My first contact with Red Squirrels was with Squirrel Nutkin in Beatrice Potter’s book. This book was one of the first things to spark my interest in natural history, the beginning of my lifetime adventure. Growing up in Surrey, a lifetime ago, the countryside was rich in wildlife, hazel coppices, old woodland with Oak, Beech and Sweet Chestnut, perfect feeding grounds for the Red Squirrel.

Sadly the Grey Squirrel came on the scene and things became less perfect. The Red Squirrel numbers dropped dramatically with only small ‘pockets’ of our indigenous creature now remaining in England.

Efforts to redress the balance in numbers are ongoing but, I was recently introduced to a little fellow by the name of Rusty Redcoat who is doing more than most to raise public awareness of the Red Squirrels’ plight. Ernie Gordon, who dramatises Rusty’s adventures, might well be the 21st century’s answer to the Squirrel Nutkins of today.

A fascinating read with a big message.

By kind permission of Stephen Rainer

Forward by Professor David J. Bellamy. OBE