Grasmere Red Squirrels Update 16/8/19

Reds: Our reds are doing well this year with kits from second litters appearing regularly. There have been very few sightings from the central village, also none from the Helmside/Town Head area.

We carry out the annual population census in August/September so do tell us how many reds you see in a specific location both the number seen simultaneously and additional individuals you can identify.

We must all continue to be vigilant and look for signs of lesions on eyes and lips and general lethargy.

Greys: To the end of July 2019 we have culled 61 greys – this is a relatively high number. David Birkett our part time ranger and Stuart Dickson an expert volunteer shooter have both been kept very busy.

A new full time Squirrel Ranger has been appointed to work in the Westmorland RS area to the South of Grasmere down to Grizedale Forest, as part of a new red squirrel project called ‘Grasmere to Grizedale’ - see below for details.

Funding: Thank you to everyone who has donated in 2019. If the reds are to be preserved the only way this can be achieved is to have sustainable funding from the businesses in the village. The hotels benefit from the red squirrels as their customers love seeing them – so please enable us to continue by making a financial contribution! Please call Jane Cooper on 015394 35589 for further information.

IF YOU SEE A GREY ANYWHERE AROUND GRASMERE (or a sickly looking red) PLEASE TELL US IMMEDIATELY with an exact description of the location and the time it was seen – Don’t leave it till tomorrow!       

Text David Birkett on 07775 904236

and Text Stuart Dickson 07980 893459 or Phone Trevor Cooper on 015394 35502 or Jane Cooper 35589 or Stewart Sutcliffe 35263 and 07817 326524.

If still no response email grasmerersg@gmail.com and we’ll pick it up when we look at the photos from the cameras.


News of the reds

Our reds are doing well this year with kits from second litters appearing in most areas. So far this year there have been very few sightings from the central village, also none from the Helmside/Town Head area.

We carry out the annual population census in August/September so do tell us how many reds you see in a specific location both the number seen simultaneously and additional individuals you can identify.

We must all continue to be vigilant and look for signs of lesions on eyes and lips and general lethargy.

The Allan Bank NT property continues to be a very popular place for the public to see reds and GRSG continues to work very closely with them. Elaine Taylor, the manager of Allan Bank, is swimming across 10 tarns in the Lake District to raise money to cover the cost of bird and squirrel food and contribute to grey squirrel control. Her target is £1000. If you’d like to donate to her Just Giving page, you can do so here https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/allanbank….

Greys

Up to the end of July 2019 we have culled 61 greys in Grasmere. Though this is less than in 2018, it is the 3rd highest year since 2012. David Birkett our part time ranger and Stuart Dickson an expert volunteer shooter have both been kept very busy.

If you see a grey anywhere in Grasmere, their contact numbers are at the top of this newsletter.

44% of greys were on the East side from the Rydal direction and 56% were on the West side from the Elterwater/Skelwith direction over Red Bank.

The chart below shows what has happened in the first 7 months in the last 4 years, the increasing number of greys since 2016 is of great concern.

To understand the figures in these graphs and charts, one needs to be aware that up to 2008 grey control was primarily reactive and there would have been greys breeding here. In 2009 we implemented a clearance strategy to eliminate greys starting at the north of our area and working south. From 2010 onwards, all years are based on our ‘Zero tolerance’ strategy in Grasmere and are directly comparable because they represent the number of greys entering Grasmere. From 2010 we started pre-emptive trapping on our frontiers and at the end of 2012 we installed cameras sending near real-time photos from the frontier areas. Our objective is to eliminate all greys entering our area as soon as possible to prevent them passing pox to our reds. The numbers coming to Grasmere fluctuate depending on the amount of grey control carried out outside our borders to the South (Skelwith/Elterwater and Rydal), the harshness of winters and availability of natural food. The area adjacent to us to our South East and West is Westmorland RS where volunteers carry out grey control. There was a Loughrigg RSG throughout 2007-9. Mike Green was a full time RSNE ranger working to our South from Jan 2012 to Aug 2016. Matt Stuart is a full time RSNE Ranger and has carried out several man weeks work to our South between Oct 2016 and Sep 2017, full time Oct & Nov 2017, about 6 weeks in 2018, and 3 weeks in Spring 2019. The low number in 2016 is largely due to David Birkett working closely with our then ranger, Robert Dixon, outside our borders. I believe Rydal Hall have done some grey control on their land, but I haven’t seen any statistics.

Grasmere to Grizedale Project (G2G)

The key outcome of this project is to restore the predominance of the native red squirrel by reducing competition and disease risk posed by grey squirrels within the G2G project area. Through collaborative effort, the project will result in far fewer greys entering Grasmere, enabling red squirrels in this stronghold to thrive. It will also allow reds to recolonise woodlands to the south where they are currently either absent or present in very low numbers. This will help move the red squirrel line south as the project progresses.

A project steering group has been established to oversee the direct management of the project, consisting of members of WRS, GRSG and RSNE. There will be wider consultation with other partners from the South Cumbria Squirrel Management Forum, including National Trust, LDNPA, Forestry England, and local private landowners and managers.

The partnership will work closely together to ensure that the project is properly resourced, with buy-in from local communities including local landowners and businesses, and that the aims and resulting outcomes are well communicated. It will be vital that local landowners are encouraged to participate, and WRS are already engaged with a number of these, including Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, Bryerswood estate, Colthouse, Broomriggs and Matson Ground.

The main focus of the project will be practical action on the ground. This will include the following:

1)      targeted grey squirrel management

2)      a standardised red and grey squirrel monitoring programme

3)      data collection, analysis and dissemination.

This action will be delivered by a combination of staff, contractors and volunteers who will work in close collaboration to ensure maximum coverage and effect.  In addition, a campaign to raise the profile of the project will be delivered, helping to inspire longer-term support from local communities, landowners and businesses.

