Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed: Lake District squirrel kittens go nuts for Springtime

Wildlife workers have shared photos of young red squirrels – known as kits - at play at United Utilities’ Thirlmere reservoir in the Lake District this month (May).

Hidden wildlife cameras have captured lots of red squirrel activity in the woodland around the water’s edge this year, including one shot of five red squirrels at the same feeding station.

Expert Matthew Stuart, working on behalf of Red Squirrels Northern England, said to see five squirrels at the same spot was very rare.

He said: “Red Squirrels in Thirlmere are doing brilliantly this spring with lots of different red squirrel kits appearing right round the lake, the supplementary feeding is certainly helping the kits as we progress into summer when they reach their hungriest time of year before natural food arrives in the autumn.”
Thirlmere was the UK’s first ever major refuge for Britain’s protected red squirrels. Today there are five red squirrel reserves in Cumbria alone.

Now in its 20th year, the protected population at Thirlmere is still holding its own against the stronger non-native grey squirrel, which can also carry a deadly disease.

United Utilities woodland officer Vicky Bowman said: “Red squirrels love the mixed woodland around Thirlmere. It’s too dense for the grey squirrels. We are doing our bit by making the area better for reds and worse for greys. For instance, by planting more small-seeded broadleaf trees throughout the years, which are easier for the reds to eat, and leaving out food if they need it.

“Red squirrels are quite shy so we thought we’d show people the latest generation of red squirrels having fun. If they’re anything to go by, the future of Thirlmere’s red squirrels looks assured.”