Go nuts for the native nutkin: Get ‘reddy’ for Red Squirrel Week

Thursday 24th September 2015

Photo by Eliot Smith

Radiant redheads are only found in certain areas of the UK, which is why The Wildlife Trusts are encouraging everyone to look out for them during Red Squirrel Week (Sat 26 Sept – Sun 4 Oct).

With distinctive russet fur, tufted ears and twitching tail, a red squirrel is a captivating sight. Autumn is a great time to see them as they forage nuts to cache for the winter months. Tune into the sights and sounds of the woodland and forest, listen for the chattering call, and look out for the gnawed husks of cones – watch out for them raining down from above! For great places to see red squirrels, visit http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/reserves-wildlife/great-places-see/red-squ...

Once common, red squirrels have declined rapidly since the 1950s. Numbers in the UK have fallen from around 3.5 million, to a current estimated population of around 120,000, of which 75% or more are in Scotland.

Red squirrels continue to be in serious decline due to disease, the loss and fragmentation of woodland habitat and competition from the more robust grey squirrel. There are only a handful of refuges left for red squirrels in the UK. Strongholds are Scotland, the Lake District and Northumberland with some isolated, remnant populations further south in both England and Wales including Anglesey, Formby in Lancashire, Brownsea Island in Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

Earlier this month, a unique new UK-wide project to secure the future of the native nutkin was announced, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Red Squirrels United, a new four year programme brings together eight partners from across the UK. It will operate directly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and work with the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels partnership on cross-border conservation action and skills-sharing to achieve the development of a truly UK-scale red squirrel conservation initiative for the first time. The Red Squirrels United programme is led by The Wildlife Trusts in partnership with Newcastle University, Forest Research, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Red Squirrels Trust Wales, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Ulster Wildlife and The Wildlife Trusts of South & West Wales. Find out more about Red Squirrels United here.