Tag Archives: Squirrel

Nuts on Wheels


Batman has the Batmobile.  It is only fitting that the Lone Grey Squirrel has some hot wheels too.  Many thanks to Susan (Guilty with an Explanation) for sending these photos of the “Squirrel Cruiser” which was spotted in San Francisco.

While I am happy that these photos prove that I am not the only nut out there with a squirrel obsession, but dude/dudette, did the car have to be “pink”?

 

Changing of the Guard


Well, first let me thank you guys and gals for taking part in the poll for Canada’s animal symbol a couple of posts ago.  The Grey Squirrel won with 5 votes; the polar bear and the moose had two votes each while the beaver, the Sasquatch and the toothless hockey player each earned a sympathy vote each.  I immediately sent the results to the Canadian Parliament but have so far heard nothing from them.

Now let’s get on with this post.

I have been blogging for just over 5 years now.  This blog like the blogger, is not spring chicken anymore.  Yet for most of that time, my avatar, my public image has been the  image below.

See that youthful face?  Doesn’t that face seem full of youthful curiosity and enthusiasm and perhaps hopeful naivety?   Well, 5 years on, life experiences and recent world history has caused me to lose a lot of that curiosity and enthusiasm.  I’m sorry to say that I have become a little jaded.

As a result, I thought it was time to update my profile image.   I think the image below may be quite appropriate.

Headache, headache, headache, HEADACHE!!!!

Unburied Nuts from 11th December 2007: “Scratches the Gypsy”


Squirrels often bury their nuts and when needed, unearth them once again for consumption. On that flimsy excuse, I occasionally re-post something from the earlier stages of this blog which I think deserves a second chance in the limelight.  It’s been awhile since we had a squirrel post, so I am re-visiting my squirrel sweetheart.

Scratches the Gypsy

Enchantress by Andrew Artoshenko

It has been awhile since I wrote about the world of squirrels that I encountered in Paradise. To recap, there was the original rapscallion, the everyman squirrel “Spikey”, then I spoke of his nemesis, the big muscular bully “Speedy” and then I introduced Spikey’s love interest and in fact mate, “Loonie”.

The next squirrel I met was a young female. It was late autumn and I was walking through my small garden when I heard a squirrel barking off an alarm from the small tree at the corner by the sidewalk. I looked to see if it was Spikey but it was not. Instead, I saw a scrawny squirrel on the trunk of the tree with its head facing ground-wards. Just a few feet below and pacing excitedly was the landlady’s Persian cat. The two of them were staring each other down.

I am sure it comes as no surprise that I responded immediately by shoo-ing the cat away. Being an aristocratic Persian, it did not run away but kind of sauntered away casually as if to imply “I was getting bored anyway.”

Both the squirrel and I watched the cat disappear round the corner and into the house. When that happened, suddenly the squirrel came down the tree until we were at the same level, “face to face” as it were. She lifted her head towards mine, our noses just inches apart and she scrutinised me. I, in turn had a good look at her.

She was much smaller than Spikey, scrawny even. Her fur was not even and in some parts appeared mangy and bare. It gave the impression that she scratched herself until the fur fell out. However, these patches did look old and new fur were already growing round the edges. Nevertheless, I dubbed her “Scratches”.

Scratches had a very distinct personality. My relationship with her seemed quite established from that first meeting. Whenever, there was a cat around, she would climb a tree, call out her alarm and wait for me to answer her call and come out to rescue her from her feline taunter. She soon figured out that I was at her beck and call.

Her relationship with Spikey was also interesting. I don’t think they were related but Spikey being the gentleman probably tolerated her presence. She did not cramp his style. He would shamelessly go into his dance and begging routine to get peanuts from me even when she was around. Interestingly, although Scratches would also take peanuts from me, she demurred to Spikey when he was around and kept her distance.

However, what she did do was to follow Spikey around once he got the peanut. Spikey would often hop around the garden with his peanut, sniffing the air before deciding where to bury the peanut. Scratches would follow him at a respectable distance of a few hops. Spikey would then bury the nut and return to me for another. Scratches would then dig up Spikey’s nut and eat it.

She reminded me a bit of a alluring gypsy girl. Wild, spirited – a blatant thief and yet you feel good that she stole from you.

She also expected me to give her undivided attention at times. Sometimes when we were in the garden together but I was not paying attention to her as when I was birdwatching, reading or quite likely sleeping, she would put her teeth round the back of my exposed ankles and bite gently but with increasing pressure until I responded to her.

In a way, she was closer to me than even Spikey. One cold winter morning, I came out of my hobbit-like apartment and into a winter wonderland of freshly fallen snow. I was off to the bus stop to catch my ride to work. However, Scratches was up and about too that early morning. When she saw me, she barked a greeting. I said “Hi” and proceeded to trundle my way down the road.

