NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen red squirrel sighting is 'city's closest' in decades

Red squirrel Image copyright Gina Ganzenmueller
Image caption Gina Ganzenmueller managed to take a photo of the red squirrel in her garden

A red squirrel spotted near an Aberdeen park is thought to be the first to have been seen so close to the city centre in decades.

The sighting was in a garden north of Duthie Park, near the River Dee.

The area has only known grey squirrels since the intruding population took over in the 1970s.

Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels said it was one of the closest sightings to Aberdeen city centre in the project's 10-year history.

Gina Ganzenmueller, who managed to take photos of the visitor to her garden, said: "After years of grey squirrel sightings I've finally seen a red squirrel in my back garden.

"I was so excited, I couldn't believe my eyes. I only have a small garden, but Duthie Park is not far away."

Grey squirrels were first introduced to Aberdeen in the 1970s, rapidly spreading throughout the city and into surrounding Aberdeenshire.

The region's native red squirrel populations declined rapidly through competition for food and living space.

Dedicated volunteers

Years of control work carried out by Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels, a project led by Scottish Wildlife Trust, has already removed grey squirrels from much of Aberdeenshire.

Red squirrels have begun to recolonise many areas, including the outskirts of Aberdeen.

Dr Gwen Maggs, Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels Conservation Officer for North East Scotland, said: "The project has been working along the River Dee for 10 years, with help from dedicated volunteers participating in our trap-loan scheme.

"As a result of this targeted grey squirrel control red squirrels have gradually returned to North Deeside, with populations establishing through Peterculter, Milltimber, Bieldside and Cults. In 2017 red squirrels arrived at Robert Gordon University.

"With healthy populations already in Hazlehead and Seaton Park, we hope that they will soon return to Duthie Park for everyone to enjoy."

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