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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