This is one of my favourite places. It is the beach at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight in the UK. Shanklin chine is a natural cleft in the cliff that creates a micro climate. There are ferns and lichens growing in the chine that do not commonly inhabit the UK, the climate is milder here.
They also have red squirrels here.
Red Squirrels were native to the UK but about 100 years ago a man who owned a large country estate decided to bring in the Grey Squirrel from the United States. This larger and more outgoing animal then escaped from this estate and spread all over the country.
There are tales told that the Grey squirrels fought with the Reds, but this is a fallacy. In actuality they do not really interact. The Grey squirrel is just more active and out performs the red squirrels, they also have a better memory for remembering where they buried their nuts.
The most devastating thing about the greys though is that they carry a pox virus. They are immune to the pox virus themselves, but unfortunately the Reds are not. So not only are they out competed for food, but they are also dying because of pox.
However in parts of Scotland the Reds still reign supreme. This is because the forests are mainly pine and conifer, which do not produce sufficient food for the bigger greys, but are enough to sustain the reds. Also they have an animal, which sounds like a bird but is actually a mammal related to mink and weasels, called a Pine Marten. The Pine Marten will gladly catch and eat a squirrel for dinner, but the Reds spend most of their time high in the trees, whereas the greys spend most of their time on the ground. The Pine Marten then ensures that the Grey Squirrels cannot encroach into Red territory.
Reds can also be found on certain islands, like Mersea Island in Essex, Brownsea Island in Dorset and the Isle of Wight. They are, however, quite illusive and in all the many times I have been to the Isle of Wight I have only seen a few on my last trip. This was in Rylstone gardens, which are at the top of Shanklin Chine.
If ever you get a chance to visit Shanklin Chine and the Isle of Wight, I hope you get to see one of natures treasures. A Red Squirrel.