By Hayley Pugh
A retired couple who built a wildlife hide in their back garden now welcome photographers from all over the world who are desperate for a glimpse of their amazing flying red squirrels.
Mark Johnson and Sue Demetriou, from Perthshire, hand built the £1,500 hide in just under two days and the pair, who are both avid wildlife photographers, intended to use it themselves.
However, after posting pictures online, requests to use the hide came flooding in from as far as Germany and the couple now hire it out around four times a week to photographers hoping to catch a glimpse of the red squirrels that frequent their three acre garden.
The hide is kitted out with leather seats and carpet – both for comfort and to reduce the noise coming from inside – and guests are treated to Sue’s renowned lemon drizzle cake and cups of tea during their photography session.
Sue and Mark, both 51, also use the hide themselves for at least an hour each day and have captured some incredible images of red squirrels mid-flight as they collect hazelnuts left out by the couple to entice them.
Sue said: “We built the hide for us but Mark posted a couple of pictures on Facebook and almost immediately people were contacting us asking if they could come and use it.
“It’s proved really popular, we have people here maybe three or four times a week and we have even had someone come all the way from Germany.
“Our garden backs onto around 1000 acres of forest land and the squirrels come from there.
“We leave hazelnuts out to encourage them but you have to be really quick to get those jumping shots because they move so fast.”
Red squirrels are less than 25cm long but can jump a distance of more than two metres.
They are officially classed as ‘near threatened’ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and are now absent from many parts of the UK.
Sue added: “They are really quite small but have the cutest little ear tufts and the distances they can jump is so impressive.
“They are incredible to watch and we’re so happy we are able to share the experience with others.
“We really are living the dream here.”