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Before the parapox virus wiped out most of the red squirrels at Formby Point on Merseyside, to have a red take food from your hand was quite commonplace, as long as you were still and quiet. One really memorable day I'd gone there to photograph them, but it clouded over and the light was poor, so I sat down against a tree with a bag of hazelnuts and brazil nuts. Before long I had a red squirrel coming down the tree, sitting on my shoulder and I would give it a nut, then it would go off and stash it somewhere and come back for more. At the same time I had a different one walking along my leg and sitting on my knee, again I would give it a nut which it would take away, then come back for more.
It was an amazing place to see red squirrels at close quarters, but one effect of the stress the visitor contact placed on them was that their breeding success was poorer than a few miles away at Ainsdale nature reserve where they remained truly wild and unapproachable.
 
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