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Red Squirrels and a visit from Selside Endowed Primary School 09 Dec 2015

From time to time we have visits from schools and our local horticultural college.  Last month, we enjoyed the company of infants from Selside Endowed CE School who chose to come when the autumn colours were still on display all around.

They arrived with a very busy programme of activities planned that revolved around using their senses, one of their tasks being to create a perfume for a hedgehog.  This involved ferreting around for all manner of ingredients and then mixing them up into a muddy porridge in a cup.  The resulting concoctions were thoughtfully tipped out under bushes and trees for the hedgehogs to discover  and delight in later that night.

Their chances of having an encounter with one or more of our resident red squirrels were reduced when they discovered the thundering noise that little bewellied feet made if stamped in unison on our steel bridge deck over Weasdale Beck.  Recounting the tale of Billy Goat Gruff, some were a little disappointed that they didn’t wake the troll living underneath.

To try and improve their chances of seeing a squirrel we got them all (about 22 of them) to lie down on their backs in the grass on the margins of one of the shelter belts by a nursery bed and to be completely silent and just listen.  Very often, it can be hard to spot a squirrel in the canopy, but you can often first hear their claws on the bark as they scamper up and down.  Unfortunately, the squirrels were in hiding that day, but there were some amazing observations that were made afterwards  about what their little ears had heard.  They must have been completely still and silent for a full 10 minutes – an absolute eternity when you are only 4,5 or 6.  Very impressive.