Inspiring children and young people to learn more about native red squirrels and their environment is hugely important to the group.
We absolutely love seeing young faces light up at the sight of a pair of red tufty ears and a bushy tail.
Young squirrel fans become dedicated conservationists and help secure our Red Squirrels future so we are proud to share their stories and experiences here.
Whilst on their annual Autumn Walk in Castlewellan Forest Park, the boys and girls of Ballykinlar group had a wonderful surprise. They were having a lovely time collecting coloured leaves, conkers etc., and were just about to collect some acorns for their school display, when someone shouted “There’s a red squirrel!” and lo and behold a red squirrel came scampering down from the top of the oak tree to the bottom. He was quickly followed by another red squirrel that appeared to be chasing him. They were only 2 metres from the children and did not seem to be afraid of them. The children were very quiet so as not to frighten the red squirrels away. When the red squirrels got to the bottom of the tree they turned and chased each other back up to the top again. When the one in front stopped, the one behind stopped too – not really wanting to catch him and spoil the fun. This made the girls and boys all laugh. The red squirrels went up and down the oak tree at least four times and it made everyone very happy to have seen them. It was the best treat ever, not only for the boys and girls of Ballykinlar Playgroup but for the adults who were with them too.
Oak Trees are a native deciduous tree and support hundreds of species of insects which in turn provide food for birds and mammals.
They also produce acorns in Autumn which are a vital food source for birds like Jays and mammals including our Tollymore Red Squirrels (They are also excellent for a good game of Squirrel Chase!)
Did You Know?
Red Squirrels cannot digest green acorns and have to wait until they are ripe and brown before they can eat them. Non-Native grey squirrels can eat the green acorns and often get to this vital food source before the smaller reds have a chance. This is why it is vital to plant a mix of red squirrel friendly trees like Scots Pine, Hazel and Hawthorn to help sustain the native reds through the cold winter months
Red Squirrels and You!
Ballykinlar Playgroup shared special moments with our charismatic native red squirrels but have you ever had a close encounter with your local Radiant Reds?
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