The seeds were sown, for my interest in red squirrels, back in the summer of 1965. A family get-together was arranged at RHS Wisley. As we greeted each other, in the car park, my father suddenly pointed, and said “Look, a red squirrel!” I can’t say that I saw the squirrel, but I certainly saw movement in the branches. At the time, I did not know why my father was so excited; however, more recently, I came to understand that the red squirrel would have been almost extinct, in this part of England, by this date.
Photography has accompanied many of my interests, over the years, documenting moments in time. 2010 saw me in Poole, where I realised that it was possible to visit Brownsea Island on a day trip from home. My first visit saw me watching two red squirrels for about forty minutes, high up in pine trees, engaged in a chase. Whilst my photographs were nothing to get excited about, unnoticed, I managed to creep close to the action. Too close, in fact, since one squirrel used a dead branch as a springboard, only for it to break and fall almost at my feet. Needless to say, I was hooked by these enchanting animals.
I had read that the British Wildlife Centre, in Surrey, had recently opened a walk-through red squirrel enclosure, which might enable me to see and photograph the squirrels close up. I didn’t realise how close! The squirrels had become used to visitors, and one was known to use them as trees. One little squirrel, named Cyril, had noted this activity, and I could see that he wanted to jump on me from the boardwalk handrail. I crouched down to his level. Cyril looked to my right shoulder, left shoulder, right shoulder and back. Finally, having decided, he jumped; landing on my head!
Having studied squirrel behaviour at the BWC for more than a year, I turned my attention once again to Brownsea Island, and the Isle of Wight.
- Born (1954) and brought up in Croydon, Surrey.
- Worked for Nestlé UK Ltd (1974-2002) at Croydon and Peterhead (Scotland) locations.
- Spare time activities included:
- Active on the folk music scene (1979-95)
- Cycling time triallist (1996-2006)
- Photography – on-going, in tandem with several interests, but concentrating on wildlife and specifically red squirrels, since 2010.
- Main media appearances were:
- BBC Children in Need (1993) – performing as a group representing the International Concertina Association.
- BBC Bargain Hunt (2006) – in a cycling-themed programme. My team came a distant second.