When we first moved here, grey squirrels were everywhere. They raced up and down the creek bed, up in the black walnut trees, across the back yard and through the leaf litter on the hills.
This is a good area for squirrels. The black walnuts drop plenty of nuts. The oaks and hickories add their nuts.
We enjoyed watching the squirrels (there is a nature essay in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“) race through the trees rivaling any aerialist with their daring leaps from one flimsy branch to another. Young squirrels newly on their own were easy to photograph as they weren’t as wary as older squirrels.
One year the woods fell silent. No squirrels crashed through the leaf litter. Black walnuts lay untouched on the ground. Every squirrel had packed up and moved somewhere else.
The years went by. For a couple of them we watched for the squirrels to reappear. Then we adjusted to woods with no squirrels.
A couple of fox squirrels moved in. These are larger and browner than the grey squirrels that first lived here. They arrived in late summer in time to enjoy the carpet of black walnuts.
In the spring these squirrels were gone. No more moved in.
A few years ago a couple of grey squirrels moved into the valley. I would see one racing across the road on my way to town.
One by one the squirrels moved back onto our hills. Sudden crashes in the leaf litter caused me to stop and search the hills for the squirrel. It would be hanging on a tree trunk then spiraling its way up into the branches.