Squirrel Crossing

red squirrel11 a.m, forest track, valley of the Green Field Beck, Langstrothdale . My first thoughts are red squirrel when we glimpse an animal dashing up the bank into the conifer plantation but a few minutes later it runs across the track fifty yards further on and follows the line of a wall before disappearing into the plantation again.

red squirrelIt wasn’t bounding in a sinuous way as I’d expect from squirrel nor did it climb the nearest tree when it saw us coming. Barbara and I both got the impression that it had a bushy tail and neither of us spotted the black-tipped tail that would have identified it as a stoat (there is a reddish form of stoat).

red squirrelIt appeared larger than a stoat anyway, about eighteen inches long. The Green Field valley is a stronghold of the red squirrel but because of this individual’s un-squirrel-like movements and behaviour, I wondered if it could have been a pine marten that had made its way into the valley. It didn’t , as far as we could see, have the face-markings of a polecat, but a polecat doesn’t have a bushy tail.

red squirrelSince I wrote this, we met Simon Phillpot, wildlife photographer, in the riverside hide at Nethergill and he tells us that the red squirrel’s method of travelling across open country from one plantation to another is to follow a wall, which is exactly what this one was doing as it made its way around a recently cleared section of the plantation.

There are no reports of pine martens in the area so that must be what it was; the first red squirrel that I’ve seen in Yorkshire in 30, more like 40, years.

The red squirrels that I’ve been used to seeing on Speyside all have blond tails, which makes them unmistakable.

Link; Simon Phillpot’s Wild Dales Photography


sandpiper preeningsandpiper feedingRiverside hide, Nethergill Farm, Langstrothdale, 3.45p.m.; A common sandpiper preens itself on a rock on the far bank of the beck then it sets off probing along the edge of the river.

It’s joined by a second bird, which trots off up the grassy bank while the first bird continues downstream.

sandpipersA pied wagtail perches on rocks in the beck, flitting out to take invertebrates from amongst the pebbles.

Mole and Weasel

weasel1 p.m.; A weasel scampers along beyond the cattle grid as we take the track from Oughtershaw back to Nethergill.

mole3.15 p.m.; This mole appeared on the grass verge just feet from me by some surface excavations, crossed three of four feet of short grass then vanished, melting away in front of ours eyes, into what must have been a tunnel entrance at the end of a rough patch.


grykeThis gryke gives shelter to the kind of plants that you’d see in a hedgerow or in woodland. A velvety coat of moss on the limestone indicates how far the humid, sheltered zone of the gryke extends. In this particular crevice I noted wild garlic, dogs mercury, meadowsweet and creeping thistle.

A gryke is a crack between the clints (slabs) that make up a limestone pavement.

It might be sheltered for the plants down there but there was a cool breeze blowing down the valley this morning and the slab of limestone that I was sitting on proved surprisingly uncomfortable, even though I was sitting on a thin foam mat, so this is as far as I got with my sketch.