Red squirrels have been under threat in the UK for a long time from humanity and the American grey squirrel. However there are some areas with a bit of help, they still thrive. One such location in the UK is on the Isle of Wight.
For example if you visit the path next to the Shanklin Chine you might be fortunate to see a red squirrel. However there are some other locations, which you might be even more lucky!
One such location is Alverstone Mead Reserve, which also can be located via reference NC17. For those walking and dependant on buses, you will probably find it more accessible via travelling to Sandown and then walking to the location, though there is also a less frequent bus to Alverstone itself. It isn’t a short walk from Sandown beach (over a mile) and you will need a good map, but once reached, depending on the time of year, you could be in for a treat!
When I visited the location I had been walking the ‘Alverstone’ Ramblers walk. I had however been following the route backwards, and wish I had visited NC17 immediately!
First of all a red squirrel came right up to my girlfriend and then decided to look at us from a tree located a metre behind us. Then as we carried on walking towards the reserve in the direction of the hide, we saw another squirrel.
Then as the hide came into sight we couldn’t believe the sight! Two red squirrels were chasing each other around a tree stump, whilst a peacock was strolling across the roof of the hide, and if that wasn’t enough, a rabbit was running away from us.
The nuts that had been left nearby by humans where a sure magnet to the location for the squirrels. These wonderful animals were used to humans, and whilst they didn’t stay still for long, it was a pleasure to watch them run around.
For many years we’ve been looking for a great location for red squirrels on the Isle of Wight, and the Alverstone Mead Reserve is definitely the best so far. I know we will revisit soon.