Welcome to our summer 2019 newsletter. As ever it has been a real roller coaster with a series of highs and lows. A good breeding season for red squirrels but unfortunately for greys too. Over the spring and early summer, this has resulted in an unprecedented number of squirrel pox outbreaks. This is the result of the deadly virus carried by greys being passed onto reds and this has devastated the red population in some localised areas and sadly, it seems, right down the River Lowther valley. Read more>>
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! Read more>>
In this edition read about plans for our new Healthy Reds Project which, if funding is forthcoming, will kick off in the summer. You can contribute to the new project by donating to a very novel fundraising campaign created by wildlife enthusiast Michael the Flying Squirrel.
The challenges faced by our dedicated team of survey volunteers are elaborated upon in our regular ‘Tracking the Red Trail” article. Discover the new volunteer opportunities that the Vincent Wildlife Trust has in store for you.
And last but not least take a look at the amazing red squirrel photos that volunteers Paul Harry and Rhian Mai Hubbart managed to capture in Formby at the annual Red Squirrels United conference. Read more>>
Photos: Rhian top and right, Paul left
There is no doubt in my mind that without the continued efforts of the local community Red Squirrel Conservation groups, we would have no Red squirrels left in Northumberland now. The essential work all the volunteer groups undertake in controlling the numbers and spread of grey squirrels, is the only chance our native Reds have to survive. My usual message with this is as always, to stress that grey control is not a side of red conservation that is taken lightly, but is an absolute necessity.
In 2018, MADRS removed 1574 greys from our area. It’s not rocket science to think of how many more there’d be if a percentage of these had bred, 2-3 times a year… 3-4 greys per brood (and they would start breeding too!).
A fitting tribute to these efforts are the increased sightings in terms of numbers of red squirrels in some areas, and sightings of reds being reported in areas where they have not been seen for a while, in some cases several years. Read more>>
WORDS FROM THE CHAIRMAN, ROBERT BENSON
As a small boy, we had red squirrels in our garden near Petersfield in Hampshire in the early 1950s. Sadly they soon disappeared, driven out by the non-indigenous and more powerful greys or so we were told. I moved 300 miles north to Cumbria in 1976 and instantly became reacquainted with red squirrels. My passion was reignited, and I was determined to prevent the same thing from happening here in
Based on the Lowther Estates, I called together a group of landowners and in due course this became P&DRSG. We now know a lot more about the demise of the red and the virus carried by the invasive greys that has decimated red squirrel populations. I think I can honestly say that without our grey control work, there would not be any red squirrels in this part of Cumbria. We have reversed the flow but sustaining this effort is very difficult. Read more>>
Shooting Grey Squirrels for Red Squirrel Conservation
Lantra course page: https://www.lantra.co.uk/course/shooting-grey-squirrels-red-squirrel-conservation
The flyer for the 2019 Lantra approved training courses can be downloaded here>>
Thanks to grant funding from the Hadfield Trust and the Rawdon-Smith Trust, we have been able to buy two Pulsar thermal imaging cameras for spotting and monitoring squirrels. These hand-held monocular cameras highlight a squirrel’s body heat in contrast to its cooler surroundings, making it much easier for our volunteers to spot squirrels in woodland. Read more>>
The mid Wales forests are a hive of activity as red squirrels prepare for winter, burying surplus nuts and seeds for harsher times in caches. Red squirrels have quite a talent for food preparation, and have been known to dry out fungi in tree crevices; dried fungi produces a more nutritious meal.
Red squirrels don’t hibernate over the winter months, although activity can be much reduced in very cold weather. Winter preparations include making sure that their dreys, a series of nests made from intricately woven twigs with an internal moss-lined chamber, are sturdy and warm enough to see them through the winter. Read more>> including a Pine Marten update.
The year so far has been a real mixture of squirrel activity in terms of both red and grey. The grey control team once again have done a fantastic job and it is their relentless control work that has saved reds in some areas, and enabled reds to return in others. We have seen sudden and quite substantial grey influxes in places and in others, we have seen reds turn up for the first time in many years. As always, I’d like to stress that grey control is not a side of red conservation that is taken lightly, but is absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of the reds. It is only through controlling the grey populations that the reds can survive.
We have included some photos in this edition of the newsletter sent to us by people who have seen their first reds in several years. Some of these photos plus many more are on our Facebook page. Read more>>
Penrith & District Red Squirrel Group is now a victim of its own success. We are delighted to have resident red squirrels across the whole of our managed area of 650 square miles covered by our contracted Rangers and their supporters. There is little doubt that without the Rangers’ work, reds would have all but disappeared. However this success comes at a huge annual cost and we really are struggling to raise the £120,000 a year needed to keep this up.
We know that any let up will allow greys to spread back very quickly and undo brilliant progress made. Read more>>