Red Squirrel in Pine Tree

There's only one reason I'm posting this picture: the obscure red squirrel poking around the tree branches.

A long tangent is probably required to explain why seeing a red squirrel is special.  To put it as shortly as possible: in England (I can't speak for the rest of the British Isles), the red squirrel is declining in numbers because of the "invasion" of the eastern grey squirrel.  Generally, these two species are quite different in the way they live: the red squirrel likes hazel but dislikes acorns, which the grey squirrel prefers; the red squirrel lives in coniferous woodland with reliable cone production and continuous canopy, meaning a sustainable population requires a large amount of unadulterated coniferous forest, while the grey squirrel prefers the opposite - broadleaved woodland interspersed with agricultural land, meaning they aren't as timid as red squirrels and can live in a smaller area.*  Nevertheless, all of this adds up to the grey squirrel being more suited to the modern world, and the red squirrel suffering as a result in territories where they overlap.  (Not only through out-competing, but also the presence of squirrel-pox.)

Red squirrels, already uncommon in urban areas, are becoming increasingly rare, and bringing them from the brink of extinction is an incredibly difficult task, with no easy answers.

And that is why seeing a red squirrel is special, and any time you get the chance to, you should consider stopping and appreciating the moment.

* All of this information is from the paper of a close friend, so blame her if it's incorrect!

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