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  • Writer's pictureMike Curtis

Grey squirrels at Kielder Castle, Northumberland

Northumberland is the last stronghold of the Red Squirrel in England. Yes, there are some isolated enclaves elsewhere, but the northeast is where the vast majority of the Red population resides. In recent years I've visited and photographed Reds at Ashington, Northumberland, where they were easily seen, until some grey squirrels arrived a couple of years ago. Since then I've had no luck seeing Reds there although I'm told they are still there. Today I visited Kielder Castle which is well known for its Red population and has a specific Red Squirrel hide. Unfortunately, greys have been sighted in the area this summer leading the park rangers to remove squirrel feeders from the hide and attempt to catch and kill the greys. Sadly the only squirrel we saw was a grey, which we reported.

If you are unaware of the issue with the greys, it's that they are non-native to Europe and they carry a disease that is fatal to Reds. As a consequence, the Red Squirrel population has plunge where ever greys have spread. These are worrying times for the Red Squirrel population.

Cormorants on Kielder Water, not what I was hoping to see when I visited Kielder Castle.

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