Drum Castle’s red squirrel zone

Red squirrels have made Drum Castle their domain.
Red squirrels have made Drum Castle their domain.

A drive to protect Scotland’s red squirrel population has been given a boost.

The National Trust for Scotland has announced that Drum Castle, near Drumoak, has been confirmed as a ‘red-only’ zone.

The conservation charity has been assisting the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project by taking part in the annual monitoring programme at the historic Aberdeenshire estate.

The work was carried out by Hannah Patterson, a long-term volunteer with the Trust’s North East Ranger Service.

Hair samples are gathered on sticky plastic strips on the inside of feeder box lids.

Hannah explained: “The survey is carried out from March to the end of April each year, with samples being collected every fortnight.

“These are then sent to Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels for analysis. The survey has found that Drum Castle is only home to red squirrels, which is fantastic news for anyone involved in protecting this important Scottish species.”

Hannah has also been running camera traps in the ancient woods of Drum, which appear to back up the findings, and she has captured some impressive footage.

Steve Willis, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels North East project officer said: “This is great news for Drum and is even more significant as it appears to signal a return of reds in this area.

“From surveys in the Aberdeenshire area, it looks like greys are confined to woods in and immediately around the city and so far, we don’t have any evidence that they are spreading into new areas, so far.”

The news gives hope to many conservation experts and organisations, like the National Trust for Scotland, who are working hard to protect the red squirrel for future generations.

The charity carried out a squirrel census last year, finding that there was evidence that red squirrels were returning to areas like Fife and Perthshire after decades of absence. The survey also highlighted the strategic importance of Angus in the work to protect red squirrels.