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Save our Squirrels Berwick Group

Working closely with -
Red Squirrels in Northern England.
Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels.
Northern Red Squirrels.
Berwick Wildlife Group.
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Photo of Red Squirrel in Swinhoe woods

Squirrel News.

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ITV News

Scurry of red squirrels found living in roof of Workington house 5th May 2017

A family of red squirrels have made a roof of a house in Workington their home.

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ITV News

Coast & Country explores Anglesey 21st April 2017

Andrew is looking for red squirrels at the Llyn Parc Mawr Community Woodland near Newborough.

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The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald

Funding crisis for squirrel group 18th April 2017

Funding crisis for the Penrith Red Squirrel Group

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Yahoo News

There are no two ways about it, grey squirrels are bad for the British countryside 7th April 2017

Grey squirrels are bad for the British countryside – full stop

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STV News

Baby red squirrel rescued after nest found in felled tree 29th Mar 2017

A baby red squirrel was rescued after its nest was discovered in a felled tree in Aberdeenshire.

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Horticulture Week

Grey squirrels 'greatest threat to health of broad-leaved trees 10th Mar 2017

Grey squirrels 'greatest threat to health of broad-leaved trees

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Yahoo News

In defence of the grey squirrel, Britain's most unpopular invader 8th Mar 2017

In defence of the grey squirrel, Britain's most unpopular invader

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Surfbirds News

The Wildlife Trusts are leading the largest ever recruitment drive for red squirrel volunteers. 5th Mar 2017

Vital volunteers needed to save our last red squirrels

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Some items in the news. 1st Mar 2017

The Scotsman

Trees for Life wildlife office Becky Priestley with a red squirrel trapped near Culloden that was released later the same day near Plockton.

Ilona Amos: Return of the red squirrel is a welcome sight after 50-year absence

Derry Journal

Volunteers are needed to help protect red squirrels, as part of community-based teams gathering information about squirrel populations.

Workshop in Greysteel to save 'the last red squirrels

Farming Life

Are you nuts about red squirrels? Ulster Wildlife is leading a recruitment drive for volunteers across Northern Ireland to save our last red squirrels.

Vital volunteers needed to save our last red squirrels

The Guardian

One of Britain's endangered red squirrels. Reader Paul Whitaker is angry at the proposed cull of rival grey squirrels.

Why we should see red over this grey squirrel cull

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The Guardian More than 3.5m of the invasive rodents live in Britain, and their presence is harming the welfare of their native red cousins. Luckily, HRH has a cunning plan. 27th Feb 2017

How Prince Charles plans to sterilise the nation's squirrels – with Nutella

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ITV News

Jersey could end up being the only place in the British Isles where the red squirrel has not become extinct. 25th Feb 2017

Jersey's red squirrel population is thriving.

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Champion Newspapers

Just 10 years ago, the red squirrel was a common sight in North-West woodlands, parks and gardens. 25th Feb 2017

In safe hands!

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A news interview on the BBC relating to Red Squirrels United Feb 2017

Highlighting the plight of red squirrels in Britain with an emphasis on the larger reserves and asking for volunteers to help monitor and cull.

An agile Shiellow squirrel Feb 2017

Photo of Red Squirrel in Shiellow woods Photo of Red Squirrel in Shiellow woods

Photo of Red Squirrel in Shiellow woods Photo of Red Squirrel in Shiellow woods

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Fire crews rush to Formby Red Squirrel Reserve as blaze rips through woodland. Feb 2017

RANGERS at Formby National Trust have spent most of the week clearing away charred and scorched trees after they were deliberately set alight.

Fire crews were twice called to the Victoria Road based woodland on Saturday February 18 following the discovery of two fires which had been started on or around the red squirrel habitat.

The actions of the unknown arsonist have since been slammed by the National Trust, who say its lucky no animals were harmed during the blaze - although part of their home has been destroyed.

For a full report:-

Fire crews rush to Formby Red Squirrel Reserve as blaze rips through woodland

and Woodland arson put colony of red squirrels in danger, say rangers

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A lovely video by Terry Pawson of on of the red squirrels living in his garden at Adderstone. Feb 2017

He says -

We are on a roll (at the moment), from 2 regulars we saw 3 and now 4, best since the 1990's.

