STAFF at Kilnsey Park Estate are celebrating the arrival of two new baby red squirrels, born just over two weeks ago.

The tiny pair are the latest to be bred successfully in the estate's red squirrel colony as part of its conservation programme for the species, which was started in 1998 by Vanessa Roberts, mother of the current owner Jamie Roberts.

She said: "We have had some success in breeding them over the years but sadly they can't be released into the wild any time soon. Some did escape a few years ago and lasted a few months, but in reality the danger from grey squirrels is just too great."

Though native to Britain, the number of red squirrels has declined rapidly in the last 30 years - they are out-competed for resources by the more aggressive grey squirrel and have suffered a loss of habitat.

A few grey squirrels were introduced from North America in 1876 and over the next century spread through most of Britain, in the process mostly ousting the red.

There are still a few red squirrel colonies in the Yorkshire Dales, in Scotland and the west of Wales

Some red squirrels from the programme have been re-introduced to islands off mainland Britain where they are known to be safe from greys.

The Kilnsey Park squirrels are part of the national captive breeding programme, which is attempting to keep the gene pool as large as possible to aid their survival.

The Kilnsey Park Estate is holding a Red Squirrel Day, which will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the colony, on Sunday, October 5, 11am-3pm.