Over the past few weeks, squirrels have become more and more noticeable. It doesn’t seem like long ago since they first started to appear on the Chayne after last winter, but then the leaves came out and they vanished again. I would see them for a second along the topstones of a dyke before they vanished again into thicker cover. Now, the leaves are falling and their presence has become obvious.
As well as the fact that they have nowhere to hide, they are also deliberately making themselves extremely conspicuous. They appear in scattered groups of two or three, mining into the soil with frantic little paws to bury beechmast or hazelnuts. Some of them watch my car pass right by them with expressions of haughty arrogance, daring me to interrupt them from their labours.
I recently had a friend up from England who was delighted to see his first ever red squirrels on the road to the Chayne. They have declined to such an enormous extent thanks to the encroaching greys, and each year brings the foreign, disease laden animals closer and closer to Galloway. I hardly notice red squirrels anymore, and I suppose that means I’m extremely lucky to have one of Britain’s last strongholds on my doorstep.