The new full time squirrel ranger is Jack Edmondson who lives locally and is initially working in the Tarn Hows area. He can be contacted on 07500 170101 jack.edmondson33@gmail.com

The project is being managed by RSNE. Initial funding is from the NT who have been successful in obtaining a grant for 5 years from the Countryside Stewardship Scheme covering the woodlands to the Southern part of the area. Further funds need to be raised.

Note that the Grasmere area will continue to be operated as it is now by GRSG who will continue to fund and manage grey control in the area.

Funding

The National Trust continue to be our main funder, but we do need more money to continue to pay for our ranger.

The Grasmere Gallop is now being organised by Gaynor Price of Pure Outdoors.  This year’s Gallop raised £349 for our squirrels from the competitors and Gaynor will match that, so another £349. Next year’s Gallop is being held on 30th May  http://www.pureoutdoorsevents.co.uk/ .

Elaine Nelson is successfully selling postcards of red squirrels in Sam Read bookshop and is raising a considerable amount of money for our squirrels.

We receive regular contributions from Sue Hearn who runs the Antique Fairs in the village. She collects donations from visitors and stall holders as well as the profits of toy squirrels sales.

If you would like to donate to the conservation of the red squirrels in Grasmere, please send me a cheque or use a collection box. There are collection boxes at: Heaton Cooper, Regatta, Post Office, Mountain Warehouse, Trespass, Tweedies, the Garden Centre and the Daffodil Hotel.

Many thanks to everyone who has donated.

GRSG and the NT have made great efforts to get Grasmere businesses involved, so far we haven’t received any funds from them. If the reds are to be preserved the only way this can be achieved is to have sustainable funding from the businesses in the village.

The hotels benefit from the red squirrels as their customers love seeing them – so please enable us to continue by making a financial contribution! Please call Jane Cooper on 015394 35589 for further information.

How you can help us

We are pleased to hear from anyone who wants to sponsor the group, offer help, purchase their own equipment or are willing to have a collecting box in your hotel or business. By contributing to the group, you are helping the red squirrels to survive. All contributions are most welcome – thank you.

We would welcome anyone who is willing to share the effort involved in monitoring traps in local woodlands (mainly White Moss and Red Bank) – this just involves walking round, morning or evening when you are available, and phoning someone if action is needed. We’d also like people to walk through woodlands from time to time looking for squirrels. Please do get in contact with me if you can help with these activities.

Many thanks to everyone who has contacted us with local sightings – especially greys! – they are really helpful.

Please inform me if you wish to stop receiving these emails and when you change email address.

Regards, Stewart Sutcliffe 015394 35263, 07817 326524  s@suts.co.uk , Grasmere Red Squirrel Group


Grasmere Red Squirrel Group: There are no subscription fees to the group (if you received this email you are a member!). We have a bank account and are pleased to accept donations from individuals and organisations to enable our work helping our red squirrels.

If you are willing to have a collecting box in your hotel or business – do ask me for one. By contributing to the group you are helping the red squirrels to survive. All contributions are most welcome – thank you.

Where to see Red Squirrels in Grasmere

They are difficult to spot in the wild. The best places to see them are at the Allan Bank NT property (non NT members have to pay an entry fee for the grounds), the track alongside Greenhead Gill, Red Bank Road & the track through Redbank Wood, the drive to Lancrigg & the permissive path through the grounds and White Moss on the ‘Coffin trail’ to Rydal.

To feed or not to feed the squirrels when Squirrelpox is about?

Providing the feeder is watched closely it may be better to continue to feed, otherwise remove all feeders including bird feeders that squirrels can access.

Feeders must be disinfected. Boiling water can be used though we use a strong disinfectant called Anigene HLD4V which is environmentally friendly and does not need rinsing off. If you bring an empty 500ml spray detergent bottle to any of us we can fill it with diluted disinfectant: Stewart 35263, Trevor 35502, Jane 35589. Observe safety instructions: do not inhale the mist and wash hands after use. Diluted mix has a shelf life of 6 months (we renew after 3). See http://medi-mark.co.uk/images/uploads/Anigene_Information_sheet.pdf . We buy 1 litre unfragranced bottles from https://www.viovet.co.uk/Anigene-HLD4V-High-Level-Disinfectant-Cleaner/c19401/ .

Types of squirrels feeder

Boxes with lift up lids are used like this one or the other rectangular designs (not the circular one)   https://birdsbistro.co.uk/product/birds-bistro-squirrel-feeder/  . The feeder should prevent rain entering at the hinge end of the lid and it is best to mount it tilted forward so water doesn’t enter from the base.

Squirrels will also use bird feeders, chewing peanuts through a metal mesh causes abrasions to their lips and mouth – exposure to the virus on this area can allow the virus to enter their system. Use feeders of this type http://www.thebirdsbistro.co.uk/shop/caged-feeders providing the aperture is small enough to exclude red squirrels. This probably means a mesh of not more than 30mm square. Do tell me which feeders exclude red squirrels and if there are other types of bird peanut feeders that exclude red squirrels. N.b. Trevor drills a round hole of 48 mm to allow reds to escape from traps but this also allows small greys to get through.

Our information sheets - ask me for a copy.

Red Squirrels in Grasmere – all about the red conservation work in Grasmere (4 pages)

Dealing with Grey Squirrels – this is for householders monitoring traps

Instructions for holiday homes – this is to place in the property for guests to call us

Good Practice for feeding reds and controlling greys

News of Grasmere red squirrels

The Allan Bank Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NationalTrustAllanBank/?fref=nf and Twitter account @AllanBankNT .

Useful Resources

The definitive book about Red Squirrels: The Eurasian Red Squirrel (English Edition), Bosch & Lurz, 2012, ISBN 9783894322588.

