Monday, November 21, 2022

COP 27 - American Red Squirrel - Snow - Birds

 ".....the signs tell us that the dying birds are the canaries in the coal mine; there's poison in the air, and we'll be next."
Graeme Gibson

COP 27 Climate Conference, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

General tenor of  discussions - Blah, blah, blah.
Deal reached on emissions reduction? - No.
(The inclusion of the powerful lobby of the fossil fuel industry was akin to having invited bank robbers into the vault).
Promises made - many.
Will they be kept? - very unlikely.
The clock continues to tick and we now have eight billion people to place demands on the earth's resources. 
We are doomed!

American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

     Truly, a very appealing little squirrel. Its generic name is interesting, meaning "the steward who sits in the shadow of his tail", the specific epithet is self-explanatory.


     This feisty little creature is about half the size of a grey squirrel, yet never backs down from a quarrel and seems always to come out on top in the event of a conflict. It is an enduring myth that the red squirrel castrates its larger cousin, but in reality actual conflict rarely occurs.
     It scolds everyone and everything that intrudes on its domain and if it has concluded that your backyard is within its territory will hector you noisily and incessantly as soon as you take a seat on the patio.
     With patience you can coax a grey squirrel into eating from your hand, but I have never succeeded with a red squirrel. I am quite sure they would rather starve than make such a concession to humans!


     Clinton Merriam said of the American Red Squirrel, "His inquisitiveness, audacity, inordinate assurance, and exasperating insolence, together with his insatiable love of mischief and shameless disregard of all the ordinary customs and civilities of life, would lead one to believe that he was little entitled to respect."
     Despite this, we are very fond of this little creature and cherish its spunky nature. It's always a pleasure to see it skitter through a patch of autumn leaves; in reality one of the rewards of being a naturalist.
     It is a regular guest in our yard (in fact it probably thinks of us as intruders).
     On the birch.....


     ..... down in the periwinkle


     .....sitting on the back of a chair


     ..... or just going for a stroll.


     American Red Squirrels moult twice a year, wearing two distinct coats, the only constants being the prominent white eye ring and tawny tail.
     Their diet is comprised almost exclusively of seeds and nuts. They are incredibly efficient at gathering and storing food, and much of their time is devoted to this activity.
     In areas where the two co-exist the principal enemy of the red squirrel is the Pine Marten (Martes americana) whose agility enables it to pursue the squirrel through the tree tops. A range of hawks capture their share of squirrels. Owls will not pass up the opportunity to add a squirrel to their diet, but since most owls are nocturnal they are not a serious threat.
     We are fortunate to share our world with this little rodent whose endearing personality is undeniable, like a grumpy old uncle - you know he's grumpy but you love him anyway.


Snow

     Our whole region has had considerable snow recently, although nowhere near the levels endured in the Buffalo, NY, USA area, a mere hour and a half's drive from here. There, parts of the city and its suburbs have been virtually entombed.


     It's hard to believe that just over a week ago we were sitting outside having afternoon tea on the deck. Mea culpa, I neglected to bring the chairs in, or even fold them up, but it does serve to show you how much snow we received. 
     I could tell Miriam that I left them out for this very purpose, but her eyes would roll so far back in her head she might be permanently disabled. 

Our Backyard, Waterloo, ON

    We did attempt a foray out into the countryside but the snow was drifting in areas where trees failed to form a windbreak, so we abandoned our quest and returned home.
     The following pictures are from the backyard, with not much commentary needed from me.

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) - from the file

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) - from the file

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) - from the file

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

     The main impact of the snowstorm is over and we drove to New Hamburg to meet friends for lunch today without any driving difficulties, so we'll be out and about tomorrow to see what we can bring you next time.
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.

56 comments:

  1. ...doing something positive about climate is important, but these gatherings seem to be feel good sessions.

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    Replies
    1. They leave me feeling anything but good.

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    2. Ballistic with rage and despair is a more accurate representation of my feelings.

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  2. Hari OM
    Oh my word, what a wonderul wee visitor to share your property with! I hear you on the fiasco of COP27... and am left in a bout of unfortunate giggles at the vision of Miriam's upturned toes!!! I trust that she will surive and be forgiving. We need her photos! YAM xx

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  3. There was one out there today, chasing every bird in sight - because he/ she could!

