31 March 2009

A flood of emotions

In Fargo, N.D., where rising waters have thrown the community into a mix of fear and chaos, one squirrel lucked out. Plucked from the rushing tide of a river by rescuers who kept their eyes open as well as their hearts, he was quickly warmed up and given a name: Grover.

The people of Fargo have had enough to worry about, surely: losing all they have known and worked for their whole lives. It is both remarkable and heartening that someone cared enough to see this small fellow struggling against the currents, and to act to save him.

The toll in Fargo has been a high one. It is hard to know who else made it alive out of the angry waters, but this one little fellow did. We wish him well.

27 March 2009

For Scottish squirrels, a sweetheart deal

I guess you could call it a Sweetheart deal for the Scottish: a new campaign to save the native red squirrels.

Launched on Valentine's Day, and given full backing by the Scottish government, the three-year effort by two conservation groups urges local citizens to assume stewardship (a financial stewardship, in this case) for woodlands, preserving them so they will continue to have habitat, even as they battle a viral infection known as pox, brought to their country by grey squirrels - an introduced species that is, sadly, viewed as a threat.

The two groups are collecting money for a cause close to Scottish citizens' own hearts: Scotland doesn't just want to halt the decline of the reds, but reinvigorate their spread across the nation once more. The campaign takes a positive approach to supporting the reds, a different variety of red squirrel than the ones we have here in the States, and definitely a national treasure.

This is good news for the red squirrel, though it makes me wonder if there can ever be developed a similarly positive, and nonviolent, option for stemming the overtake by the greys, who never asked to cross the Atlantic in the first place.

One can only hope.

21 March 2009

Watching "Mr. Squirrel"

I am normally not a big fan of surveillance videos, but when it comes to cute squirrels, legal rights to privacy can take second place to squirrel-lovers' rights to see squirrels in action.

That's why this FLICKR video is the right kind of surveillance video. This squirrel isn't trying to rob a bank (or even a bird-feeder for that matter), he (or she) is simply squirreling away goodies for the future. The squirrel is investing, I might add, at a time of global economic crisis. As such, this little FLICKR clip serves as an instructional video for many of us trying to keep breathing while in something of a financial stranglehold.

You'll immediately note the squirrel is aware of being watched - perhaps even of being filmed - and mugs twice for the camera.

Everyone loves having a fan club, and being appreciated.

I expect after this video is viewed far and wide, the folks at CNNMONEYmay invite the squirrel onto one of their financial shows - or to scratch out a BLOG - and school many of us amateurs in the ways of true professionals who know so much more about saving in these trying times.

19 March 2009

Wild about junk food

It's official. The world's most famous Junk Food Junkie lives in the United Kingdom.

This notorious nosher, an eastern grey of otherwise normal proportions, has been immortalized via cell phone video - and later in a story in the Milton Keynes Citizen, gorging on cajun-flavored crisp delicacies, known as Walkers Crisps. The scene of the alleged crime: the back yard of local wildlife fan, resident Camilla Cullum.

Cullum caught the critter, crisp-handed in the act. The video and the photos went on the web and then went viral - globe-trotting via the Internet until the junk food junkie developed a following of fans as far away as India and the U.S.

Sadly, PepsiCo, the maker of Walkers Crisps, is not among the fan base. The newspaper made the images available to the company but they apparently did not seem nuts about the idea. Nor did they even give the notion a crisp reply.

07 March 2009

Putting squirrels on the map

Great Britain is having a hard time keeping its native, beloved red squirrels on the map, and unfortunately its assault continues unabated with the red's presumed assailant, the Eastern Grey Squirrel. Greys are an introduced (and non-native species) from across the Pond. This rather sorry conflict created all sorts of sadness and grief on both sides of the controversy.

But BBC home editor Mark Easton has found some happy middle ground. He recently posted on his blog at the BBC News web site, a way to keep the Eurasian Red Squirrel, personified by Beatrix Potter's saucy little Squirrel Nutkin, on the map. In this case it's a map of their native land, reflecting the change in their population, migration and growth.

It's pretty amazing stuff, because the same map can be used to chart the biodiversity of the whole United Kingdom, everything from scurius vulgaris (the red squirrel) to the growth patterns of native fungi. The makers of this map have crunched all sorts of data from a variety of sources, including the Save Our Squirrels effort, which is at the forefront of conserving the native reds.

Crunching data is a good thing - especially with respect to nut-crunching squirrels. The effort is admirable.

Now perhaps there should be another map - showing anti-grey squirrel factions and pro-grey factions - and a way to get everyone together to nonviolently solve the issue.

01 March 2009

Don't mess with the groundhog

To all of you who scoffed at Punxsutawney Phil's prediction of six more weeks of winter, pay heed to the winter storm that is quickly consuming the East Coast of the United States.

Don't mess with the groundhog!

Phil meant no harm with his February prognostication, he was only doing his job, and as the King of Forecasting Squirrels, this rodent is all pro. Indeed, there are many meteorologists out there who owe him their lives, if not their livelihoods too.

Don't mess with the groundhog.

Folks can throw their Phil Wanna-be woodchucks in front of the TV cameras and vow they're just as accurate as the Big Kahuna of Weathercasting but, in the end, the skies, the clouds and the barometric pressure issue the ultimate final judgment, and that decree says:

Don't mess with the groundhog.

It's going to be a splendid storm, folks, and I plan to enjoy it, to wake up and face the pristine snow where only bird footprints and squirrel footprints leave a tale to tell, like punctuation marks printed neatly across a clean white canvas.

As for me, I wouldn't dream of messing with the groundhog. Besides, he's back in his burrow sleeping for the next couple of weeks or so while we humans grumble about our fate: Into every life a little (or a whole lot) of snow must fall. Just ask the groundhog.