A century ago reds squirrels were common in woods and plantations throughout the UK, but with the spread of squirrel pox their numbers have declined significantly over the years. There are now around 160,000 red squirrels left in the UK, populations can be found in Scotland, the Lake District, Northumberland and the Yorkshire Dales.
As I live in Yorkshire, fortunately the Snaizholme Red Squirrel Nature Reserve is not too far to get too and the reserve provides some great opportunities to watch and photograph the reds. I can also take advantage in visiting at different times of the year.
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, 1,200ft up in a remote offshoot of Wensleydale called Snaizeholme. The National Park Authority and local landowners have funded a viewing area, in a woodland clearing and has a feeder to attract wildlife and if you are patient, you will see red squirrels running around the viewing area.
Snaizeholme is in the Widdale area, the reserve is in a remote area that provides an ideal habitat for Red squirrels with a coniferous woodland. One of the issues in photographing the reds is the light, the light within the reserve changes considerably depending on the time of year and time of day.
I have mainly use a 70mm-200mm f/2.8 for the images displayed here, but if you want to capture the reds in the air or on the feeders, you will need more reach, minimum 400mm. Like most wildlife photography, you have to be patient and look for potential locations and frame shots, but if you are persistent you will be rewarded.
You can find full details of the Red Squirrel Trail at Snaizleholme by picking up a copy of “Go Nuts For Red Squirrels” leaflet from the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.
Download my guide to photographing Red Squirrels withe Flash Photographing Red Squirrels with Flash