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  4. Great Post David, and you said what I am thinking about the failed climate meeting in Egypt. The post about the squirles is wonderful. And what I thougt about the snowfall in your part of the world was indeed the case. All with great photos also of the birds in your garden.
    Take care,
    Roos

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  5. Many of my favorite birds, and you are making me love the red squirrel!

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    Replies
    1. And these birds are easy to see, Joanne, so it's very special that you enjoy them so much.

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  6. As you said - blablabla. I hadn't much hope about COP27 in the first place, so wasn't surprised about its outcome. I don't think that humans are interested in making life on this planet better. On our way to destroy ourselves (ah, the intelligent species...), but just maybe the planet has a fighting chance once we're gone. All that counts is money - and power. I just watched a German documentary series about Qatar called "The World Cup of Shame" and it was truly stomach turning.
    On to much nicer things. We don't have red squirrels, "only" the grey ones, but do I love them! They are sassy and noisy, but so entertaining.

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  7. Love those rascally squirrels! Here the reds will eat out of your hand. One man has them up on his knee taking peanuts from him as he sits on a bench. We can’t take any of these beautiful creatures for granted. I share the experience with my grandchildren every chance I get. Who knows how much longer before conditions are intolerable for many or any species?

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  8. I'm so glad you wrote about the red squirrel today David. I have one who visits, and he/she even knows how to get inside a couple of the feeders so he/she will eat in peace and quiet. I thought he/she was stuck in there, but no, he/she lifts the top and jumps in. And out. Oh yes, if I go outside he/she will scold me from a tree. I like watching him/her though; he/she seems to think through things so much more than the greys do. And winter has arrived, hasn't it? The photos I've seen from Buffalo are mind blowing. Happy new week. Hugs-Erika

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    1. I have had grey squirrels get stuck inside, but not the smaller red squirrels.

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  9. Gosh lots of snow, but I bet it's good when the sun shines. Like those chairs outside, it does show how much snow you had.
    The creatures are beautiful, all of them.

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  10. Thank you again/always for the beauty that you and Miriam capture and share. The beauty that too many of our species are dooming to death.

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  11. Red squirrels are very cute and I love the way they scamper about the woods. Nuthatches are one of my favourite birds. Their ability to feed upside-down is very entertaining.

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  12. Your photos are such a ray of sunshine in this currently depressing world.

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  13. Great pictures of those smaller squirrels with their red tail! Easy to see that the bird you saw in your backyard have good meals regularly :-)
    The photo of the two chair shows that the first snow in November has already covered the backyards.
    Nice post!

    https://giorgiorusso2.blogspot.com/

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  14. Love those feisty little red squirrels. I kept a baby whose eyes hadn't opened yet alive for two weeks before I could get it to a squirrel rehab place 250 miles away. (A girl brought it to me--found on a sidewalk at college.) The rehab lady was shocked I had kept it alive because the red squirrels are very hard to hand feed she said. I found that out right off the bat. They are energetic, greedy, and can swallow too fast so that they get milk coming out their nose. I had fed baby kittens and wild baby cottontail rabbit who lost their mothers before so I had some experience. She said they often get milk in their lungs and then pneumonia and die. I was glad to add the red squirrel to the five kittens and cottontail--all survived! So your pictures are special to me. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks from all of us who love nature for the great work you have done.

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  15. Great post David.
    (The inclusion of the powerful fossil fuel industry lobby was akin to inviting bank robbers into the vault).
    You are right about that, those people should keep them away from a climate summit, everything revolves around money and power, really terrible.
    I love squirrels, great that you have this in your garden, we really need to go on holiday to the wooded area to see squirrels, I live on a lake.
    I enjoyed your photos again.
    Greetings Irma

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    Replies
    1. Greed will be our undoing - has already become our undoing in fact.