Trail camera information (though he no longer supplies the cameras) http://www.ronburyswildlife.com/p/camera-sales.html

Squirrel and bird food suppliers: Birds Bistro of Penruddock, http://thebirdsbistro.co.uk/. Please order direct from them 017684 83100. We use the Maize Free Luxury Red Squirrel Mix. They usually deliver to Grasmere on Tuesdays.

Links to Red Squirrel organisations in our area and nationally

Westmorland Red Squirrel Societyhttp://www.westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk/ the secretary is Gail Armstrong secretary@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk . Do look at the map of red sightings on their website and their newsletter. You can report red and grey sightings in their area direct to them via their website.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Westmorland-Red-Squirrels/596596750409255?ref=stream

Northern Red Squirrels is the umbrella group for Red Squirrel Groups see http://northernredsquirrels.org.uk/ for the latest newsletter and to report red and grey sightings outside the Grasmere area. The chairman of NRS Cumbria is Julie Bailey info@penrithredsquirrels.org.uk .

Red Squirrels Northern England http://www.rsne.org.uk/ was launched by Prince Charles in 2011. The project manager is Simon O’Hare Simon.O'Hare@rsne.org.uk 

UK Squirrel Accord http://squirrelaccord.uk/index.html consists of 35 leading woodland, timber industry and conservation organisations in the UK. It was created at the invitation of HRH Prince Charles – who had the aim of bringing a concerted and coordinated approach to securing the future of our red squirrels and woodlands, and to controlling the introduced grey squirrel. Currently they are without a manager but we do have a local contact: Bob Cartwright  who is on the committee representing Volunteers (Deputy Chair of Westmorland Red Squirrels) bob@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk .

Red Squirrel Survival Trust http://www.rsst.org.uk/ is a national charity established to ensure the conservation and protection of the red squirrel in the UK and was launched by Prince Charles in 2009.

The UK Red Squirrel Group (UKRSG) https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/uk-red-squirrel-group/ led by the Forestry Commission aims to co-ordinate and raise awareness of the conservation needs of our native red squirrel and the action being taken to deliver this under the UK Red Squirrel Species Action Plan .

British Red Squirrel www.britishredsquirrel.org is a forum for all those interested in red squirrel conservation and grey squirrel control, providing an information hub with links to current activity across the British Isles.

The European Squirrel Initiative  https://www.europeansquirrelinitiative.org/ was founded in June 2002. Its aim is to create, develop and maintain a campaign to win the support and commitment of governments throughout Europe in securing the future of the red squirrel through the effective control of the grey squirrel.

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Westmorland Red Squirrels E-News - August 2019

August 2019

In this issue, we’re pleased to introduce Jack Edmondson, the G2G ranger. Also, we celebrate wonderful donations from two of our corporate supporters. Sadly we report a possible case of squirrel pox virus in a red squirrel at Skelwith. Finally, in a somewhat trimmed back Summer E-News, we’d welcome your views on previous editions and future format. In short, we want to offer news that you want to read!

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WESTMORLAND’S WORLD

Grasmere to Grizedale (G2G) Project

In June we mentioned the exciting news that, thanks to a partnership between Westmorland Red Squirrels, the National Trust, the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group and Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE), we had secured five years of funding to intensify squirrel management between Grasmere and Grizedale. Building on the invaluable work of colleagues to protect red squirrels in Grasmere and evidence from our Rusland’s Reds project of red squirrel presence to the south of Grizedale, RSNE has moved quickly to appoint Jack Edmondson as red squirrel ranger.
After a recent planning meeting with our volunteer coordinators operating in and around his new patch, Bob Cartwright sat down with Jack to talk about the man behind the badge.

Jack Edmondson

Jack Edmondson

Jack and volunteer co-ordinators in action

Jack and volunteer co-ordinators in action

Bob: Welcome to the job, Jack. It’s good see a local lad step into this important role.
Jack: I’m delighted. I was born and raised in Coniston, attended John Ruskin School, and ever since the age of 14 I’ve been reporting red and grey squirrels that I’ve spotted while out walking the dog. I got to know Mike [our Ambleside and Langdale area coordinator], learned how to trap and shoot greys and my interest in red squirrel conservation grew from there. I took the two-year Level Three course in Game and Countryside Management at Newton Rigg, which led to a gamekeeper’s job in the Angus Glens of Scotland where I’ve been for the last two and a half years.
Bob: So what brought you back home?
Jack: This job! A friend tipped me off about the advert and it was too good an opportunity to miss. I’m 20 years of age now and it’s an opportunity to give something back. If I can help bump up red squirrel populations and raise awareness about how special our native squirrel is to the area, I will be satisfied. My initial focus is on Tarn Hows, where reds are definitely breeding, which is an encouraging sign. I’m working with the National Trust’s staff and volunteers there but plan to spread further afield, liaising with other landowners to establish a comprehensive programme of grey control and red squirrel monitoring across the patch.
Bob: You’ve been in the job for just five weeks and are already making a difference. What else do you want to achieve in this five-year project?
Jack: Two things: Firstly, working with all woodland owners to complete the jigsaw of grey control and red squirrel conservation across the area. It’s the only way we will protect our red squirrels from squirrel pox virus that grey squirrels carry, and reduce competition for natural food on which the reds rely for breeding success. Secondly, gathering support from businesses and the local community for what we’re doing. I’m happy to meet anyone and everyone to discuss how we can work together, and come and speak to parish councils and other community groups. My email address is jack.edmondson33@gmail.com or call me on 07500 170101.
Bob: Thanks Jack. We at Westmorland Red Squirrels are delighted to have you on board. I know I speak for our project partners in the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group, National Trust and Red Squirrels Northern England in wishing you every success.


Corporate Support

We’ve mentioned before the support we’ve had from Logs Direct at Halton for our work in the Rusland Valley. Last month they generously gave us another £500 thanks to donations from their customers. And following the return of red squirrels to The Samling Hotel near Ambleside after a sustained programme of grey control, Mike, our area coordinator, was delighted to receive on our behalf a £100 ‘thank you’. Thanks to both.