I took a video from our front room to the new feeder we put up.

Robby red squirrel

Results of the RSNE Spring Survey for 2016. Feb 2017

Dear All,

Firstly, a massive thank you to all volunteers and staff for your efforts…we have once again completed our programme of squirrel surveys across northern England. 293 sites surveyed by 140 people in 13 weeks. We cannot understate what a fantastic team effort this has been once more.

Below is a summary of the results, and attached is the report in pdf format.

Red squirrels were detected in 43.6% of all surveys (128 out of 293), which is a good result, very similar to last year. In contrast, the number of sites where greys were detected dropped significantly. They were observed in 36.8% of surveys (108 out of 293), down from the figure of 46.5% in 2015.

This was the result that we had hoped for, and predicted to an extent. Reports from many areas in the first half of 2016 suggested that greys were not as abundant as in previous years. I hope you agree that the survey results do reflect the actual picture. No doubt this is down to the hard work of so many people involved in red squirrel conservation, removing grey squirrels, and creating the space for reds. Without such intervention, greys gain the competitive edge to the detriment of red populations, as has been the pattern for so many years.

Environmental factors will have also influenced the result, and in particular, the failure of some natural food sources (very little beech nut crop in autumn 2015) will have played a part. This was in stark contrast to the situation last year, where super-abundant beech nut crop in 2014 had effectively given greys a leg up…and this was reflected in the results during 2015 surveys.

One of the strengths of a standardised survey programme is that we can be confident that results will pick up patterns, and that these patterns will fluctuate over time. The longer we can keep doing this, the more confidence we have in the results…so, looking forward to 2017 already!

We are also really pleased with the range maps created from all sources of data, and thank everyone for their part in this. Demonstrating red range in a massive 379 tetrads within three months is a fantastic result., and very similar to the total for last year. Greys were recorded in 459 tetrads, down considerably on last year’s total. This shows the scale of the conservation effort, as much of this data comes from grey squirrel control work, which continues to grow.

If any of you have any outstanding expenses, send them as soon as you can…also, any other feedback from your surveys, for example issues with equipment, access, health and safety, then that would also be welcome, as would comments on the report.

Finally, a big thank you again for helping to make this happen. We will be holding some red squirrel events later in the year as we did in October 2015…more details will follow, and it would be great to catch up with some of you then (if not before!).

All the best, Simon

Simon O'Hare
Red Squirrel Officer
Red Squirrels Northern England

Find Report Here

RSNE Monitoring Report Spring 2016

Robby red squirrel

A briefing note summarising the topic of red squirrels and leprosy. Feb 2017

Dear RSU partners,

Please find attached a briefing note summarising the topic of red squirrels and leprosy. I hope I have addressed all your questions, but please do contact me if you want to know more.

There is a summary on p2 of the attached, which I have copied below. In short, red squirrels carry the same species of bacteria that can infect humans, but there is NO CURRENT EVIDENCE for squirrel to human transmission. Risk is negligible provided good working practices are adopted, such as avoiding direct contact with wild animals and using disinfectant on surfaces and hands. This will also protect you from other zoonotic diseases. Infected squirrels may not necessarily be symptomatic (i.e. may not show any visible lesions) and whilst full routes of disease transmission are not understood, it is not a very infectious disease. Prevalence of leprosy in the UK is very low and the last indigenous case of leprosy was reported in 1954. Multidrug therapy has been available since the 1980s, which cures the disease and has greatly reduced its prevalence.

Best wishes,


What is leprosy?
Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that damage the skin and nerves. It can lead to lesions, swellings, loss of muscle sensation and permanent disability if left untreated. Disease transmission is not fully understood, but it is likely to be spread through direct contact with saliva, nasal secretions or skin cells of infected individuals. It is curable with multidrug therapy.

Do red squirrels carry leprosy?
Leprosy was detected in red squirrels from England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium lepromatosis and Mycobacterium leprae, which also cause the disease in humans. Leprosy is believed to have been present in the squirrel population for centuries, though it was not discovered until 2014. Some infected animals show no visible symptoms and when lesions are visible, they can look similar to those caused by squirrelpox virus. It is not yet known whether grey squirrels carry the bacteria.

