The prodigal red squirrel

Here’s the good news! Just over two hours ago at 9.35 am I saw the red squirrel in the garden. Up on the new Buena Vista Crag, I suddenly noticed a red streak of a small animal on the path below, which leads up across the cottage lawns outside the kitchen.

“Was that really a squirrel?” I thought to myself and was tempted to hurry across to investigate further, but held back. It was a sound plan. A couple of minutes later I saw the squirrel climbing up from behind the belvedere and through into the Forestry Commission land. It slipped quickly into the forest, but was clearly visible on the initial slope where last month I had cleared a lot of old bracken and dead branches.

Why all the fuss? Well we’ve been wondering about the red squirrels, since they haven’t been eating the hazel nuts and we’ve had few recent sightings. The last visitors to have seen a red squirrel were in September 2011 when they arrived at the cottage. The previous sighting was by the Gretton family in July 2010, who saw them three times and took several photos of them. Several people have noted in the Visitors’ book that they have not seen a red squirrel.

We’ve been involved with the Forestry Commission in tracking the numbers of red squirrels in Whinlatter Forest and there appear to be about one red squirrel per hectare. So all in all this is good news for Seldom Seen. Let’s hope for some more sightings!

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