Squirrels a favourite subject for photographer John

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My first article about October’s SWT guest speaker, John Wilson’s talk ‘Through the Seasons’ did not mention one of his favourite subjects - red squirrels.

When I had a word with him after his presentation he explained that he uses several hides around Northumberland and the Borders but he did not reveal which one he used to photograph reds.

We were treated to many images of these delightful creatures and told how one hide was within site of a convenient stump which he baited with hazel nuts and peanut butter.

The season is crucial with snow or heather providing the most dramatic backgrounds. The details were so clear that we could distinguish different individuals from their colouration and size of tail and ear tufts.

During the nesting season he positioned himself in a hide near Powburn to capture photos of great crested grebes. For three successive years their nest was washed away.

This year a floating platform was constructed for the nest but the eggs vanished - perhaps taken by otters or mink.

Another hide inside a forest enabled John to follow the progress of a young roe deer with a distinctive black patch on his hind leg. The following year this youngster was developing horns. This sighting must have taken many patient hours.

One of his most unusual images was that of a spotted flycatcher nesting in a ram’s horn. His garden is secluded enough to attract pheasants and they are sometimes tame enough to be fed by hand.

John did not confine himself to our local area but showed us striking landscapes in the Cairngorms.

Autumn and winter views were shown from Glen Etive and Glen Shee.

Other localities included Perthshire, the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge near Fort William and Glamis Castle in Angus off the A94 near Strathmore Forest. The autumn colours both here and at Loch Tummel in Perthshire were particularly vivid.

The next winter meeting of the SWT is on Thursday evening November 6, when Dr David Long from Spottiswoode is going to give a talk on Bryophytes (mosses and ferns).

David used to work at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, before his retirement and he is an authority on this topic.

Over the years he has travelled extensively in China to pursue his studies and collect specimens to bring back to the Gardens.

This will be a fascinating evening.

We meet at 7.30pm in Duns Parish Church Hall and the entry fee of £1.50 includes light refreshments after the talk.