Photographer takes stunning photos of red squirrels in the Yorkshire Dales

A red squirrel takes flight in Wensleydale
A red squirrel takes flight in Wensleydale
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These red squirrels have been pictured enjoying autumn in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The creatures were photographed by John Birch on private land near Hawes in Wensleydale. The site is not accessible to the general public.

Red squirrels are gradually re-establishing themselves in the Dales

Red squirrels are gradually re-establishing themselves in the Dales

Meet the red squirrel rangers who look after populations in the Yorkshire Dales
Red squirrels have declined in Britain due to factors associated with the introduction of the grey squirrel, which is native to America. Although the species are not in direct conflict, greys are carriers of a disease called parapoxvirus, which is harmless to them but will kill reds. There are now around 160,000 red squirrels left, the majority of them in Scotland. Populations are also found in the Lake District, Northumberland and the Yorkshire Dales.

A century ago reds were common in woods and plantations throughout all three Ridings of Yorkshire but they were virtually wiped out following the severe winter of 1962-63 and the spread of squirrel pox.

The red squirrel’s recovery in the Dales took off when the late Hugh Kemp and his wife Jane encouraged a small colony around their farm, Mirk Pot, in a remote offshoot of Wensleydale called 
Snaizeholme.

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There is now a trail, viewing area and feeding station at Snaizeholme called the Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve, and visitors are welcome.

Visitors can watch red squirrels at a special reserve and feeding station at Slaizeholme

Visitors can watch red squirrels at a special reserve and feeding station at Slaizeholme

There are also small pockets where red squirrel numbers are recovering elsewhere in the Dales, such as Sedbergh, Garsdale, Dentdale and Mallerstang. Rangers have been employed to control the grey population in order to allow reds to thrive.

The National Park Authority and local landowners have funded the Snaizeholme viewing area, which can be found in a woodland clearing and has a feeder to attract wildlife.

Red squirrel populations were badly hit by the squirrel pox virus

Red squirrel populations were badly hit by the squirrel pox virus

A red squirrel with a nut

A red squirrel with a nut

A red squirrel takes a dip

A red squirrel takes a dip

The red squirrels were on private land, but there is a public viewing area at the nearby Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve

The red squirrels were on private land, but there is a public viewing area at the nearby Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve

The squirrel gets acquainted with the local avian population

The squirrel gets acquainted with the local avian population