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  16. Yes, I guess we are all doomed. The climate changes does not stop at all.
    Very beautiful photos of very cute squirrels and birds, David! I love them all. Here we have only one red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris.
    I have read about the snowfall in Buffalo, and I'm glad you didn't get so much snow at your place.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

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    1. I have only ever see one Sciurus vulgaris, Marit, and even then for just a brief moment in Scotland. They are beautiful! Hugs and kisses - David

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  17. Hi David,
    The climate conference surely was a disappointment. Talking and talking, but no real result. Everybody is convinced of the necessity of effective steps, but there wasn't any initiative to take the lead in doing what is necessary to save the world.
    The squirrel is cute. You are lucky with such a visitor in your garden. And the amount of snow is already impresssing. A huge difference with the West of Europe where it becomes colder but with a lot of rain instead of snow.
    Greetings, Kees

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    1. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all, Kees, is that we have come to expect disappointment. The surprise will be when something concrete is achieved. Now we have to watch out for a nuclear power plant in Ukraine too.

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  18. Yes, we are doomed. That was quite the storm. We had 2 cm!

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  19. Hello,
    It is a shame about the COP 27, a waste of time. You have a lot of snow there, the birds are happy coming to your feeders. Beautiful photos. Take care, have a wonderful day!

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    1. "A waste of time in an understatement," Eileen. It's a disaster for all humanity that we cannot tackle this issue seriously, and what we inflict on ourselves will affect everything else that lives and breathes. How tragic. It's an unbridled level of arrogance and disregard for life itself.

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  20. I am inclined to agree with you, we are doomed, I feel very sorry for the next generation, if they survive they will miss so much of what we have enjoyed.

    Lovely set of photos, the American Red Squirrel is obviously much more aggressive than our European Red Squirrel. I also like the little ear tufts on the ERS, it somehow makes them very cute.

    Your Goldfinch is also very different to our European one. 'Ours' appears to to be more colourful with its red head.

    Have a good week and keep warm that snow looks a bit too cold for me!! Cheers Diane

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  21. The red squirrels are indeed delightful creatures and I love watching them stuffing nuts into their mouths and storing them in their cheeks. I'm glad we haven't had snow yet. Have a great day, take care big hugs, Valerie

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  22. I've never seen a red squirrel in the fur, only the gray and fox varieties. Your pictures show them to be quite adorable, although I think they might object to that adjective.

    I'm less pessimistic than you and most of your readers about the climate talks. Talking and acknowledging the problem are part of the process and if it spurs even a little positive action it will have been worth it. We didn't get where we are in a day and, short of destroying all of our species and allowing the planet to recover from the human virus, the cure will be a long process. Any forward action should be encouraged not denigrated.

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    1. It's good to be optimistic, Dorothy, but realism and optimism are often not the same thing. I agree that forward ACTION should be encouraged, but where is the action?

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  23. Yes, we are doomed and it is a bunch of blah blah blah. I have never seen a red squirrel in my part of Florida. Where do they tend to live?

    Love,
    Janie

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    Replies
    1. You have several species of squirrel in Florida, but not the one described above, which is a northern species, not found so far south.

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  24. I love the wonderful photos of your charming squirrel(s) much more than the COP27 "news" (which is no news.) Depressing. I'm glad we have the squirrels. They're just so much fun. Your photos -- as always -- are fabulous!

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  25. I must admit that I am not a fan of squirrels as they remind me of rats with bushy tails, but your photos are a delight.

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  26. I don't know if you are familiar with the term 'cop-out', David, or whether it's only used this side of the pond. The disctionary definition is "to avoid doing something that you should do or that you have promised to do because you are frightened, shy, or you think it is too difficult ". These talks should be renamed COP-OUT 27.

    Much enjoyed your account of the American Red Squirrel. I've had Red Squirrels in Switzerland take hazelnuts from my hand and sit beside me to eat them - one of my most memorable Swiss experiences!

    Your snow scenes are making me feel quite cold!

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

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    1. Cop-out is a familiar term, Richard, and certainly applies to this last blabberfest.

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  27. Pienso como tu querido amigo David, hablan y hablan y no se ponen de acuerdo. Aquí está lloviendo y hace frío, no suele nevar por aquí, cuando cae la nieve nos da mucha alegría. Esa ardilla roja me encanta. Un abrazo.

