It’s always great to hear from readers by e-mail. Usually it is a query about something strange they have seen in the countryside and they need a little help with identification.
Occasionally, I get something which is so unusual, it stops me in my tracks and last week I received just such a communication.
Attached to it was a picture of a red squirrel climbing up a fence post, in the middle of nowhere, with not a tree in sight. I had to find out more!
The sender was Colin Malcolm, a retired shepherd from Selkirk, and his friend in the photo is Mark Arres, a farmer from Ashkirk.
Their hobby is hill walking and they like to visit unfamiliar areas by car then go for a strenuous circular walk, taking in the wildlife as they go.
On this occasion (September 19) they were exploring the hills at the very head of the Ettrick Valley, in the Potburn area.
Walking along the march fence, they came upon the squirrel, which didn’t seem to mind them being so close.
The puzzling thing is that it was wild moorland with not a tree for miles. As you can see from the photo, the fence post is being used as a substitute tree.
Colin told me that there was some felling taking place around Ettrick Pen, so it may be that the animal had been disturbed and was seeking a more peaceful forest. It may also have been a young squirrel seeking new territory and using the fence line as cover.
There are a lot of large forests in that area with barren heath and moorland in between, so I suppose the only way squirrels can move between them is to risk exposure to predators and cross these treeless expanses.
I would be interested to hear from anyone out there with more squirrel knowledge than I have, what their opinion is.
As Colin says: “The Borders never fail to amaze. With such diversity on our doorsteps, we are truly lucky.”
Don’t forget, if you have an interesting local wildlife story to tell or unusual picture; drop me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
I would prefer that you contact me this way rather than by letter.