Dear Owner,                                                                                                      October 2012

                                       RED SQUIRRELS – SCUIRUS VULARIS

We are very lucky to have a red squirrel colony on the Underscar Estate. These beautiful animals are a delight to watch and if you have never seen a red squirrel before, your first sighting will be a moment to treasure. Red squirrels can be seen scampering along the pathways, leaping over the walls, clambering over the feeders and expertly breaking open the nuts to feed. They are naturally timid creatures, although the squirrel colony has grown used to the human visitors who share their space at Underscar.

Pauline and Derek Harrison, former owners of Underscar Manor, were the first to encourage and coax the colony along through careful supplementary feeding. Pauline and Derek, along with the Underscar Manor staff encouraged the red squirrel colony to visit the feeders on the lawns and these visits grew from occasional sightings of one or two individuals to a continuous spectacle during daylight hours bringing delight to the hotel guests.

However, it is not all song and dance when it comes to red squirrels. In the United Kingdom, red squirrels are greatly threatened by the grey squirrel, which was introduced from America in the late 1800s. Grey squirrels carry a disease known as the squirrel pox virus, which is deadly to the reds but not to the greys. There are over 2.5 million grey squirrels in Britain, but only 140,000 red squirrels left. Red squirrels are now confined to small areas of Britain and Cumbria is one such area and staff at Underscar are striving to provide hope for the survival of our native squirrel. We now have a number of feeders positioned around the grounds of the time share apartments and a variety of nuts are provided to supplement their natural food of hazelnuts, pine cones, fungi, shoots and fruits of shrubs and trees.

Supplementary feeding is important for the survival of our red squirrel colony and the costs for this are met through the sale of cards and postcards showing red squirrels photographed around the Underscar Estate.

The woodland around Underscar is suffering from persistent incursions of grey squirrels, which are threatening the survival of our struggling red squirrel population. If you see a grey squirrel please inform Underscar maintenance staff, giving them the precise location and timing of your sighting.

Thank you for your ongoing support in helping to save this unique species of native Red squirrel from extinction.

To find out more about red squirrels then check out my blog on :

Maria Blakeley

Underscar Red squirrel photographer and Time Share Owner.

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