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  28. I do love your writing on this post about the red squirrel and the snow, very fun to read. Great photos of your wildlife, in what I suspect is early winter for you, while we are still in a rather harsh fall.

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  29. The conference was a fiasco from what I have read and you have posted, David. Perhaps the world would be a better place if ruled by animals? The ones in this post were such spunky critters. The red squirrel was a great photo subject too. We have not had any snow yet and just within the past couple of weeks, temperatures finally cooled down. Global warming is indeed here in New England as well.

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  30. The COP 27 sadly has proven to be a waste of time, I guess they would never admit that. Never seen a red squirrel but they are attractive. Excellent photos as always!

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  31. Buenas tardes, amigo David, he disfrutado con la ardilla roja americana, no sabía yo las cualidades y bravura de ese pequeño mamífero, casi mejor no entrometerse en su vida y dejarle hacer a su aire. Sin embargo su imagen es agradable e incluso simpatica.
    El pájaro que me encanta es el Junco de ojos oscuros, es precioso y tiene muy buen porte, ya lo había visto en otras ocasiones, pero cada vez que le veo me gusta más.
    Ya tenéis la nieve y por lo que he podido ver bastante. Aquí durante el día seguimos más o menos con buen clima, las mañanas y las noches son algo más frescas pero en general poca cosa.
    Recibir un fuerte abrazo de vuestro amigo y tocayo Juan.

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  32. Hi David.

    How much snow have you already received.
    Nice birds.
    How cute is this Squirrel.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  33. True, all the blah blah blah, but they don't take any concrete action.
    The red squirrel is beautiful, a tireless worker and what good photos you have taken of her.
    It is very beautiful to see the snow, the white winter has its charm.
    Lots of hugs and kisses.

    Cierto, todo el bla, bla, bla, pero no toman medidas concretas.
    Preciosa la ardilla roja, trabajadora incansable y que buenas fotos has hecho de ella.
    Muy hermoso es ver la nieve, el blanco invierno tiene su encanto.
    Muchos besos y abrazos.

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  34. That is an interesting looking squirrel. Ohh you can keep all that snow over there. LOL Have a great day today.

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  35. I do agree with you when you say "very appealing little squirrel" ... I did enjoy seeing the lovely photographs of your garden/yard visitor.
    Also enjoyed seeing the birds too.

    Enjoy this last week of November.

    All the best Jan.

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  36. Adorable little squirrels! I’m not sure we are doomed, but I think our population will be reduced in ways that seem very cruel. Nature has no mercy.

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  37. Kestrel here, still trying to get my name back!! I am back to better days, took a 1h walk and just breathe. So grateful to be well again. I think we have only one type of squirrel here, brown! The ones in your pix have lovely red tails and squirrels remind of of mischief. Unfortunately I am not the only one who loves squirrels, Thory likes to chase them. So the ones in my garden have gotten wise - they run on the ledges above or in the drains below the grates where Thory cannot get them. Birds and snow together remind me that Cmas is coming.

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  38. Hi David - the American Red Squirrel is a delight to see - how wonderful to have him/her in your garden ... while that snow - I'm glad it's gone for now and you were able to get out and about to meet friends ... lovely ... cheers Hilary

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  39. HI David,
    You have beautiful birds in the garden and Squirrels..... In my childhood I could see the squirrels cicling around a tree. from my bed through the window. They gave me forever happiness in my heart. Miriam captured them very well! Seriously lots of snow!
    Big hug, Maria

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  40. Hi David, Although Thanksgiving has come and gone in Canada, I appreciate you stopping by my blog today with kind (USA) Thanksgiving Day wishes. I can assure you the Canada goose is NOT on the menu for today’s big dinner. 😊 As always, congrats on another fine post with lots of neat photos! John

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  41. Glad we missed the Buffalo snow in Toronto. Cute photos today.

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  42. This American red squirrel is a little plush that you want to cuddle. His little paws are adorable.
    The Eastern Grey Squirrel looks more like a big ermine, doesn't he? It is probably its position on the tree.
    Again the birds in your yard are all very very beautiful.
    Brambling, a species that winters in France, arrived today. The lucky one is a female ;-)

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