Stephen Talbot of Logs Direct with Bob Cartwright

Stephen Talbot of Logs Direct with Bob Cartwright

Mike Nurse at The Samling

Mike Nurse at The Samling


Squirrel Pox at Skelwith

A recent suspected case of squirrel pox virus at Skelwith has rung alarm bells. A red squirrel found with trauma around its mouth, and clearly in a bad way, was reported to one of our supporters. Unfortunately, it failed to survive and the carcass has been sent to the vets for analysis. Please look out for any signs of apparently suffering reds including lesions around the mouth, eyes and paws. You can report suspected cases to secretary@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk. And please re-double your disinfectant regime on traps and feeders.

Example of squirrel pox virus © Sarah McNeil

Example of squirrel pox virus © Sarah McNeil


E-News Review

After three years of issuing our E-News, we’d like to know what you think of it? All thoughts are welcome – good, bad or ugly! These will help us decide how best to meet your needs as a subscriber.
Please help by completing our short survey here. Thank you!
Please submit your comments by 31 August 2019. To be eligible for a prize - our 2020 Lakeland Squirrels calendar - please include your email address at the end of the survey.


2020 Calendars

To order a calendar email to:   calendars@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk

To order a calendar email to: calendars@westmorlandredsquirrels.org.uk

Westmorland Red Squirrels

Grasmere to Grizedale Project (G2G)

G2G is an exciting project that, for the first time, could make a significant breakthrough in securing the conditions needed for red squirrels to survive and thrive in and around the Hawkshead area. With Grasmere to the north, the Furness Fells to the west, Windermere to the east and Grizedale Forest to the south, the area’s woodlands offer prime habitat for reds. But they have become home to a growing number of greys that prove hard to catch in its patchwork of woodlands.

A positive future for reds between Grizedale and Grasmere?
© RSNE

The National Trust owns much of the woodland and with the benefit of Countryside Stewardship funding and in partnership with Westmorland Red Squirrels and the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group, Red Squirrels Northern England will shortly recruit a full-time red squirrel ranger for the area. Their role is to liaise with all landowners and work alongside volunteers to implement a comprehensive programme of monitoring and control aimed at reducing grey squirrel presence, allowing the area’s red squirrels to flourish. For more details, here is a link to a summary of the programme.

Rusland’s Reds – the sequel

Our Heritage Lottery funding ran out in June but happily, money is in the bank to sustain our work in and around Rusland for the foreseeable future. We need to raise about £3,000 a year to buy cameras, traps and bait; pay contractors; and produce publicity and educational material.

Rusland woodland
© Rusland Horizons

Thanks to generous support from the Graythwaite Estate, Logs Direct, Forestry England and the Lake District National Park Authority, we have gathered sufficient funds to continue our work for at least the next two years. We’ll continue to raise funds, of course, and seek assistance from a variety of sources including the new Rusland Horizons Trust that has been established as a permanent successor to the original Rusland Horizons Landscape Partnership Scheme. Our most important support is from the local community and many local people have volunteered their time to secure a permanent future for Rusland’s Reds. We are most grateful. If you would like to donate to support this project or any of our activities, please go to the link at the end of this issue.

Annual General Meeting

Our well-attended annual meeting in May saw all officers and trustees re-appointed. Our guest speaker, Craig Shuttleworth from Red Squirrel Trust Wales, focussed on the potential for red squirrel reintroductions. If we’re to save our native red squirrels, he argued, there would be times when we might need to reintroduce and reinforce existing remaining populations. Previous programmes have not always succeeded, causing many influential organisations to doubt their value. Recently, Craig has helped the UK Squirrel Accord develop a Protocol for red squirrel captive breeding, public enclosures and release programmes in the UK. This establishes best practice and ensures compliance with International Union for Nature Conservation guidance. The Protocol is due for publication in the next few months.

Craig Shuttleworth

RSNE Annual Survey

The Spring survey of red and grey squirrels across the north of England is now complete for another year. Thank you to everyone who took part. Here is an image captured when three reds popped up in Clappersgate during the survey period.

Three red squirrels near Clappersgate

The collated results and analysis of the 2019 survey will be available later in the year. 2018’s surveys can be viewed here.

AREA REPORTS

Reports of grey squirrel sightings have risen sharply in June. Luckily, this has coincided with a willingness to enter traps, for the time being, at least. It is too early to say yet whether this is a worrying increase in numbers or simply part of the natural cycle where greys become more visible when looking for food on the ground.

Grey contemplating a trap in Kentmere

One of our volunteers has had great success shooting greys feasting on Wych Elm seeds, the first seeds to ripen in the Spring. This is something to bear in mind as other natural food ripens - judging by the blossom this year, it could be a bumper crop.

Wych Elm seeds
© Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust

Ambleside and Langdale

After a quiet start to the year, activity has picked up considerably in the last few weeks. More and more reds are being reported: one was seen in woodland next to the Health Centre in Ambleside and others have been seen in areas where they have not been seen for many many years. The more success we enjoy, the more people come forward offering to take a trap in their garden, which is very positive.
We have recently established a good working relationship with the Wildlife Conservation department of the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside Campus. We now have permission to operate within their grounds and enjoy great co-operation with staff and students.

Ambleside campus

Windermere

A slow start to the season saw few greys removed from the area. June however, has looked more hopeful as squirrels move into new territories. Reports of tree damage due to bark stripping have increased recently, which indicates there are a number of greys around. We continue to remain vigilant and hope to remove as many as possible, both to minimise damage to our trees and protect our woodland habitat for our red squirrels.

