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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

11 August, 2016

Red Squirrel: fortress Brownsea

Everyone must surely know the sorry tale of the decline of our native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). Once a common species of our woodlands and a favourite character in various children's stories, notably Squirrel Nutkin of the Beatrix Potter books, the poor red squirrel was driven out by the importation of the American grey squirrel to Woburn Park in the late 19th century from where it rapidly spread to virtually all of lowland Britain.
The red squirrel still survives in some numbers in remote areas such as the Highlands of Scotland and some parts of the Lake District but it also thrives on some of the islands around Britain including Anglesea, the Isle of Wight and, of course, Dorset's own Brownsea Island. Extreme security measures are in place on Brownsea to monitor the reds and to stop greys arriving; it has been made something of an island fortress with detailed plans in place to deal with any grey threat that may arise.
If you want to see red squirrels then Brownsea is a good place for them and any visit there is usually rewarded with a sighting or two. They are most frequent in spring and autumn but can be seen pretty much all year round. If you go to Brownsea just stroll around until you find a group of people and it is a pretty good bet they have gathered to look at one of the islands two hundred or so reds.
Red Squirrel: fortress Brownsea