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Red Squirrel Safari

We are really lucky to have a small population of Red Squirrels living in our country park, they are often spotted amongst the woodland canopy. 

The Squirrels here are not tame and offer the perfect opportunity to spot them in a natural state,  follow our Red Squirrel safari guide below to stand a chance of spotting them, remember they are scared by loud noises! Squirrels are active throughout the year, you are most likely to see them in the early morning. You may need to wear wellies to complete this walk, so please consider the weather and dress appropriately. 

Start

To begin your Red Squirrel Safari, head to the nature trail, you will find a wooden sign behind the fort, next to the picnic area. Follow the trail upwards until on your left you will see a wooden statue of an owl. This is the "Owl Glade" in an area of the country park known as the Planted Pines.

 

The trees surrounding you are pine trees that were allowed to establish here when the fort came out of military use. They are now an important food source for our red squirrels. If you venture a little further along the path through the Owl glade on your left you will notice a brick chimney and a very deep pit, these are for the forts old engine room buried underneath the woods! 

Stand in this location for a while, very quietly and  keep looking up, you will hear the squirrels before you see them, a tell tale sign that they are above you will be leaves and seeds dropping to the woodland floor from the canopy. This area is one of the Squirrels favourite feeding spots. 

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Look out for pine cones that have been nibbled by Squirrels on the woodland floor - Did you know Squirrels can be left and right handed! 

Continue..

To continue your Safari, Look for a path that heads up into the woods from the brick chimney / pit, this will lead you up onto the metalled Path (stone path) this was the old marching pathway for soldiers to move between Fort Victoria and Fort Albert. Upon reaching this path head left and in a short while you will see another pathway on your right going up. Follow this path for quite a while until eventually you pop out at the end of the Country Park at the Hurst Castle View Point. 

Whilst following this path keep your eyes and ears open for rustling in the trees, it may just be a squirrel! look on the ground for signs of pine cones being nibbled and discarded, if you find any stop for a while and listen out for activity above you. 

Once you arrive at the View point, after taking in the stunning view, head to your right (east), this will take you down a slope and back onto the metalled path,  

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Look out for Dreys. A drey is a Squirrel nest made of twigs, leaves and moss, woven into a ball high up in the trees. 

Last Bit...

Follow the path back towards the fort, along this path are Hazel and Elm trees, another feeding favourite of the squirrels. Pause at the first pond you come to, which will be on your right and has a small wooden statue of a newt. This is another favourite haunt of the Squirrels and are often spotted in the trees here. In the Spring you may notice a carpet of discarded elm seeds on the pathway as our squirrels feast on them!

 

Carry on the pathway until you reach the next pond, after pausing here take the pathway left back down the hill towards the fort and you are back at the start. 

Did you spot any Squirrels? 

If you did how about taking part in some citizen science and record your sightings online at  https://irecord.org.uk/

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