OTHER SQUIRREL SNIPPETS

Outreach work

Not all of our pest control activity is confined to south Cumbria and north Lancashire. One of our members, who moved to York for family reasons, has built up a great relationship with the National Trust’s estate managers over there and has a licence to control greys on one of their properties. After the greys wrecked his early feeders, he has now turned to armour plating for the replacement. Those tykes must be pretty aggressive!

Squirrel Feeder near York
© Brian Jowett

EVENTS

A collection box with a difference

If our red squirrels are to stay healthy, they must always be able to access sufficient food. Westmorland Red Squirrel’s volunteers make sure by topping up our many wooden feeder boxes with nuts throughout the year. Reds quickly get to know in which trees these are situated; in fact, they can often be found waiting near a box when a volunteer arrives with fresh supplies. But nuts aren’t cheap and a red squirrel can eat a £3 box of hazelnuts and peanuts every week and sometimes more.
Earlier in the year, members John and Wendy Phillips wondered if funds might be raised at shows and other events for squirrel food. John set to work making a traditional feeder box and then cut a coin slot in the top. Wendy, meanwhile, sourced a life-size red squirrel youngster made from resin, which is now safely screwed to the top of the box. Thanks both!

As always, we look forward to meeting old friends and new at our stand. We are now well into the show season, recently attending Countryfest at the Westmorland Showground at Crooklands (below) and an Open Day at Myerscough College. Come and say hello at any of the events we’re attending later in the summer. Details are on our website.
And if you have a couple of coins in your pocket, why not pop them into our new collection box?! All donations are welcome and they will help keep our local red squirrels fit and healthy throughout the year.

Donate

Volunteer

Report a squirrel sighting

Join our group

Copyright © 2019 Westmorland Red Squirrels, All rights reserved.

Morpeth and District Red Squirrels

Morpeth and District Red Squirrels

Welcome to the summer edition of the MADRS Newsletter 2019

This summer is proving to be an extremely busy one for MADRS along with lots of other Red Squirrel conservation groups in Northumberland. We have seen influxes of grey squirrels into many areas and our control team have been very busy. Over 750 greys have been removed so far. At this point I must also say a huge Thank You to Kate and Judy who have been driving round like silly nits collecting grey squirrels from numerous garden traps. This has been an almost endless process these last few weeks with sometimes two trips to the same household in a day...plus others! We are desperately short of help to deal with these and if anyone was able to help collect and deliver garden trap squirrels to a member of the control team we would really appreciate you getting in touch. Many hands make light work!

As alway, we stress that the grey control is an unfortunate necessity of red conservation. It is simply not possible to protect red squirrels without controlling the invasive grey squirrel.

We hope you enjoy reading the newsletter and if you have any articles or photos you'd like to contribute to a future edition, please email them through to us.

Our contact details
Mobile 07570 897979
Email enquiries@madredsquirrels.com
You can also visit our website www.madredsquirrels.com  

PICNIC IN THE PARK
Anyone in Morpeth on July 14th will have been aware of an amazing event being held in Carlisle Park... the annual 'Picnic in the Park'. This is a free event for everyone. Local churches provide burgers and hot dogs (including vegetarian options of course), and music rings out as all sorts of different bands play during the afternoon.

MADRS were invited to attend this year and our position was appropriately located between the RSPB and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, a very “wildlife conservation” focussed part of the park.

We met many people who were interested in our work and keen to know where they may see native red squirrels. A lot were surprised to find out reds are alive and well in woods around Morpeth and some have even been spotted in gardens in the town. Special mention must go to Brain Craske who made bird boxes, squirrel feeders and garden ornaments for us to sell on our stall. Local gardens will now be more attractive to wild life than before.

We were really impressed by the support provided by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust who organised the event. Air Cadets, Northumberland County Council services staff and the Trust team were all on hand to give any practical help that was needed. Litter was collected throughout the day and stewards directed traffic at the beginning and end of the event to ensure stallholders got in and out of the park safely. As I left mid-afternoon the sun was out, the KEV 1 steel band was playing, the boats were busy on the river and the park was full of people enjoying themselves. Morpeth looked wonderful.

Kate Weightman

NORMAN DYSON
It is with great sadness that we heard about the death of Norman Dyson, a member of MADRS for many years. Norman was a lovely kind man and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jenny and family at this very sad time.

Sue Mitchell

HAUXLEY NATURE RESERVE REDS
Top photo by Ian Burnell, Hauxley
Lower photo by Pauline Gilbertson, Hauxley

HAUXLEY NATURE RESERVE UPDATE

Those of you who received our previous newsletter will doubtless remember the worrying information regarding grey squirrels having been spotted close to the reserve, with its resident colony of native reds. It is good to be able to report that Northumberland Wildlife Trust, through its red squirrel project, Red Squirrels Northern England, have taken remedial action by employing a ranger to undertake grey control in the area. A meeting was held on July 17th to encourage more local community involvement in red conservation. Hopefully this will result in the woodlands around Hauxley being kept clear of greys and preventing any incursions into the reserve.

Kate Weightman

FORESTRY COMMISSION PETITION
Please consider signing and sharing the petition "Forestry Commission England: End the killing of red squirrels and other rare wildlife: Change the UK Forestry Act"

You can read more and sign the petition here:
http://chng.it/wDZ4nJR29L

Kind Regards
Julie Bailey

RAY WIND FARM PROJECT.

Red Squirrels Northern England (the red squirrel “arm” of The Northumberland Wild Life Trust) has been awarded a substantial grant by the Ray Wind Farm fund to undertake red conservation in the area covered by the wind farm. Although this is right on the edge of our area we were invited to join a steering group comprising all those voluntary groups who are working there.

The North Tyne Squirrel Group, Coquetdale Group and Wallington estate are all represented along with Northeast Red Squirrels, a charity set up to support voluntary groups, whose representatives attend as they have an interest in any conservation work in this area.

