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Christine captures stunning shot of red squirrel 02.09.15

by Linda McGrory

THIS native red squirrel looks straight from the pages of a Beatrix Potter book as it chomps on a peanut in an Inishowen forest.
Wildlife photographer Christine Cassidy captured the gorgeous portrait of the endangered little mammal as it recently foraged for food in Lisnagrath Woods, Muff.
The rust-coloured animal was the essence of 'bright-eyed and bushy tailed' as it stocked up for winter.
And it was clearly enjoying the nuts Christine brought along to help supplement its natural woodland diet of forest fruits, seeds and berries.
Native red squirrel pictured feeding at Lisnagrath Woods, Muff, by Christine Cassidy.
Adult red squirrels can grow to about 25cm in length and weigh up to 400g.
They use their characteristically bushy tail for balance during their aerial acrobatics in the tree-tops.
Christine, who is a founding member of Wild Inishowen and vice-chair of the North West Red Squirrel Group in Derry, said the peninsula had become an important habitat for the conservation of the protected species.
She said its coastal nature was less hospitable to the invasive grey squirrel which is twice the size and brasher than the timid, indigenous red.
Grey squirrels, introduced here from America in 1911, also carry a pox virus that is fatal to the native species.
"There is quite a healthy population of red squirrels in and around Inishowen. A few grey squirrels have been seen in Inishowen but not as many grey squirrels as we would have in the north west," Christine explained.
"The greys use tree lines to move across areas so thankfully there wouldn't be as many tree lines around Inishowen and the coastal areas of the peninsula.
"We have a few good sites in the north west were the red squirrels are doing well, unfortunately in other areas of Derry the red squirrels have moved on due to development, disturbance and the presence of grey squirrels," she added.
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