Royal Deeside : Red Squirrels
One of the delights of Royal Deeside is the presence of red squirrels. Once widespread throughout the UK, their numbers have been steadily declining so that Royal Deeside is one of the last places where they can be seen frequently. (Indeed, in areas where the squirrels are plentiful drivers are asked to drive with care so as to protect them.)
Smaller, and more appealing, than the (American) grey squirrel they are best suited to pine forests. However, they can be seen in many domestic gardens raiding the nuts put out for the birds.
The article below is an extract from one published in 'The Blether' a newsletter produced for residents of West Aberdeenshire.
Loss of habitat, disease and road deaths have all contributed to this decline. The biggest threat, however, is the American grey squirrel. First introduced to Chester in 1876, it's numbers have escalated to 2.6 million. The grey is a larger animal and can feed more efficiently from broad-leaved woodlands. It can also feed on seeds such as hazel and acorn before they are fully ripe, thus skipping ahead of the reds in the dinner queue. This has spelt disaster for our red squirrel. It is thought that where greys move in on an area supporting reds, the latter will be ousted within 20-30 years
Here in the North East there are strong populations of reds. The pinewoods of Deeside and Donside offer prime habitat for these creatures, as do many of the commercial plantations. Reds exist alongside greys in the broad-leaved woodlands in and around the city but it is not clear how long they can maintain a presence there.
GRAMPIAN RED SQUIRREL GROUP was formed in 1999 comprising government bodies such as the Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural Heritage, private landowners (including the National Trust) and interested individuals. They, along with the Local Biodiversity Action Plan, are working towards maintaining populations of red squirrel in Scotland's North East.
Why not visit one of the many woodlands around the North East where red squirrels are present? If you're lucky you may spot a flash of red in the tree tops. Squirrels are at their most active a few hours after dawn so you might have to get up early. Some good spots to visit include Scolty Woods, Benachie, Cambus o' May, Culbin and Durris, though there are many more in the area.
more advice on this or other biodiversity issues
|Top of Page|
|Introduction||Journey through Deeside||A Dram of Whisky 1||A Dram of Whisky 2||Forests and Woodlands||Lochnagar|
|The River Dee||Red Squirrels||Craigendarroch Hill, Ballater||Clachnaben by Banchory||Braemar Weather|
website is maintained for the benefit of the residents of Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire,
Ballater (RD) Ltd, a charitable company limited by Guarantee.
Copyright © 2003-2013 Ballater (RD) Ltd