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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Yup! More Time Out!

This will be the last trip for a while...maybe until MY birthday treat in September...maybe not!
We were on the road again this week...very tiring!
Way back in 2008 I wrote about my trip to Belfast Zoo, you can read it here if you would like to get the background details to this post.
Very briefly (much more fun to go back and read tat post tho'.....the house elf donned one of his other hats and transformed into Conservation Elf.....for the annual Research meeting at Belfast Zoo.
The roads are fantastic now, if very boring.....motorway...including 4 toll roads all the way to Belfast.

Compared to the beautiful dry spring like weather of last week, this drive was like going back into winter. It rained most of the time.
After an overnight stay in Belfast and a mornings shopping .....more beads of course....and a delightful find in my constant search for hangers to display my tatting.
A Silver and Crystal Jewellery Tree from Past Times......

Then it was off to the Zoo. It was bitterly cold and rainy so I didn't see much of the animals this year.....I never even got to write a post about our great trip north last year...what a would have enjoyed it.
There were a couple of new gigantic wood carvings.

 Ring tailed lemurs....
this fabulous Meercat......don't think he is a wood carving.
There were some interesting conservation presentation.  
The most interesting to me was about our native Red Squirrel. 
The Red Squirrel is  quite a bit smaller that the grey with a bushier tail and furry ear tufts.
You may not know this but the Grey Squirrel was introduced into Ireland from North America in 1911 at a wedding party in an estate in Co Longford! No doubt it was very appealing...
During the last 100 years they have been spreading all over Ireland.
Although the Grey Squirrel is a very pretty animal it is regarded as a pest in Ireland.
It is bigger, more adaptable, and more aggresive that the Red.
It can eat the tougher acorns and beech nuts.
But it can also eat the favourite food of the Red Squirrel...hazel nuts, when they are not ripe enough for the Red to eat.

Thus in every area that the Grey moves out competes the Red.
That together with constant reduction in the available hazel woodlands means that the Red is doomed!
Many conservation groups have been set up to help the little squirrel....particularly to provide food in the if the squirrel is not well fed it does not reproduce in the spring.
They set up cages with food inside and an entrance only large enough for the Red to enter.
the poor little Red also catches the squirrel pox virus that the Grey is often immune to.

The Grey Squirrel is only about 50 miles from our area and will no doubt arrive within the next 10 to 20 years.
The beautiful dainty, little Red Squirrels which have been in Ireland on and off since the Ice Age still inhabit our Wildlife Park.
Now that I am dyeing brown threads, I have no excuse not to dye one to tat a Red Squirrel...the beautiful Squirrel tatted by Tatman comes to mind.....well it never actually left my mind...was always on my 'to do' list. Anybody know any more Squirrel patterns....I have the one in Inga Madsen's Animal book.
Read all about the fate of the Red Squirrel here, this was the very area we were in last week and we saw the Greys.

More about the rest of my trip tomorrow.


  1. Liam in NYC is fascinated with the abundance of our Black Squirrels - we have more of them than the Grey or Red. Also the Reds here do not seem to have those marvellous ear tufts! The Greys are the biggest and look very chubby and furry next to the skinny Blacks and Reds.

    That Meercat is amazing! Good for the city planners for allowing the placement of such a 'road-ent'!

    Looks like a fun trip! Maybe tiring, but most unusual and exotic-sounding to some of us!
    ♥ Fox : )

  2. Hi Fox, Well the Meercat is at the entrance to the Zoo...private property, did you look at the other sculptures that I showed last time.
    I have never heard of Black Squirrels, thanks for educating me. will go and look them up.

  3. Ooh, the Red Squirrel appears to be such a darling lil' chap. Love the tufts and extra bushy tale.

    Thanks for the great reads (we are all so spoiled with your blog posts because they are always this good!) and I look forward to seeing Red Squirrel HDT.

  4. I saw a red squirrel when we lived for a while in Berkhamsted, it used to come every morning to eat from the plate of scraps we put under the clothesline for it! Very cute.
    Yes, motorways are terribly boring, aren't they? - practical in terms of getting where you want to go, but have meant that driving just isn't fun anymore!

  5. Too bad for the rainy weather. Very nice wood carvings, I especially like the Meercat and how they have him emerging from the ground. The red squirells are so cute. It's fun to watch them dart around, they are so fast!


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