Northern Red Squirrels, the umbrella organisation for local voluntary groups is also part of the group as are the members of RSNE and the ranger they now employ to do grey control work in the Ray Wind Farm area. Between them there is a comprehensive body of local knowledge about red conservation, local land owners and the woodlands where wildlife can be found. Integral to the project is work being done with landowners interested in signing up to the Countryside Stewardship scheme, a government funded way of paying landowners to undertake grey control on their property. It is hoped that if enough estates become involved the project will be self-sustainable after the current grant runs out. RSNE are also planning to recruit local residents who are interested in red conservation, they will become part of the existing voluntary groups in addition to working with the project ranger.

The Project is accountable to the RWF Board, Chaired by one of the local landowners who is extremely supportive of red conservation. The meetings I attend on behalf of MAD RS hope to be able to offer support and give advice on local issues which will enhance the effectiveness of the RSNE staff.  

Kate Weightman

CARBON NEUTRAL BUT A TREE TAX?
There is a current petition open to signatures asking parliament to remove VAT from trees, tree guards and other tree planting products. At a time when the government is seeking to be carbon neutral (and trees are the best means of achieving this), why do these items carry a taxation?

One of the great threats to our native red squirrel comes from the increasingly large number of building programmes across the country, and the felling of trees that is often involved. The destruction of their habitat often drives reds away in search of a safer environment and anyone wishing to help by planting trees must pay VAT to do so.

Woodruff Wood have just placed their order for trees for planting in this autumn/winter. If they didn't have to pay VAT, they could have ordered an extra 300 trees!

With all the tree pests and diseases now present in the UK, including ash dieback which is starting to hit hard everywhere - you just have to look at the ash trees as you pass along the lanes to see them dying - (see photo below) - it is more important than ever to be planting trees for the future. By removing VAT, it really would make a difference in increasing the number of trees which get planted.

Tree planting is something that everyone can do....you don't have to be a woodland owner. Buy a tree from a local garden centre or tree nursery and plant it in your garden. 

...And interestingly, in the red squirrel extinction debate, MPs emphasised the need to plant more trees for red squirrel habitat and biodiversity on the whole.

Woodland owners and members of the public are being urged to sign this petition. If you are interested, here is the link:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/264764

NOT JUST RED SQUIRRELS BENEFIT FROM GREY CONTROL.
While the focus on grey squirrel control is mainly aimed at red conservation, areas where control work is undertaken can see a marked increase in bird populations. Grey squirrels predate on birds nests and also on young fledgelings. In areas where this predation is controlled or removed, birds have a greater chance of successfully rearing their young. In woodlands, the control of greys has enabled many birds such as the spotted flycatcher to increase their populations.
Many urban gardens in areas where greys are present see catastrophic nest raids by grey squirrels and the song and garden bird numbers have fallen dramatically. When visiting Liverpool, I was dismayed at the number of grey squirrels scavenging in the parks and frequenting gardens. With the numbers present, I am surprised any bird could evade these predators. Not surprisingly, the sightings of garden birds were few and far between.


SUCCESSFUL PARENTING :)
Top photo of Mrs Wood Pigeon nesting on my bat shelf in the barn and below, my very friendly blackbird coming to collect food for her young from the feeder in the barn.
Below, 2 swallow parents with their 3 youngsters (only one, second from the left was camera shy and is facing the wrong way).
Photos by Sue Mitchell

RED SQUIRREL CONSERVATION IN THE LOCAL NEWS

Picking up a copy of the Morpeth Herald this week (just checking to see if pictures taken of our stall at the Picnic in the Park had made it on to the front page, they had not), I read the article by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Northumberland MP, in which she strongly supported red conservation. She had spoken in the parliamentary debate on July 3rd on wildlife conservation and made special mention of the work done at Wallington which had resulted in reds returning to the estate. It does of course require constant vigilance to prevent greys entering the woodlands there and potentially infecting the reds which have established themselves in the area. Congratulations to Glen Graham, Wildlife Ranger at Wallington for his work. It was good to read such a public endorsement of the importance of this conservation. 

Kate Weightman

Conservationist ROBIN PAGE reveals his plan to save the red squirrels.

Article from The Mail.
Set up new colonies and wage war on the greys: Conservationist ROBIN PAGE reveals his plan to save the red squirrels 

ROBIN PAGE: Today, the number of red squirrels in England and Wales has fallen to between 12,000 and 16,000, and the population in Britain as a whole is down to 120,000 and shrinking fast.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7292903/Conservationist-ROBIN-PAGE-reveals-plan-save-red-squirrels.html?ito=email_share_article-bottom

RSU PROJECT

Red Squirrel Awareness Week 23 to 30 September, 2019

Kay Haw, the new Director of the UK Squirrel Accord, is considering how best to use this and other opportunities eg Mammal Week to promote our messages. Please contact the UK Squirrel Accord if you have any thoughts and ideas.

BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT 2019

The annual Big Butterfly Count is up and running until 11th August. This annual event is organised by Butterfly Conservation who have available a free app and an identification chart to download to help you recognise and record your sightings.

It's really easy to take part - pick a sunny spot, spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see and submit your sightings.

Find out more by going to:

www.bigbutterflycount.org

Red Admiral Butterfly. Photo taken by Julia Meldrum

PRACTICAL GREY CONTROL.

It has been an interesting year so far at Wallington with red sightings increasing now, following a drop as a result of a SQPV outbreak late last year which occurred whilst I was off work unwell. If anything it demonstrates that as long as greys are on our boundaries, the fragility of our reds, no matter how successful we become in building populations, is very real. It also shows that we only have to take our eyes off the ball for a few weeks, for even a heavily controlled area like Wallington to suffer dangerous levels of grey incursions.