What is the risk to humans?
Whilst the risk to people from squirrel leprosy is negligible, awareness and mitigation of risk is vital. Direct physical contact should be avoided where possible. Open wounds should be covered and hands should be cleaned thoroughly after physical contact to minimise any risk of transmission. All surfaces that have been in contact with an animal, whether it shows signs of infection or not, should be disinfected with a wide spectrum disinfectant such as Virkon.

What are the next steps?
Although leprosy has affected humans for millenia, we still have much to learn about disease transmission and host-bacteria interactions. The World Health Organisation has a global leprosy strategy to control the disease worldwide and avoid disabilities in humans living in endemic countries. Current research on red squirrels at the University of Edinburgh aims to understand the prevalence of infection across the UK, its impact on squirrel populations and how it might affect conservation efforts.

Dr Cathleen Thomas
Programme Manager Red Squirrels United

Robby red squirrel

Grey Squirrel Control Methods by the Penrith RSG. Feb 2016

PRESS RELEASE by Nick Mason, Red Squirrels in Northern England.

Northumbrians delights at seeing red

16 September 2013 Volunteers across northern England are processing new information which strongly suggests that the population of red squirrels in the Region may finally be stabilising after over 140 years of decline. During spring 2013, 300 woodlands and gardens across northern England were surveyed, with results showing that red squirrels were found in 7% more sites and grey squirrels found in 18% fewer sites than in spring 2012 which is very encouraging. This is the first time regular, large scale squirrel monitoring has been undertaken in England, and the results provide huge encouragement for the hundreds of land managers and volunteers involved in red squirrel conservation work. Previous research shows both squirrel species populations vary from year to year due to differences in food availability and weather severity, so these trends will be tested in future years. Thirty Northumberland volunteers recently celebrated their involvement in the project at a Heritage Lottery Fund sponsored training event held at Stannington Village Hall, Northumberland. In north Northumberland red squirrels are looking strong again, between Wooler and Berwick, after an outbreak of red squirrel disease two years ago. John Rae, from the Berwick Save our Squirrels Group said: “Without this monitoring we would not know what was happening in our valuable red squirrel woodlands, or the how effective our conservation work is.

“The good news for 2013 is that the monitoring of our woodlands shows signs of a reduction in grey squirrels against previous years, with red squirrels moving back in.” In south Northumberland red squirrels are still being found in dozens of back gardens around Ashington, Bedington and Cramlington. Monitoring volunteer Gary Gallagher from Choppington said: “I think it is our responsibility to help the red squirrels out as much as possible. Every little thing we do is a step to help save our reds.” Nick Mason, RSNE Programme Manager, said: “None of this would have been possible without support from Biffa Award and HLF which is helping us make massive in-roads into saving reds. I would urge everybody in Northumberland to get involved, stay involved and help make a difference to the future of these beautiful and endearing animals.” The RSNE team would love anyone seeing red squirrels between now and Christmas to record their sightings through our website, so please visit and share the good news. This will ensure red squirrels everywhere are represented in the results of the autumn monitoring programme, helping to encourage further conservation development in 2014.

Robby red squirrel

SoS Berwick Group News.

Red Squirrels Need YOUR Help.

Red squirrels are Britain's only native squirrel. Here in the North East they are still familiar and much loved. There are 20-30 thousand red squirrels in England, three quarters of them are in our county.

The red squirrel has all but vanished from the rest of the country where the North American grey squirrel now dominates. Northumberland remains a stronghold, but the grey is invading from north and south. Greys have already been sighted in Berwick.

What can you do to help save the red squirrel? Easy, just report on our sightings form, the link is above, when and where you see a squirrel. If possible add your contact number in the Comments section. Berwick Wildlife Group are helping the Red Squirrels in Northern England Project in making an up to date map of where squirrels can be seen in our region.

Squirrels can be confusing to distinguish especially if they are young squirrels. Red squirrels are smaller, have tufted ears and their tails are one colour all over. They are slender in the body, are shy and spend a lot of time in the trees. Grey squirrels are larger and never have tufted ears. They are stockily built, are bold and are very often seen on the ground.

So phone your sightings in to Heather on 07536 076 131

Go on make a difference!

