At Westmorland Red Squirrels’ AGM on 25 May 2017 John Martin entertained us with an informative illustrated talk on Pine Martens and their relationship with red and grey squirrels. John described his research on the ecology, lifestyle and breeding habits of pine martens over the past 14 years in Galloway Forest, relating it to other research in Ireland and central Wales.
John’s images and analysis of scats, and what they tell us about pine martens’ diet, were particularly informative, not least in exposing the extent to which martens predate grey or red squirrels. The evidence in Galloway at least, but also apparently emerging in studies in Ireland and mid-Wales, suggests that field voles, small birds, and fruit and nuts make up the majority of their diet, though environment and seasonality are influential. Evidence of red or grey squirrel in scats, in John’s experience, was extremely rare. Here’s a link to John’s presentation>>
A very interesting article making the case for grey control, written by Dr Craig Shuttleworth and published in The Conversation. Read the full article here>>
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If you missed the last episode of BBC Countryfile and you can get iPlayer, you might enjoy the piece on red squirrels showing the trapping and tagging of reds (with no ill effects) in order to ascertain if nest boxes could be erected to mitigate the effects of felling. The whole programme is well worth watching – squirrels come on at 55 minutes into the episode. See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08lnhfb/countryfile-forests
Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Windermere Local Support Group have organised a talk at the Marchesi Centre in Windermere on Thursday, 09/03/2017 – 7:00pm – 8:30pm. David Hill, founder member of Red Alert North West, will speak about red squirrel conservation in the past and Bob Cartwright, secretary of Westmorland Red Squirrel Society, will speak about present and future conservation. More details here>>
Work is being stepped up to develop an oral contraceptive specifically for controlling grey squirrels, which are such a threat to our red squirrels. A report in The Independent summarises the next phase of work by the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency to develop the vaccine and design grey-only traps. More details here: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/prince-charles-squirrels-nutella-sterilise-plans-backs-grey-red-a7597481.html . The same story is covered in The Times: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/prince-of-wales-backs-mass-sterilisation-of-grey-squirrels-ncgstkh28?shareToken=c3be20f11407765b02ac3e18fed007f3
Westmorland Red Squirrels welcomes the recent call for a national army of volunteers to save our red squirrels. More details here: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/2017/02/24/vital-volunteers-needed-save-our-last-red-squirrel
The Hare and Hounds at Levens is holding a ‘Back to Front’ fundraising evening on Friday 3rd March, funds raised will be donated to the North West Air Ambulance and Westmorland Red Squirrels. More details>>
We’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant of £1000 by Cumbria Community Foundation to pay towards volunteer travel expenses over the next 12 months. This is most welcome and will help us to provide vital conservation work to protect our red squirrels in South Lakeland.
Our Secretary, Bob Cartwright, is interviewed by the Westmorland Gazette about the Rusland’s Reds project. Read the article here>>
The 2016 Autumn issue of Red Squirrel News, just published by the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Partnership, brings an update on the Pine Marten re-introduction project in Wales.
Just what impact are those pine martens having on our squirrels? Find out how Chris Harris is playing his part in the Pine Marten Restoration Project and get the latest news from our trail cams. A Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) remote camera has captured some amazing pine marten footage of a kit trying to take its first steps out of the box and then falling. Mum comes to the rescue, but is mid-lunch when it happens and she has a grey squirrel in her mouth! Mum drops the squirrel and rescues her wayward kit, carrying it back up the tree before returning for her squirrel. This fabulous clip>> demonstrates that grey squirrel control might be one positive outcome of the VWT’s Pine Marten Restoration Project.
You can read full story in the Autumn issue of Red Squirrel News here>>