There are many differing opinions on this, but when it comes to animals you find in the wild, the red squirrel is definitely the pick of the bunch. This tiny little squirrel is famous for its bright orangey-red fur, tall ears and bushy tail. You'll find them roaming up and down trees across different sections of the country, and they are by far one of the cutest critters you can photograph in Great Britain.
Speaking of which, how do you photograph the red squirrel in England? It's all about learning what you can about this animal, such as its habitat and behaviour. Get to know this, along with when you should photograph them, and you'll soon be taking the best shots around!
Red squirrel habitat
The red squirrel habitat is described as coniferous, mixed and broadleaved woodland. In simple terms, they need to be in woodland to survive. This is because they get all of their food from the nearby plants and trees in the woods.
Where are you most likely to find these cute animals? Well, in years gone by, you could find them all over the UK. However, they have since become a species that needs to be conserved due to dwindling numbers. Sadly, your only chances of seeing red squirrels are now in Scotland, Northern England, Wales and some islands on the South Coast of England.
A few of the best spots for red squirrel sightings include:
Galloway Foret Park, Dumfries
Whinlatter Forest Park, Cumbria
Formby Forest, Merseyside
Parkhurst Forest, Isle of Wight
Glenmore Forest Park, Highlands
Red squirrel behaviour
Red squirrels are at their most active during the daytime hours, though they tend to rest during midday in the hotter months. You can typically find their drey (nest) in tree forks, and you will often see them running across branches foraging for food or materials to build their nest.
They mainly eat tree seeds - particularly hazelnuts and seeds from conifer cones. So, if you are setting up some feeding bait to lure them into a shot, try using half cracked hazelnuts and walnuts. The red squirrel has a long breeding season that begins in mid-winter and can extend all the way to the summer. They have babies - called kits or kittens - typically in March, though it depends on the squirrel, and some even have have two litters in one year.
Best time to photograph red squirrels
The wonderful thing about photographing red squirrels is that you can take stunning photos of them anytime of the year. Typically people think of photographing them in the snow but photographing red squirrels is in the autumn is a great choice too because not only does the woodland scenery look incredible, but you will also have a great chance of spotting them as they become really active. Even though squirrels do not hibernate, they do store up food for those horrible winter days, so they'll be busy roaming around foraging and storing up food. They also don't have little kits to worry about so they may be a bit more relaxed and stick around for longer giving you great opportunities to photograph their fiery red/orange fur looking fantastic against the greens and rusts of the forest. If you would like to try and photograph red squirrel kits you will need to wait until spring. As they can have kits anytime between March - May its a good idea to try and keep an eye on activity so you know when the kits are starting to venture out of the drey to find their own food and start exploring their new habitat. They can be a bit nervous at first so be really quiet and patient!
There is no doubt that the small red squirrel is an adorable animal that we are very lucky to have here in the UK. Sadly, its numbers are dwindling, though efforts are being made to conserve these lovely critters. If you're a photography enthusiast with an eye for nature, add the red squirrel to your bucket list of animals to photograph.
We've taken the time to find a fantastic place in North Yorkshire to photograph Red Squirrels. Why not join me for the day where we have exclusive use of two hides and an area of woodland for the entire workshop. The woodland hide provides opportunities for natural and action red squirrel shots and the reflection pool provides opportunities to photograph something creative and magical. For more information and to check availability please click here.