Thursday, 4 September 2014

Nose to nose with a Red Squirrel

It's been a few years since I last visited Brownsea Island, so whilst recently staying near Poole Harbour it was too good an opportunity to miss to not go again, especially as I'd promised my two children guaranteed views of Red Squirrel - I was potentially setting myself up for a fall there!

To this date Brownsea Island still remains the only place I've ever seen these shy and diminutive Squirrels away from Scotland and with a healthily population of up to 200 Red Squirrels on the Island your chances of seeing one is very good - although not always guaranteed.

Despite the rather inclement August weather it didn't take us long to locate our first Red, high up in a large Beech tree shelling nuts (job done and dad had been vindicated) but once he'd spotted us he was soon off and was lost amongst the canopy of leaves, we continued to see only fleeting glimpses of a few other Squirrels as we made our way around the island but all that changed when we came across one of this years young coming down an old dead tree with the top-half missing. Clearly it was a little bit startled at the prospect of having to come down the tree with four pairs of eyes staring up at him, especially once it realised it had nowhere to go other than in a downward direction, so this little fella gave us all brilliant views as he scampered down the tree in a circular motion not dissimilar in style to a Treecreeper, all the time doing its best to avoid us, before skipping across the ground and up the next available tree and away.

A thrilling way for my children to engage with this true native species of mammal, which sadly is no longer a part of our pine forests on the mainland.

Dorset, Brownsea Island, National Trust

Dorset, Brownsea Island, National Trust

Dorset, Brownsea Island, National Trust