AN eye-catching new arrival has been spotted scurrying through the bushes of an East Oxford wildlife reserve.
A rare black squirrel, inset, was seen at Boundary Brook Nature Reserve by warden Alan Hart.
Now Oxford Urban Wildlife Group has called on residents to look out for the visitor and help record further sightings.
The bushy-tailed rodent was rustling for food in a bush when Mr Hart saw it in December, before it eyed him up and darted for cover.
He said: “It was jet black, black as the ace of spades.
“I couldn’t quite believe it at first but it was there clear as day.
“I know they are very rare, and I saw one in the park many years ago, but haven’t seen one in a long time.
“It’s another great new addition to the park and shows just how well wildlife can thrive here.”
Despite its rarity, the black squirrel is not a new species but a genetic mutation of a more commonly sighted animal.
Wendy Tobitt, spokeswoman for Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, said: “They are not a different species, like the red squirrel which is different to the grey.
“There is thought to be a colony of them in the home counties and there is a website dedicated to tracking them. If you spot one you can log it.
“I’ve no idea how rare it is to see one in Oxford but have never seen one myself.”
Boundary Brook was a derelict allotment site 25 years ago but after attention from Oxford Urban Wildlife Group it is now a three-acre nature reserve.
Secretary Janet Keene said: “It’s fantastic we have another creature to add to the variety of animals we have seen.”
For more on Oxford Urban Wildlife Group see ouwg.org.uk