Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Wallington Hall & Gardens made me cry

For a while now I've doubted the existence of red squirrels, mainly because I've never seen one, everyone I speak to has and I've wondered if this was a joke or conspiracy.

Of course I can google for images, videos and the like, but that's not the same as seeing one in the flesh. Alive.

So last week I asked Simon, a  colleague and volunteer ranger for Northumberland National Parks, where I should go to see a red squirrel. He promised that I'd see them at Wallington Hall - the bird hide, they're all over the bird feeders.

So on Sunday we went.
Wallington Hall & Gardens, National Trust property, North of Ponteland onthe Scotland road.

We'd been sat in the bird hide for a good 30mins, spying the Chaffinch, Bluetit, Great tit, Coal tits, Greenfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker (I think) and Pheasants have good go at the bird feeders, the pheasants were picking up scraps off the ground, not clambering on the feeders.

We were about to move on, disappointed that these squirrels were either non-existent or just waiting until we'd gone, when I glanced over at a wood pecker feeder, a mesh box filled with peanuts & hinged lid attached to a tree, and saw something.
A bushy red tail.
I looked at Carl, did you see it? Yes, he looked and smiled (he's seen one before).
And then it scampered around the tree, sat on the feeder, opened the lid, helped itself to peanuts and sat and nibbled them.

Squirrel image from Wikipedia
Not the squirrel I saw, but very similar - this is from wikipedia
I tapped the lady next to me, looking out the front window, and told her. She was excited and told her husband (who had the camera), who told the other bird hide couple. And we all watched the squirrel.

I didn't take pictures. I sat and watched and got so overwhelmed that I cried. It was one of those moments I'd been waiting for and then it happened. It took my breath away and I was overcome with emotion.

Silly old bint, I know.  We watched it feed and followed it back up the tree. On the other side of the hide, another red squirrel was doing the same thing at another feeder. Two red squirrels in one day! Amazing. It was the best £7.50 I'd spent.

And that's how Wallington Hall & Gardens made me cry.

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