In this vein, I delivered a presentation to our friends at Penrith and District Red Squirrel group a couple of weeks ago, and it was very interesting to hear that they too are seeing a big increase in grey numbers right now.  The reasons for this are reasonably clear, a mild winter and the wide availability of food.  Most of us are encountering female greys right now which are probably on their 2nd litter. It is simple maths to see the issue if each grey female even just has 4 kits twice a year!

It was heartening to see a red squirrel group event attended by over 100 people, and Penrith is in the enviable financial position to be able to pay for several self employed red squirrel rangers. A lot of this is down to the dedication and makeup of their membership, and there is no reason why we too, given enough members, could not aspire to such a position one day.  So please, talk to your friends, tell them the story of our poor little reds and see if you can get them on board – our reds desperately need more friends here in Northumberland. 

So right now, professional grey controllers  (of which there are maybe 10-12 of us all told nationwide, though lots of pest controllers and gamekeepers also do grey control, but pure full time grey controllers are a rare breed indeed)  are all seeing an extremely busy time. Of course, reds have also done well this year, though certainly in Northumberland they never seem to get quite as good an advantage from a mild winter that greys do for some reason.

Right now, greys are responding well to maize as a bait, and I see no reason to be using anything more expensive at this time. A search on the internet and the grey control forums in particular will show you all sorts of potions and recipes people swear by, a common one being the addition of aniseed oil.  I have tried most of these ideas over the years and I cannot honestly say I noticed any difference in effectiveness, with the exception of autumn and winter trapping where the glut of wild food which greys seem to find preferable to maize, can sometimes make the use of hazelnuts etc. advantageous. There is a school of thought which advocates stopping trapping during those times, but really, the answer to loss of interest in traps by greys is just to change your approach. It is a simple mantra, but if you are doing something which doesn’t work – change it! Hazelnuts are expensive, but it only needs one or two per trap for them to work. I like to place one right at the back of the cage trap as we would for any bait, and one near the front where it can be seen from the outside, but draws the grey in enough for it to then spot the one at the back which will trigger the trap.   In this way you can keep the costs down by not using too many. There is also the advantage that hazelnuts are not readily taken by hungry birds with the exception of the occasional jay or similar.  Having said this, there is nothing at all wrong with experimenting with what bait works best where you are – though bear in mind that the likes of peanut butter goes rancid after a while if not eaten, but otherwise, lots of baits such as walnuts have been used with success and even horse chestnuts make a free bait when gathered in autumn.

Glen Graham
Grey Control and Wildlife Ranger
Wallington Hall National Trust Estate

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH
I know I've sung the praises of this organic 'miracle' powder in the past, but it still amazes me every time I use it for whatever reason. Diatomaceous earth feels like a very fine fawn coloured talcum powder. It is in fact a substance made from the fossilised remains of plankton. Under a microscope, the tiny particles are razor sharp and these lacerate fleas and bugs and all sorts of pests. It is 100% natural and organic and has no adverse side effects. I use it for the following:-
* Mixed with sand and wood ash from the stove as a flea and mite control for the chickens. (The mix is put in an old tyre as a chicken dust bath).
* As an organic non chemical wormer for the dogs.
* As an organic non chemical wormer for the chickens.
* As a pest control on veggies in the garden.

There are different grades of DE including human 'food' grade.
It is an amazing substance!

Photo by Mark Legard, Stannington

SOCIAL MEDIA



https://twitter.com/MADRS5 www.facebook.com/MADredsquirrels

Photo taken in Stockholm, Sweden, by Alison Steven


WOODRUFF WOOD NEWS

With lots happening in the wood this summer, we've hand-picked three of our recent favourite things to share with you, starting off with... 

A Baby Roe Deer
Tiny and cute, about the size of a terrier, big wide eyes, beautiful soft brown fur covered with white spots - a baby roe deer! A chance discovery close to where we were working on the last day of May. Not long born, it wobbled unsteadily on its legs taking a few small steps before collapsing in the long grasses, where it was hidden from view. No doubt it was waiting for its mother to return (who would be feeding nearby in the wood). The roe kid was completely unaware of our presence – we tiptoed away in silence so as not to disturb it. How wonderful! 


New Discoveries
It seems that almost every week brings with it something new this summer. Whether it be a butterfly, a dragonfly, a ladybird, a moth or something else, we never know what we might find!
If we have to pick just one to showcase, it will have to be this four-spotted chaser – a type of dragonfly. It whirrs along the woodland rides giving us the merry-go-round and from a distance appears to be rather chunky and brown. But when it does settle, it is absolutely exquisite - both beautiful and intricate in its design. The colours and patterns on its wings are a true work of art.


 

Little Red and Butch

We now have two red squirrels – Little Red and Butch – living in the top part of the wood. Little Red – a girl, was spotted back in April when she began visiting our bird feeder every day. We soon realised what a struggle she was having in reaching the food, so we put up a dedicated squirrel feeder filled with peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds. To our delight, she quickly learnt how to use it and has been visiting ever since. After a few weeks, a second red squirrel – Butch – a boy, started to visit too.

They both have their own particular quirks and characteristics (don't we all)! Little Red loves sunflower seeds – she scoffs them at an incredibly fast rate of one every three seconds. She doesn't particularly like hazelnuts and always feeds facing the feeder. Butch on the other hand, loves hazelnuts and feeds with his back to the feeder. We can hear him gnawing the shell with his sharp teeth.
 



Both appear to be in good health and bit by bit they are getting used to us being around. At first they used to flee upon hearing us; now they respond in one of three ways: 1. They scurry up the tree to a branch and peep down at us. 2. They remain put and clench their fists nervously. 3. They freeze on the spot until we pass them by.

The most joyful piece of news though is that we are fairly certain that Little Red has had two litters of kits this year, giving birth in early spring and again in July. We will be keeping our eyes peeled for signs of little ones.

Please remember, if you sight either a red or grey squirrel in the Morpeth and surrounding area, report it to MADRS at sightings@madredsquirrels.com or telephone/text the MADRS mobile 07570 897979.

