Red squirrels have got to be one of the most adorable creatures in Scotland and our only native squirrel species. I went to The Lodge in Aberfoyle in search of them, there’s a wee wildlife hide there and they can be seen year round. They are beautiful wee creatures, full of character. Despite the dull day, the squirrels were out playing and feeding. It’s not just red squirrels that can be seen, there’s plenty of bird life as well…
The Lodge At Aberfoyle
The Lodge at Aberfoyle is located next to the Go Ape in Aberfoyle. They are both just up the hill from Aberfoyle town centre. There is a visitor centre with wildlife cameras that allow you to see nocturnal wildlife as well as osprey during the summer months. There are also a number of trails that you can follow, ranging in length and intensity. These woodland walks give you an excellent opportunity to spot a wide variety of wildlife. You’ll even see a beautiful waterfall just a short distance from the Lodge amongst a variety of sculptures. You may even notice the statue, known as the Lumberjills, a monument to commemorate the Women’s Timber Corps.
The best place to see wildlife is down at the small hide located a short distance from the waterfall. There are a number of feeders that attract a wide variety of bird life, and of course, squirrels. Blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and the occasional nuthatch are a few species that you might see. On one of my visits, I even saw a Sparrow-hawk!
Red Squirrels in Scotland
Red Squirrels were once widespread throughout Scotland and there are still many places you can find them. However, the red squirrel population has seriously declined. There’s only around 120,000 left today. The biggest threat to red squirrels is the invasive grey squirrel. They were introduced during the Victorian era and became a massive threat. They carry a disease known as Squirrelpox which can be fatal to red squirrels. Grey’s are also larger and able to out-compete the red’s for habitat and food. Human’s are also a big threat to their survival. Destruction of woodlands reduces their habitats and red squirrels can often be seen near road-side. They aren’t exactly street-smart. For more information on Red Squirrels and what you can do to help them, please visit; https://scottishsquirrels.org.uk/.
I know I’m not the most qualified to give photography tips but I’ll let you know what I used. My sigma 150-600 lens really came in useful here. As the viewing area is in the undergrowth, it can be quite dull. The trees block the light in areas which can be a pain from a photography point of view. In the past, I’ve had my ISO set to around 800, my aperture set to f/5.6 – f/6.3 and my shutter-speed between 1/400 and 1/1200. However, this time, it was quite a dull day and I had to adapt. I set my ISO to automatic with a maximum of 3200, my aperture to f/5 or f/5.6 and my shutter-speed between 1/100 and 1/400. As squirrels and small birds are fast moving animals, the slower shutter-speed wasn’t ideal but I think the photos turned out alright. Check out some of my photos below and let me know what you think!
I’ve also done a wee video on my trip to Aberfoyle, you can check it out at; Finding Scottish Wildlife: Red Squirrels at the Lodge, Aberfoyle. Let me know what you think! Any feedback/ criticism is welcome. If you enjoy my blogs, please consider subscribing, you can sign up below the gallery! Who knows, I may run a competition in the future with a photo print as the prize!
Thanks for reading,