and there are a lot of oak trees; 2) the grey squirrel carries a disease that is often fatal to red squirrels; and 3) the red squirrels don’t breed as much when under pressure. More information can be found at the Northern Red Squirrels Site that works to support the reds and the Save Our Squirrels site which has some great information sheets about the plight of the reds.

Telling the Difference Between the Red and Grey Squirrel [ref]

From a book I read, The Diversity of Life, I remember reading that species that have evolved to specialized environments are in general more vulnerable to extinction than less specialized species. The reference to “black spot” in one of the photos, I believe, means a place in the road that is dangerous for squirrels, i.e. they get run over. As for grey squirrels, it is legal to kill them in the UK.

While we are talking about Ravenstonedale and on to more pleasant subjects, I must say that I had a great stay at the Old Vicarage. Tea and cake at 5:30 when I arrived. Most of our group stayed at the Black Swan, also very nice, but, the vicarage was just right for me.

Tea and Cake at the Old Vicarage, Ravenstonedale
Tea and Cake at the Old Vicarage - Ravenstonedale

Day 4:  July 27 Rosthwaite to Glenridding; this sign spotted heading out of Grasmere

Day 5: July 28 Lake ullswater to Shap; this sign spotted near Bampton

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