If you would like to keep up-to-date with squirrel news from Woodruff Wood (along with lots of other woodland news) please sign up to our free newsletter at www.woodruffwood.co.uk 

For any further information, please feel free to contact us on:

T: 07525 841361

E: info@woodruffwood.co.uk

W: www.woodruffwood.co.uk

Julia Meldrum and Chris Tomlinson

GO GREEN ELECTRICITY.

Renewable energy company Bulb are 100% carbon neutral gas suppliers and 100% renewable electricity suppliers from wind, solar and hydro sources. Go green and help our planet. For everyone who changes to Bulb using the referral link below, there'll be a £50 credit to their account and a donation will be made to MADRS.
https://bulb.co.uk/refer/suem6320

HEDGEHOGS

....And finally, my little bit about hedgehogs. As I said in the last edition, one of the most important things to remember is to always have ground water out for small mammals and hedgehogs. During especially dry periods, animals that feed on slugs, worms and snails and the like often struggle. Much of their water is taken in their food source but when the ground is very hard, animals like hedgehogs struggle to be able to dig to find worms and grubs. This can lead to dehydration and this is especially so in young Hoglets. Putting a shallow bowl of water or a couple of bowls out in your garden can literally be a life saver. If you have hedgehogs about, a bit of supplementary feeding will help them too. Lactating mothers and their young will certainly benefit from that little extra boost.
Northumbria Hedgehog rescue at Longframlington are always looking for volunteers to help. If you can spare a morning each week, each fortnight or even monthly, then please get in touch with them.

Sue Mitchell

For information on how you can help Hedgehogs:-

www.hedgehogs-northumbria.org.uk www.facebook.com/hedgehogsnorthumbria



Kindly forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested or circulate it round your group. If you would like to be added directly to our mailing list to receive our newsletter in March, July and November, please drop us a line at enquiries@madredsquirrels.com (our newsletter comes out 3 times a year).

Thank you for your continuing support



Unique red squirrel found in Ceredigion

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales says evidence from red squirrel hairs has provided positive news about the condition of these iconic creatures in mid Wales.

After collecting and analysing samples from one of the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project’s (MWRSP) squirrel feeding stations, it has found a unique DNA sequence that hasn’t been found anywhere else in the world.

Click here to read on

Red squirrels: On Safari in Londonderry

They were once widespread throughout Ireland but now going on safari may be the best chance to see one of the island's most endangered mammals.

Muff Glen, woodland on the outskirts of Londonderry, is home to about 10 red squirrels.

It had been feared that the red squirrel population there had been wiped out.

But now nature lovers are getting a chance to go on a woodland safari to see them.

The squirrel safari project - khaki suit and pith helmet not required - is the brainchild of the North West Red Squirrel Group.


It has its launch on Saturday.

Pam Hardeman, of the conservation group, told BBC Radio Foyle's Mark Patterson Show that it will give people a "real red squirrel experience".

"We have put extra feeders up to try and get them all to come," she said.

"But you know what animals are like, they never perform on the day."

The 4km trail will take in three sites in the woodland where the reds are known to feed.

The return of the reds to Muff Glen was first reported last year after a cull of grey squirrels in the area.

Greys are culled because they carry squirrel pox, a disease that is fatal for native reds.

They also outcompete the reds for food.

Further sightings in Derry have also sparked hope for the survival of the native squirrel in the north-west.

North East Towns at the Forefront of Efforts to Save Scotland’s Red Squirrels

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is urging the public to be on the lookout as recent grey squirrel sightings have been reported in crucial areas for red squirrel conservation.

The project has received reports of recent grey squirrel activity around both Ellon and St Cyrus, prompting a call for locals to record sightings of both red and grey squirrels online.

The grey squirrel is an invasive species that was introduced to Britain from North America. They out-compete red squirrels for food and living space and some also carry squirrelpox, a virus that doesn’t harm grey squirrels but is deadly to reds.

Grey squirrels were first introduced to Aberdeen in the 1970s, rapidly spreading throughout the city and into surrounding Aberdeenshire, causing the region’s red squirrel populations to decline rapidly. 

Years of grey squirrel control work carried out by Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has already removed grey squirrels from much of Aberdeenshire, allowing red squirrels to return to places such as Ellon and even some parts of Aberdeen. A 2017 survey conducted by the project indicated that red squirrel populations in the North East have increased, while remaining stable elsewhere in the country.

The reason for the recent increase in grey squirrel sightings in Aberdeenshire is unclear but may be due to young grey squirrels from this year’s breeding season spreading out to look for new habitat.

Dr Gwen Maggs, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Conservation Officer for North East Scotland said:

“This is the first time grey squirrels have been reported in the Ellon area for a number of years, and there have also been two sightings of grey squirrels in the St Cyrus area in recent days.

St Cyrus, and the Mearns area as a whole, sits in a crucial gap between the grey squirrel population south of the Highland Line and the isolated pocket of grey squirrels in Aberdeen. Squirrelpox is not currently a threat in Aberdeenshire, however this could change if the gap between the two grey squirrel populations closes and they become able to breed.

“However, this is not the first time greys have been seen in these areas, and there is no cause to panic. Equally, complacency is not an option and we would like the public’s help to build a better picture of the local situation so that we can focus our work and ensure the grey squirrels are removed to protect the well-established red squirrel population in the region.”

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership project led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and made possible thanks to National Lottery players. With the help of a network of dedicated volunteers, the project is working to reduce grey squirrel numbers in the region, with the aim of removing them completely.

 

Members of the public are being asked to help by reporting any squirrel sightings (red and grey) on the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels website, scottishsquirrels.org.uk.

The project is also developing a Mearns Red Squirrel Community Group. Anyone interested in getting involved with red squirrel conservation work across the Mearns area can contact Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels at squirrels@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk.