Sunday, 14 February 2016

Squirrel Kalaedescope - You Choose between the Blacks, Reds and Greys!

Greetings everyone - and apologies for the absence of last week's post.  Several reasons for it, including the fact that our Black Squirrels (mentioned by Cy Bear in his last post a couple of weeks ago) had still to be completed, and also because I  have been unexpectedly away from base. (While this still continues to be the case, hopefully all will be restored to "normal" soon).

In the interim, because "home" is not far from where I find myself at the moment, I've been able to retrieve the necessary fabric and other haberdashery needed to complete the Coldham Cuddlies Squirrel project.  So, this post will serve to introduce the three latest members of the Coldham Cuddlies family:

First - even though he/she is/are the newest members of the Squirrel clan - meet Basil:  so called because the name rhymes with Cyril Red Squirrel and Sybil Grey Squirrel, who were alluded to in Cy Bear's last post two Sundays ago. (My word, doesn't the time fly by:  here we are, already mid February 2016!):
Basil (R) has a felt acorn sewn on between his front paws, while Basil (L) does not:  just to give interested parties a choice of how their new Coldham Black Squirrel might look when thinking about adoption procedures!

This is Basil Squirrel (R) with his acorn - currently upside down, but ready for turning the right way around if required.  Cy Bear, in his last post, did mention that I was wondering how to sew the facial features on to this very black toy - because, of course, for most of my other Cuddlies, they have them sewn on with Black DK Yarn.  Eventually, I decided to go with light Brown DK Yarn for these boys, and think it works quite well.  White was just a little too stark a contrast.

Here is Basil Squirrel (L) giving a better side view of his shape.  The tails curve round at their ends, quite realistically, but being black, they don't show up as clearly as they do with the Grey and Red Squirrels.  They're all on sale at £20.00 GBP ($29.00 USD), are made in a totally smoke free and animal free environment and make really Cool Toys for Toddlers, Tots and even Grown-ups too!  

To be quite honest, I'd never heard of Black Squirrels prior to beginning the Squirrel project - one that had been on my "To Do" list for some time, (at least 3-4 years ) since receiving a Birthday (or even Mother's Day) gift from daughter,Clare.  

(This particular toy publication has been responsible already  for (Barney, Barn Owl) and our Frog - the current version being a Brown and Yellow Toy to be seen at )
I'd taken the first versions of the Grey and Red Squirrels to show friends after Mass one week after they had been completed, and during the conversation after their revelation, not only was the suggestion made to name them "Sybil" and "Cyril" respectively, but mention was made about there being Black Squirrels in existence in parts of America (with California mentioned as being where they were most prolific).  Since most of my Cuddlies seem to find Forever Homes in the USA, it thus seemed a logical move to find out more.  

My research (thanks to Google and Wikipaedia) told me that Black Squirrels derive from the Grey Squirrels and are about the same size as the Greys.  The Reds, are not only smaller, but they are now more often to be found in pockets of  the UK and, since the introduction of the Greys to our island, they are diminishing fast.  Because the Reds are more susceptible to a "squirrel pox" carried by the Greys (who seem to be largely immune to the disease), as well as being unable to stand up to the invasion by the bigger North American species.  The Black Squirrels are not just limited to California, but are commonly to be seen in the northern American States - across the whole Continentas well as the southern Canadian Provinces north of their shared borders.
However, curiously, there is an isolated colony of  Black Squirrels in the UK - in the vicinity of the town of Letchworth, in Hertfordshire (north of London).  Why they remain there, without having spread around the rest of the UK raises some interesting queries - as well as why we don't know more about them. 

Basil Black Squirrel - a view of the rear
When the move back home takes place, I'll take pictures of the three different coloured Coldham Cuddlies Toy Squirrel colony together, but meanwhile, here is one of the Reds and Greys to be getting on with.

Together with that photograph, I'll  also be going back to my Hedgehog obsession - starting to tell you more about the Christmas-time visit made to Tiggywinkles Hedgehog Hospital, one of the two Hedgehog charities the Cuddlies and I are trying to help in the fight to halt the decline of the UK Hedgehog population.  Permission has been received to use my photographs - as a reminder of that visit - and arrangements have been  put in place as to how the three Hedgehog Toys I donated to the Hedgehog Hospital Trust could be used to possibly increase our contribution to our fund-raising efforts.  All will become plain in coming weeks.

Sybil Grey Squirrel - rear view
Meanwhile -this week, nationally in the UK,  there were some developments in the overall fight for our Hedgehog Population.  Some moves are afoot to give Hedgehogs the same protection currently on offer to our Red Squirrels.  Both species are also among the contenders to be declared the National UK Animal.  You'll not be surprised to know that I'm solidly behind the Hedgehogs: although, I do admit to having torn loyalties were it to end in a race between the Hedgehogs and the Red Squirrels.  (Foxes and Badgers have been mentioned as well, for those who might be interested!)  What about the Grey Squirrels, I hear folks enquire?  Well, there are moves to try to remove them all together - because of their effect on our native Red Squirrels.  They are not native to our islands.

Watch this space - developments on all fronts will, of course, be reported as and when they occur.

Finally, Cyril Squirrel - from the back
Be back again, hopefully in normal surroundings, next week.  Cy Bear is on guard, as ever, when I'm away from base.  See you all then.