formby red squirrel

Red Squirrel

[nb: full res versions of these red squirrel images available on request]

Red Squirrel – Formby Nature Reserve

Red squirrel formby

Last October we had a few days holiday in the North West and visited Formby to visit the Red Squirrel nature reserve there. I’d only seen a red squirrel once before in my whole life so I was really hopeful to not only see one by maybe to actually photograph one. Pulling up at the entrance gate we were amazed and delighted to see one in a nearby tree. The National Trust, who run this site, have set up red squirrel feed boxes in the trees and here, just yards from the entrance gate, a recently re-stocked feeder had enticed our first red squirrel sighting of the day.

red squirrel in a tree

We parked up and started walking on the woodland paths. Walking slowly and quietly, and pausing momentarily to look up into the tops of the trees, it wasn’t long before a rustling in the canopy high above us revealed red squirrel activity. Being patient and walking with a fair degree of stealth we were able to enjoy several sightings that day.

red squirrel in a tree at formby

We expected to see red squirrels eating pine cones and nuts but what surprised us was to see them enjoying the red capped mushrooms that were growing on the forest floor.

red squirrel eats mushroom

Our visit in October showed us red squirrels in their winter coat which is darker than the summer coat – some of them were almost black in their colouring.
red squirrel in winter coat

We’d seen at least a dozen red squirrels on that first visit to Formby Nature Reserve. Keen to see them in their bright orange summer coats and hoping for the chance to see some youngsters, (which coincidentally are called ‘kittens’) we planned a return visit in the spring. And so it was, that towards the end of June 2014 we headed back up, this time armed with a 500mm lens. Getting there early for a 9am start gave us the opportunity to see them at the feeders.
red squirrels on a feeder at Formby

When the footpaths are quiet these reasonably shy creatures come out to play and at points we could see eight or more at the same time. By remaining still there were points where we’d have squirrels as close as five or six feet away. Other wildlife also inhabits the area and at one point it felt like we were looking at a scene from Beatrix Potter.
red squirrels living wild in uk

This visit rewarded me with a really successful shoot, the new lens worked really well and with the weather not too hot on the Saturday the squirrels were out to play for most of the day. On Sunday morning we took the opportunity for another hour of early morning shoot as the light was particularly nice. here is a video collection of some images from the shoot:

PostScript: A thanks to the fab coffee guys Caffe Adore who have a concession tent in the car park which fuelled us well with really decent coffee