Some of my most precious childhood memories are of time spent in nature - from adventures down to a dell near my grandparent's old house on the outskirts of Edinburgh with my mum and brother, when we used to pretend to be billy goats crossing the 'troll' bridge in the dell, and of picking blackberries with dad on the edge of the playing field near home and seeing all of the butterflies and insects or going fishing with him down on the sea wall, and of listening to nan and grandad tell tales of being on their allotment watching the fledgling bluetits as they nibbled the hearts of all of grandad's lettuces, much to my their joy - I think grandad actually planted the lettuces for the bluetits and not to have in sandwiches!
Nothing's changed - my very favourite thing to do is still to spend time in nature. I love all wildlife (even the long-legged spiders that seem to love living in my bathroom!), but some of our native mammals are particularly endearing, seeing red squirrels brings pure joy, they are so enchanting to watch and are such characters, and they're very beautiful too.
So, having followed a very talented wildlife photographer, Neil McIntyre, for some time, and having had booking a morning at his red squirrel hide at the top of my wish list for a few years now, when travel restrictions lifted in early May this year, I pinged Neil a note and booked his hide for the first day it was free.
What a truly magical morning it was - I can't wait to go back again - if you love nature and in particular red squirrels then I highly recommend a morning at Neil's hide, you'll be in for a real treat - more information can be found on Neil's website here https://www.neilmcintyre.com/sessions/red-squirrel-photography-hide/ . I'd love to go back in August when the heather is in flower, the woods around Neil's hide are blanketed with heather. Or in Autumn when the woods are filled with Autumn colour. Actually, any time of year would be just perfect :-).
Here's a video and some more photos from my morning at Neil's hide in May. I spotted five red squirrels at one point, chasing each other round the trees. There was other wildlife to see too, including a woodpecker, many chaffinches and a tiny vole who I spotted pinching the hazelnuts out of the corner of my eye - it kept coming back so I managed to get some film and photos of him or her too, very sweet to see.
The picture below is of one of the little red squirrels on a feeding station that Neil has set up beside his hide. The noise as it's tiny teeth made sharp work of the hazelnut shell was incredible - and similarly the noise of the red squirrels' claws as they raced round the trees rang through the woods. I'm learning that, if we sit still quietly for a while, then we might hear wildlife before seeing it, which gives us a far better chance of spotting it at all.