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Albino Squirrels in Selsdon Wood

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My local woods never stops amazing me. It's very close to the centre of London but has such a diverse variety of wildlife.

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There had been over resent years reports of Albino Squirrels being spotted in the wood. There is photographic evidence of them on the Friends of Selsdon Wood web site taken some years ago, but try as I might I had not seen one. I looked them up and found that Wildlife experts say the odds against a pure white squirrel being born is one in 100,000 so there are only 25 white squirrels in the wild at any one time in the UK.

Getting a good shot of one was probably a once in a lifetime capture!!

So I was really glad to hear from Heather, a member of the FSW who are a volunteer group that do a great job looking after the wood. She told me that she had seen one.

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Heather said that she had spotted an albino squirrel twice and in the same place in the wood each time. She give me the exact location in the wood,this was crucial as the wood is over 200 acres. Without that information it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. 

 

I went over to the wood on a Saturday morning and walked to the spot that was at the junction of two woodland paths, and within three minutes I had seen the white Squirrel. He was at the top of a tree looking down at me, and we both went into freeze frame mode. After a minute or so he cracked and started to move away through the tops of the trees, and I lost sight of him.

I decided to move off the path and into the wood and stood under a large holly bush. I had my Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 

70 x 300mm lens mounted on a tripod. With this all set and ready to go I sat down to wait. I expected it to take some time for him to appear but within ten minutes he was back.

I spotted him high up in a tree sitting on a branch looking down at me. He sat there a long time without moving. I think his plan was if I don't move you can't see me. The image in the title banner is the best shot I could make at this point. 

There are a lot of grey squirrels around in the wood, they don't seem overly worried by me or my dog wondering through the undergrowth looking for wildlife. The albino squirrel however is very timid and will do his best to stay out of sight. 

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I watched him high in the tree for about half an hour. I took my eye off him to grab a sandwich out of my camera bag. When I looked back he had disappeared again. I was about to give up at this point when he appeared coming down the tree about five feet from the ground. I managed to make two shots of a similar pose. He saw me,went into reverse gear, shot back up the tree, ran off through the tree tops and was gone.

That was back in October 2014. I have been visiting the site once a week at weekends, and had only seen the squirrel in the distance. It was not until March 2015 that that I made this shot. He was down close to the ground and sat still for about 15 seconds. I needed all of the 300mm of my Sigma 70/300mm lens as he was about 30M away. I was pleased with this capture,the light was good and I had time to make sure the focus was spot on. I will continue to keep looking out for him when I visit Selsdon Wood as I sure there are more good shots to be had.

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Selsdon Wood is a great place to visit. Please visit the Friends of Selsdon Wood web site where you will find all the location details.

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Author 

Mark Shoesmith