Catherine and I undertook a short expedition out to Trinity Bellwoods Park to see if we could spot the famous white squirrels which live in the area. These are not a different species, but rather a colour morph of the native Eastern Gray Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis. We did see a white squirrel on the coffee shop outside, along with some white squirrel bling on the inside. Unfortunately, I found the coffee was sour in that particularly obnoxious way that clueless hipsters are so fond of. “Yeah man, I liked coffee before it was good. You wouldn’t understand.”
(BTW, this type of crappy coffee is not limited to Toronto. We found more than our fair share in Vancouver as well. )
We did of course see some black squirrels, another morph that folks further south find quite interesting. These are actually quite common all over Toronto.
The park itself is a bit of an overrun mudpit in the winter, which the dogs seem to enjoy, but makes for treacherous walking.
The squirrels did squirrely things, such as hand face first down treetrunks, and sit in high branches making clucking sounds. These are scatter-hoarding rodents, caching food through the summer in order to survive the winter, but in urban areas make a good living on handouts and raiding gardens.
We saw several wasp nests, free of waspy occupants in the frigid air. Luckily there are lots of tree cavities around for the new queens to overwinter.
The more typically-coloured gray variant of the gray squirrel was in evidence as well, doing some major clucking from perches, as well as seeing of we had any nuts to fork over.
They are quite handsome animals, and one can’t help but marvel at their strength and speed as they navigate the trees. A squirrel must also have a tough heart to endure all the rapid climbs and descents.
The black morph probably gains some thermal advantages that offset the increased predation risk of having such an obvious coat colour.
The most exciting part of this trip was watching the squirrels chase each other, something that will probably happen more frequently in springtime. It did however, lead to my best shot of the day:
Voilà! The flying squirrel! A bit out of focus on the head, but still pretty good for a speeding squirrel!