One of our properties Mount Stewart is a great place to catch a glimpse of the elusive red squirrel. You are most likely to see them hopping across the front lawn of the house or foraging at the bases of the trees. Early mornings are the best time to see them or when the areas are quiet.
The following are some photos that Emma took. She lives on the Mount Stewart estate and has squirrels coming to a feeder which is only a few meters from her back door. What fantastic views!
The squirrels take advantage of the specially designed squirrel feeders which are topped up with peanuts. Some individuals have learned they don’t have to sit out in the rain and even climb into the feeders!
Red squirrels as a species are considered vulnerable in Britain and Ireland. Isolated populations can be found in Wales and Northern England but are still considered widespread, but declining, in Scotland and Ireland.
The National Trust are contributing to the protection of red squirrels by carrying out population surveys at Mount Stewart, managing their woodland habitat and excluding grey squirrels from the estate.
Ards Red Squirrel Group
The Ards Red Squirrel Group held its fourth meeting on 24th January 2013. The group has been set up to actively protect red squirrel populations on the ArdsPeninsula. We are seeking your support in this vital and urgent conservation work!
The core representatives on the group are the National Trust (Lead Organisation), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP) and the ‘Action for Biodiversity’ project.
The ArdsPeninsula is one of the last strongholds of the red squirrel in Northern Ireland. This iconic species is critically endangered and may vanish within the next decade without urgent action. The most significant threat is from the introduced grey squirrel, which passes the ‘squirrel pox virus’ to the reds – this is invariably lethal to red squirrels and spreads rapidly. The pox virus has recently appeared at TollymoreForest and in the Glens of Antrim, leaving the ArdsPeninsula as one of the healthiest remaining population of red squirrels east of the Bann.
The main aims of the Ards Red Squirrel Group are to:
- Collect sightings of live and dead red and grey squirrels across the ArdsPeninsula and North Down. Please report any sightings to Strangford@nationaltrust.org.uk
- Liaise with estate owners/managers across the ArdsPeninsula to encourage red squirrel conservation
- Establish a buffer zone south of Newtownards and Donaghadee down to known red squirrel hotspots at MountStewart and Carrowdore. This involves preventing colonisation by grey squirrels, through working in partnership with landowners
If you are interested in getting involved in the work of the Ards Red Squirrel Group, please contact us by Email: Strangford@nationaltrust.org.uk