Damian Waters (drumimages.co.uk)
Red Squirrels are most often found in coniferous woods. Red Squirrels feast on hazelnuts by cracking the shell in half. You may also find pine cones that have been nibbled, leaving what looks like an apple core behind. Squirrels make a rough nest, called a 'drey', of twigs, leaves and strips of bark in the fork of a branch, high in the tree canopy.
How to identify
Easily distinguished from the Grey Squirrel by its smaller size, reddish-brown fur (although it can look darker and duller in the winter) and tufts of hair on the end of the ears.
Where to find it
Strongholds are Scotland, the Lake District and Northumberland with some isolated, remnant populations further south in England and Wales including Anglesey, Formby in Lancashire, Brownsea Island in Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
When to find it
How can people help
Once common across the country, Red Squirrels have declined rapidly since the 1950s. The introduced Grey Squirrel has replaced our native Reds, out-competing them for resources and introducing Squirrel Pox, a disease that is fatal to them. The Wildlife Trusts are working hard to save the Red Squirrel by improving its favoured habitats, controlling Grey Squirrels and being involved in reintroduction schemes. Volunteers are needed to help with everything from surveying to habitat restoration. So why not have a go at volunteering for your local Trust? You'll make new friends, learn new skills and help wildlife along the way.
Red Squirrels Northern England is a project working in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust to secure and increase red squirrel range in and beyond designated strongholds.
They deploy a large team of rangers and contractors to undertake grey squirrel control in areas important for red squirrels. This team are working alongside private landowners and local red squirrel groups to build the effective control networks needed to prevent further losses of red squirrels through disease transmission and food competition with grey squirrels.
The impact of their work on red squirrels is being carefully assessed through landscape-scale, bi-annual monitoring which began in spring 2012. Further monitoring work continues. After their first year, they are seeing encouraging signs of red squirrel range stability across many of the strongholds and beyond.
Visit their website for more information, including links to local supporter groups, volunteering opportunities, events and opportunities to donate to the project.