Scratches came down the tree and ran after me, caught up and gave notice of her presence by trying to get her teeth round my ankles. I paused turn round and told her to go back and then started off again to the bus stop. Scratches ran after me again. Again I stopped and told her to go back. Anyway, I kept walking and to my surprise Scratches walked along with me. She was following me to work!

I had to stop make a U-turn and lead Scratches back to the apartment. I went in. Got her some peanuts and then said goodbye and went off again to the bus stop. This time she did not follow but with peanut in hands, she climbed a tree and watched me go off.

I felt great and I had a super day after that. I felt like I had come under the spell of the gypsy squirrel – the Enchantress.

Unburied Nuts from 23rd December 2007: “Not a Creature was Stirring”


Squirrels love to bury their precious nuts so as to uncover them later to enjoy at leisure. In the same way, this blog, from time to time, brings an old post back for another short period in the sun. This one happens to be one of my earliest post.

What Creature Stirred and Left These Mysterious Trails….



photocredits: Deep river

“Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse……..”

(Excerpt from poem by Clement Clarke Moore; 1822)

Snow had fallen thickly during the night and the wind had blown fiercely with its own melancholic howling through the trees. I was glad to have been tucked in bed that night safe and snug. Christmas was a couple of days away and when I drifted off to sleep, I was soon in a dream world filled with the visions of the expected wonders of warm fellowship and the joys of the season.

I awoke the early the next day while the morning light was still dim, feeling fully rested and fresh. I excitedly went to my small basement window and as expected the night’s storm had dusted everything with an inch or two of snow, creating a wonderland. The distant streetlamps were still able to cast sufficient light on the newly fallen snow that everything seemed to sparkle like diamonds.

It was then I realized that someone had already been up and about before my eyes had opened to the new day. Just in front of the window was a wooden walkway and a small bush. Both were coated in snow but clearly visible all around them were tiny tracks.  Spikey had already come by.

Grey Squirrels do not hibernate. They remain active during winter and are most active during the daytime when it is warmer. I had continued to feed Spikey during winter with nuts. Initially, I left them in a pile on the wooden walkway. However, I soon realized this exposed the poor creature to the blowing wind. I eventually found a large rock that was suitable as a feeding table because it had a shallow hollow on its top surface which was ideal for placing the nuts. I placed it next to a small bush.

I had chosen the bush because its network of leaves and branches created a scaffold for the snow to layer upon creating a snow igloo of sorts with the interior spacious and ice-free.  Spikey was able to enter and shelter under the snow-covered bush and feed while reasonably protected by the elements. The bush was also within easy view of my window which enabled me to observe squirrel behavior throughout the winter.

At the Feeding Station

photocredit: drroz2


Drawing from Anonymous. Animal Tracks, Stackpole Co., 1954.

The tracks of the grey squirrel in the snow is fairly easy to recognize and has been described as the double exclamation marks, “!!”. This pattern stems from the gait of the squirrel who first plants its two small front paws in the snow and pushes himself forward before his hind legs land in the snow, just ahead of where the front paws first was planted. The long strokes of the double exclamation mark is made by the relatively long hind paws while the front paws provide the periods for the exclamation mark.

For me, seeing a trail of “!!” was a real heart warmer on a cold winter’s morning.

Danger Squirrel


Recently I posted about the use of animals such as bears, geese and raccoons by Canadian criminals.  However when I suggested that squirrels could be used as dangerous weapons, some of you readers thought it was funny.  Yes, some of you did not seem to understand the danger squirrels pose.  Only Owen knew better than to diss the squirrel mafia.

So I decided to educate the gentle readers of this blog before they inadvertently provoke a dangerous squirrel out of ignorance.  Please watch the following educational videos but be warned………..you may never look at squirrels in the same way again.

Banff Squirrel


What else could I be posting about if not about this now infamous Columbian Ground Squirrel? The story is that two British tourists visiting Lake Minnewanka in beautiful Banff national Park, Canada, wanted to take a photo of themselves with the lake and mountains in the background. They placed their camera on some rocks and set it to take the photo on timer.

However, attracted by the sound of the timer, this squirrel pops up just at the right time to crash the photo. The couple were so amused by this photo, they posted it on the National Geographic website and from there, the squirrel photo has made it round the world. In fact, the squirrel is now appearing in other photos too.

He is now a global celebrity. Way to go, brother.

Basic Squirrel 101


Today, a work colleague came up to ask me to identify a squirrel. He said that he heard that I was into squirrels. I was taken aback. Evidently my secret identity as the Lone Grey Squirrel was not so secret after all and someone has made the connection between my internet alter ego and my real identity. Hmmmm. In hindsight, I’m so glad I decided against posting up the photo of me dressed as a squirrel wearing only a red underwear and a cape. Those things have a way of coming back to haunt you.

The other reason I was taken aback was that I did not know the answer! Shock horror! Anyway, I did a little research but I think I now know the answer. Apparently, he took a photograph of a squirrel which he thought was a plantain squirrel (which is common in these parts) but whereas the plantain squirrel was marked, this was not marked. His question was what squirrel looks like an unmarked plantain squirrel.

