Red squirrels in Formby
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The red squirrel population at Formby is increasing. Read more about their habits and how we protect them, from Louise Mitchell, one of the dedicated Rangers at Formby.
In September 2005 the woodlands at Formby became part of a National Red Squirrel Refuge and Buffer Zone, along with the rest of the Sefton Coast Woodlands. Woodland management plays a vital part in the conservation of the red squirrel and the Sefton Coast Woodland Management Plan ensures all woodland owners in the area work with this in mind.
In 2008 the population was decimated by squirrel pox and approximately 80 percent of the squirrels were lost leaving as few as 20. Since then there has been a steady recovery with numbers currently around 250.
In 2011, six feeding stations were installed around Squirrel Walk. Designed so grey squirrels and larger birds can’t fit through the mesh, the feeders are filled by rangers every morning and disinfected regularly. The feeders have been a great success with sightings regularly reported to the rangers.
Squirrels normally build their nests, known as dreys, high in the fork of a tree close to the trunk. Dreys are made from twigs, leaves, bark and moss.
The most important food for red squirrels is tree seeds such as pine, however they also eat fungi, berries, buds, tree sap and nuts. The woods at Formby are predominantly Scots and Corsican Pine and we actively manage them with felling and replanting to ensure there are trees of cone-bearing age throughout the site.
During breeding season (December to February), you can observe lengthy mating chases through the trees. The average size of a litter is three and young squirrels (called kittens) will stay with mum until they are around ten weeks old.