11 Jul
2013
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Red Squirrel Conservation

It is a scorching day at Escot and we are entering the Red Squirrel enclosure for the second time today. Our first attempt to see the squirrels ended in failure, with not a creature stirring amongst the trees.

So, we explored the wetlands, got lost in the Beech maze, played in the pirate ship, had a lolly, visited the Wild Boar and the birds of prey and had a great time, but we were determined not to leave without seeing the stars of the show.

We are not disappointed again. This time, there is a Red Squirrel on the feeder and as we pause to watch, it leaps onto the handrail of the walkway and runs along it towards us. It is just about to scamper over my hands when I pull them out of the way, giving it a clear run. It is not only Izzy that is thrilled. I have never seen one of these beautiful, graceful little creatures before, either. It is much more delicate than its more familiar grey cousin, with bright red fur and quivering ear tufts that glow in the summer sun.

These little squirrels are part of a conservation programme that aims to reintroduce the species back to the south-west of England. There is a long way to go, with hurdles such as competition with greys and squirrel pox virus to overcome. But, maybe, just maybe, when Izzy is older, she will see these animals back where they belong, wild in the countryside.

Another squirrel shins up a tree and leaps from branch to branch over our heads, whilst the first one potters about on the ground, under a Blackberrybush. Eventually, both of them move deeper into the undergrowth and out of sight.



Practicalities

Access to the Red Squirrel Walk Through Enclosure (and some other parts of Escot) is free, but there is an admission fee for the other attractions. See the website for further details.

Other places to see Red Squirrels

 

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