Everyone must surely know the sorry tale of the decline of our native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). Once a common species of our woodlands and a favourite character in various children's stories, notably Squirrel Nutkin of the Beatrix Potter books, the poor red squirrel was driven out by the importation of the American grey squirrel to Woburn Park in the late 19th century from where it rapidly spread to virtually all of lowland Britain.
The red squirrel still survives in some numbers in remote areas such as the Highlands of Scotland and some parts of the Lake District but it also thrives on some of the islands around Britain including Anglesea, the Isle of Wight and, of course, Dorset's own Brownsea Island. Extreme security measures are in place on Brownsea to monitor the reds and to stop greys arriving; it has been made something of an island fortress with detailed plans in place to deal with any grey threat that may arise.
If you want to see red squirrels then Brownsea is a good place for them and any visit there is usually rewarded with a sighting or two. They are most frequent in spring and autumn but can be seen pretty much all year round. If you go to Brownsea just stroll around until you find a group of people and it is a pretty good bet they have gathered to look at one of the islands two hundred or so reds.