THE ANSWER: PLANTAIN vs PLAIN
The Plantain Squirrel has a grey body and a light brown belly with a white and a black stripe between the two. The plain Slender Squirrel is slightly smaller has a grey body and a pale belly and no markings.


Anyway, since there has been a lot of interest on squirrels lately from readers and visitors to this blog, I have decided to provide a basic introduction to the world of squirrels or Squirrel 101.

SQUIRREL 101:
There are 365 species of squirrel (one for each day of the year!) which belong to seven families. They can be roughly divided into tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. Grey squirrels are tree squirrels and the only group worth discussing further. Ground squirrels may be cute clowns but basically they have become confused between burying nuts in the ground and burying themselves in the ground. On the other hand, flying squirrels are just a bunch of self-absorbed show-offs. So we will now just concentrate on Tree Squirrels.

Tree Squirrels can also be divided into several main groups.

Grey Squirrels
Originally from North America (ranging from the Deep South and all the way to Canada), the grey squirrel has made its way to U.K. and even Italy where they are out competing the local squirrels due to their strong work ethic and cuteness. Grey Squirrels are the liberals and moderates of the squirrel world. Grey squirrels mantra is that “There is no black or white. Instead much of life is grey”. Grey squirrels really range from pepper and salt color, all the way to melanistic black. The paler squirrels are in the Deep South while most of the black squirrels are in Canada. The reason for this is unclear but some say that this is due to the large number of black slave squirrels that were smuggled to freedom in Canada by the Underground Railway in the 19th century.

Red Squirrels
Red Squirrels are found in many parts of the world but the populations of major importance are found in Europe. The European Reds are basically protectionists, left wing, communist unionists who are always protesting about the more hard working Greys!

British Reds have similar political positions but they are better characterised by other major characteristics. Specifically, English Reds are basically soccer fans. Some support the “Reds” (i.e. Liverpool) while others support the “Red Devils” (i.e. Manchester United).

Scottish Reds instead are more concerned with Scottish independence being as they are the proud descendents of the original red-haired Pict squirrels, begorrah. These squirrels were never defeated by the Roman Legions!

Non-Aligned Squirrels
The remaining world squirrels can basically non-aligned, apolitical, third world, hard working squirrels with low carbon pawprints. They are just happy to be left alone and undisturbed.

Disclaimer: No squirrels were injured in this parody. The only thing hurt was the truth.

Interlude


The Lone Grey Squirrel, he isn’t here.
The tracks are old and the nuts untouched
He’s not zipping around in high gear
Enquiries have so far not uncovered much

They search for him high
They search for him low
O how they search, how they try
To discover where did that rodent go.

The nut mines, he escaped this week
Taking an opportunity to break free
This LGS whom some readers may seek
Has gone to try the beaches of Bali.

Comments, Numskulls and Punk Squirrels



Many moons ago, when I did a post on comics, gledwood asked if I read any British comics. Sure enough I did grow up with a steady intellectual diet of British comics and one particular strip was called the Numbskulls. The Numbskulls are the tiny men inside us that work in the brain department, the ear department, the stomach department etc. The top guy, “Brain” tries to get every Numbskull in every department to work together and get their human to actually achieve things.

Well, I have had a rare weekend of actually resting and no work whatsoever. The result was I slept through to noon on both Saturday and Sunday. Maybe, I was more tired than I thought. Anyway, all this sleeping has only made me even more lazy and dopey (that’s right! even more dopey than normal!). So, I find myself now, looking at the Blog screen and find that my creative Numbskull is still dozing off somewhere and not answering the call to duty. In fact the only persona active in my brain at the moment is my Neanderthal Numbskull. With no other choice, I consulted him and he said,”Nguh! UHH! Oo-gah! Nguh! Nya! Oog!”

Neanderthal Numbskull notes that some of you had comments about the music in my life.
Leslie thinks I need more Rock and Roll ala Jerry Lee Lewis. Ivan thinks I need to have more grit and become more hip and has directed me to John Prine and his soulful Country style. Eastcoastdweller feels I am neglecting my patriotic duty and should be writing and promoting songs about squirrels. Neanderthal Numbskull hates so many comments with differing views. It gives him a headache. So please take the poll on the sidebar so that Neaderthal Numbskull can cope with just one answer.

So with the cupboard totally bare, being completely uninspired and taking advice from Neanderthal Numbskull, I have decided to answer eastcoastdweller’s request for more songs for the squirrel tribe. The big advantage is that I am just copying what someone who is more creative has already done. Neanderthal Numbskull says it is called “Pla-guh Ri Sin.” That might have meant something to my Scientific numbskull but he fell asleep ages ago contemplating simple harmonic motion. Neanderthal Numbskull says squirrel music not so different from the good ol’ prehistoric caveman days. Enjoy.

For the latest Squirrel Music Video, press here.