Red squirrel at Brockhole!

Brockhole croppedWe’re delighted to report that a red squirrel has been spotted at the Lake District National Park’s Visitor Centre at Brockhole – seen near the bird hide by one of the LDNPA’s volunteers. Not only that, but Wendy Carroll has managed to photograph it!

It’s been a long-held ambition of Westmorland Red Squirrels to see red squirrels back at Brockhole, and thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the help and cooperation of LDPNA staff at Brockhole we now have the first recorded red sighting for many, many years. Well done, everyone!

If you see a red squirrel at Brockhole or anywhere else, please report it using our online form>>


Results of the RSNE squirrel monitoring programme, Spring 2016

RSNE Monitoring Report Spring 2016This report details the results of red and grey squirrel range monitoring organised by Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) in spring 2016. The aim of this standardised monitoring is to collect a dataset over time that will help demonstrate the impact of red squirrel conservation activity on the distribution of red and grey squirrels. The results of standardised surveying in 293 woodland sites are detailed here, together with additional data collected from a variety of sources to provide a current snapshot of red and grey distribution across northern England. You can download the full 26 page report here>>

Fighting for the reds

Mark Whitley’s country diary – July 2016 – in the latest issue of The Countryman describes the progress that our group is making to protect red squirrels in south east Cumbria. You can read the text of the article here>>

Red squirrels seen in south-east Cumbria in 2015

Red squirrels seen in south-east Cumbria in 2015

Westmorland Red Squirrel volunteers install and monitor traps to eradicate grey squirrels

Westmorland Red Squirrel volunteers install and monitor traps to eradicate grey squirrels

Apprentices needed for the Rusland Horizons Scheme

Would you like to play a vital role in an ambitious scheme to revive traditional skills and restore the unique wooded landscape of a wonderful part of South Lakeland? Following a successful, community-led bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Lake District National Park Authority, on behalf of the Rusland Valley & Fells Landscape Partnership, is now looking to recruit six apprentices to help deliver the Rusland Horizons Scheme. If that’s you, or you know someone that might fit the bill, read on>>


Serious bark-stripping damage in Windermere

Bark stripping Windermere 2A Windermere landowner has just come home from a fortnight away to find about 20 of his trees badly damaged by bark stripping caused by grey squirrels –  shown in the photos to the left.  All the affected trees were about 30 years old, which is a devastating setback for someone who is working to manage his woodland, and especially so because when he went away he hadn’t been seeing any grey squirrels on his property.


Bark stripping Windermere 1This tree damage is typical of grey squirrels everywhere and has implications for all who are managing woodlands, both for the trees they’ve planted and the wildlife the trees support – it’s not just red squirrels that are affected by grey squirrel presence.

Greys will travel in search of food or new territory, so to remove them from one woodland is simply not enough. What’s needed is a concerted effort by all landowners to remove the greys. There are some times of year when grey squirrels are less evident, so it also needs constant vigilance and a proactive approach to ensure that grey squirrels have not returned to a previously cleared area.

Our first newsletter carried an article on grey squirrel damage to trees at Haverthwaite Heights – see>> 

The UK Squirrel Accord

UKRSG logoAdrian Vass, Manager of the UK Squirrel Accord (UKSA)>> delivered an excellent presentation at this year’s Annual General Meeting on 26 May 2016. Its role is to secure existing red squirrel populations, particularly in northern Britain, and to reverse the damage caused by grey squirrels to broadleaved woodlands and secure multiple benefits across the whole of the UK.

Adrian explained UKSA’s role in encouraging scientific research into vaccines for grey squirrel control and to combat squirrel pox virus in reds. Initiatives to re-introduce red squirrels were also under consideration, provided they meet International Union of Nature Conservation (IUCN) Guidelines, and also to try landscape-scale red squirrel exclosures, initially in North Norfolk, Purbeck and The Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.

Adrian spoke about the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) initiative, which involves its members trapping and shooting greys. This is being piloted successfully in the Midlands and could be appropriate in our area. He also spoke about evolving the UKSA membership structure, which could see opportunities for volunteer groups such as ours to be represented on a UKSA Group Forum, which could inform and influence the thinking of the founding signatories.