Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels

Local update: getting into the squirrel spirit

 

10th November 2017, by Mary-Anne Collis

Conservation Officer Mary-Anne Collis gives us an update on what’s been happening in Argyll, Trossachs and Stirlingshire.

 

We’ve been very busy in the Argyll, Trossachs and Stirlingshire region this year. I’ve been on a personal mission to say hello to as many people as possible, spreading the word about submitting your squirrel sightings, both red and grey. Your sightings really help us to know what’s happening in the region and to target our efforts effectively. Keep them coming!

 

We really have gotten into the squirrel spirit, with squirrel-shaped gingerbread to celebrate Red Squirrel Week back at the end of September, and a recent visit from ‘Sandy the squirrel’ at Balmaha National Park Visitor Centre. We also attended the RSPB Bioblitz in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and red squirrel days at Argaty Red Kites, and all across the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Mary-Anne with Sandy
©Katherine Rennie

Throughout the year we’ve been helped by lots of volunteers at our local events, and a big thank you goes out to them and those that have continued to help out with other aspects of the project.

With the Cowal Red Squirrel group we’ve helped promote the new squirrel hide at Benmore Botanic Garden that opened in spring, and as a result there have been lots of red squirrel sightings in the gardens so far this year.

One of our aims is to try and make the National Park a red squirrel-only zone, although greys keep sneaking in by Callander, Tarbet and Balloch. We are seeing that as we help move greys out of areas reds are moving back in. This has been particularly apparent in the National Park since the project began here in 2010, so we’re getting closer to making this possible.

We’ve also started to focus on the areas around Stirling. This is a region where reds and greys can often be seen in the same patches of woodland. Also, worryingly, greys have been seen to be travelling north west towards the National Park. As a result we are putting extra effort into monitoring the health of the local grey squirrels, keeping an eye out for the squirrelpox virus and taking action to stop it reaching red populations. To achieve this we need people to submit their sightings around Stirling, so we know how close the populations are to each other in this region.

Squirrel biscuits
©Leigh Claxton

Moving forward we are also keen to hear from anyone who would be happy to help us control grey squirrels in their local area, paving the way for reds in the future. Our volunteers are provided with the training, resources and support they need. A few key areas are the Helensburgh/Rosneath peninsula, the surrounds of Stirling, particularly north towards the National Park and Callander but also around Falkirk where unfortunately this year we found a grey squirrel that had the squirrelpox virus.

If you are interested in getting involved in any aspect of Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels work in Argyll, the Trossachs and Stirling, drop us an email at squirrels@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk.

 

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This year's sightings

 
 
 

Project partners 

Scottish Wildlife Trust Forestry Commission Scottish Land and Estates
 
Scottish Natural Heritage Red Squirrel Survival Trust RSPBHeritage Lottery Fund