Where, where, where, Delilah?

It’s been a few weeks now since Delilah, our resident red squirrel, has been seen on the Trail cams here or at our neighbour’s place and squirrel sightings in general have been dropping. Worryingly, this has coincided with the daily appearance of a sparrow hawk which was witnessed one day trying to grab a squirrel out of a tree but on that occasion the squirrel was too quick and managed to get away. We have one male squirrel regularly visiting our feeders that has had a huge swelling (I think an abscess) on the side of its face for quite a few days now but as the swelling has started to go down, a number of very deep puncture wounds can be seen in a circle around the side of its head which are suspiciously the shape and size like those that would be left by a sparrow hawk’s talons. Red squirrels are lightweight creatures: I know, as just a couple of weeks ago one was killed on the road just outside our place and we moved it off the road. I was worried this poor creature was Delilah but as she is easily identified by a slightly deformed rear right foot, I checked this one over and was relieved that although this squirrel was female, it definitely wasn’t Delilah. That said, Delilah is no longer around and as she was a daily visitor to the feeders here and at my neighbour’s place, the conclusion must be a sad one. 😞

Delilah 30.8.2017 Beech Feeder
Before the squirrel numbers started to drop, up to eight red squirrels were caught on the cameras daily and it was becoming impossible to tell one from another. Delilah had her second litter of kittens around 12th August and we eagerly waited to catch her kittens on camera when they left the drey a few weeks later. One young male kitten was caught on camera a few times but hasn’t been seen in a long while and another small kitten was seen just a couple of times but I couldn’t identify the sex and that kitten has also disappeared. Here are the kittens…

As soon as we realised a sparrow hawk had taken to hunting daily in our area, we took down two of the squirrel feeders which were on trees in very open positions and we’ve put them up on trees that have lots of twiggy branches and close to large evergreen shrubs, where the squirrels can take cover and where the sparrow hawk won’t have such an easy target.

We still regularly see on camera Delilah’s three boys who were born this spring but it won’t be the same without Delilah. She was quite a character. Whenever we walked or worked in the woods, the squirrels would scatter in all directions but not Delilah, who would hop up just a little further in the tree and wait until we moved on and then come back down to the feeder. I watched her once act like a squirrel possessed by demons, chasing a male squirrel away from her territory when she had a litter of kittens in a drey there. If we left anything lying around in the woods, within twenty-four hours, Delilah would have noticed and inspected it and I have photos and videos showing her jumping inside garden sacks, holding on to garden spades, going in to inspect hedgehog houses and the like. It was as if nothing happened in her woodland that she didn’t know about.

I check the Trail cams every day as usual and I can’t help it but I hope that the cameras have caught just a glimpse of our gorgeous Delilah.

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