Robby red squirrel

Some Books about Squirrels.

  • Title - Squirrels in your Garden

  • Author - Doreen King

  • Description - Doreen King won the first British Technology Group's prize for research at the City University in 1984. She now works for the Institute of Biomedical Science and is a member of the Institute of Environmental Studies.

  • Title - Squirrels

  • Author - Jessica Holm

  • Description - All you need to know about squirrels. Jessica Holm graduated from Royal Holloway College (now Royal Holloway & Bedford New College) in 1981 with a degree in zoology. Occasionally she escapes from the woods and can be seen on television.

  • Title - Red Squirrels

  • Author - Tom Tew & Niall Benvie

  • Description - Tom Tew examines the history of the species in Britain and suggests reasons for the changes in it's distribution and abundance.
    Niall Benvie illustrates the book with superb photographs and the book examines the impact of the grey squirrel and considers the hard choices wildlife conservationists have to face if reds are to survive.

Robby red squirrel

Chilli Con Carnage For Squirrels.

Seen on Sky News.

Gardeners being driven nuts by grey squirrels have a new secret weapon in their armoury - chilli powder. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says the spice is a safe and effective way to keep grey squirrels away from nuts and seeds, without harming garden birds.

Dusting a small amount on seed and suet mixes in feeders and on bird tables appears to have no effect on the birds, but stops the squirrels helping themselves, the charity said.

The RSPB says the chilli powder should be put in a bag with seed mix and shaken up. And if householders do not have any chilli powder to hand, curry powder, Tabasco, or peri-peri sauce will all do the trick.

But it may just be another false glimmer of hope for weary gardeners. The animals have learnt to jump over squirrel-proof obstacles, defy sonic barriers, and even lion dung.

Lloyd Scott, RSPB wildlife adviser, said: "Using chilli powder to deter squirrels is a cheap, easy and effective solution.

"Squirrels can consume large amounts of peanuts and seeds and quite frequently destroy bird feeders in the process.

"Chilli powder will stop them helping themselves but doesn't seem to have any effect on birds at all.

"This is much simpler than erecting barriers and trying to prevent access to feeders for squirrels - they are nimble, clever animals and will usually find a way in anyway."

Robby red squirrel

A Squirrel Receipe.

Squirrel Mulligan Stew

3 1/2 - 4 lb. Squirrel fillet and cut in pieces

1 tbs butter

1 tbs Mild vegetable oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

2 Bay leaves

4 Fresh thyme sprigs or tbs. thyme

2 lg Potato cut in 1" cubes

4 Carrots cut in 1/2" cubes

2 tbs chili powder

2 cups Green peas fresh or frozen

2 cans of tomato sauce

1 lg. onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic pressed

2 quarts of beef broth or stock

Roll the squirrel pieces in flour, salt, and pepper. Brown in butter.

Add squirrel and all other ingredients, (with the exception of the tomatoes), to the boiling water,

cover, and simmer for 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the tomatoes and continue to simmer another hour.

And just in the name of fairness, no dicrimination here!!!!! Robby red squirrel

Je souhaite faire cuire un écureuil rouge. Avez-vous des recettes appropriées? Mais oui, messieurs et mesdames:

Ecureuil rouge a la Toulousenne - anonymous

First take your squirrel - eet must be a tender and docilee European red squirrel - so. Ze salle ecureuil Americaine (ze grey one) is tough and unilateraliste, which leave un flaveure degoutant in ze mouth of French people. It is fit only for McDo.

Make first - 'ow you say? - ze stock. Onions, carrottes, un soupcon d'ail - but you know zis, n'est ce pas?

Now to kill ze petite amuse-bouche. Grasp firmly by ze - aaaaaagggghhhhhh! - it has bit me, ze sacre animale - not to bite me again, M l'Equireuil, please, I beg you, I have ze femme and three petites, I surrender, I surrender, do you not see my white flag?

It is ron away, merci, le Bon Dieu. Ah, mon coeur. So to eat now, I must go to McDonalds.

If you have any squirrel news contact Heather on 07536 076 131 or email John .

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Red Squirrel For problems with this site please contact - John

©Save our Squirrels Berwick Group. This page was last updated on May 7th 2017.