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Red Squirrels
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 24-09-2013 19:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

gncxx wrote:
In the film Never Cry Wolf, the researcher Farley Mowat proves that wolves live in the region close to the Arctic Circle by consuming mice. He proves it by living on mice himself for a few weeks. It was based on a true story, but apparently the real life research was discredited after the film was released. Anyway, you can survive on mice if that's what you want to do. Farley Mowat is still alive aged 92, so maybe they're actually good for you?

I've found Mowat's books fascinating; but have heard the opinion from more than one source, that he has a vivid imagination which he sometimes lets run away with him. Not to suggest that nothing from that direction, is ever true; but I tend to be a bit sceptical about anything told of by F.M. (As you mention, "real life research discredited after film released" -- what I'd rather expect re something involving this guy -- though, not to assert that a mouse diet can't sustain human life !)
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 09-10-2013 20:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Latest report from forum's designated red-squirrel-monomaniac -- just back from a trip to the Isle of Wight, involving visit late in the day (good time for squirrel activity) to the nature reserve where they are habituated. I got a quarter-hour of red-squirrel action -- from perceived difference in shade of coats, I reckon two different squirrels, though I only saw one at a time. They're unafraid of humans -- will pass by within inches of you. And they're so incredibly agile !

The Wight Nature Fund, which runs the reserve, seems to be modestly "going public" in comparison to my last visit -- notices seen posted en route thereto, directing to the reserve's "Bird and Squirrel Hide".
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 10-10-2013 00:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I got a quarter-hour of red-squirrel action -- from perceived difference in shade of coats, I reckon two different squirrels, though I only saw one at a time.


I've had this problem with stoats, it's murder to tell.

Congratulations on seeing a red, better luck than I had on my recent squirrel hunt.
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 25-11-2013 11:37    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good news for the Reds! And no, I'm not talking about LFC, although this story does come from Liverpool! Wink

Merseyside red squirrels show signs of pox resistance
By Victoria Gill, Science reporter, BBC News
[Video: Tim Dale from the University of Liverpool explains the significance of the findings]

Red squirrels at a National Trust reserve in Merseyside have shown signs of resistance to the pox virus that has blighted the species, say researchers.
Scientists from the University of Liverpool have studied the squirrels at the Formby site for four years.
They found that 10% of its squirrels had pox antibodies in their blood.
These antibodies are chemical tags that allow the body to recognise and respond to an infection quickly.

This strongly suggests that the squirrels have encountered the pox virus previously and recovered from it.
"Before we started this project, it was debatable whether any squirrels had survived exposure to the virus," said Tim Dale, the project's leading researcher.
"But the work that we've done has shown that a small percentage have been exposed to the virus and they're still running around healthy in the forest."

The UK population of red squirrels has been in decline since grey squirrels were introduced from North America by the Victorians.
As well as displacing red squirrels from their habitat, grey squirrels also carry the squirrel pox virus, which they have spread to the reds.

While most of the remaining UK red squirrels inhabit the coniferous forests of Scotland, Formby is one of a handful of protected reserves in England where grey squirrel numbers are controlled to protect the reds.
Despite this protection, a pox outbreak in 2008 devastated the red squirrel population, reducing it by 80%.
"Our research has shown that [the pox virus] was introduced by the greys. It just spread through the population and caused a lot of red squirrel deaths," said Mr Dale.

"So we wanted to find out if the remaining red squirrels had survived pox or had just been lucky enough not to be exposed."
The team started a project to systematically catch and examine individual squirrels.
As well as monitoring the population's gradual recovery, the study gathered blood samples that revealed clues that the animals had survived the disease.

This is evidence that the squirrels could be starting to develop resistance to the pox virus, which they could potentially pass on to future generations.
Signs of immunity to the lethal pox virus have been seen before - but only in dead specimens.

"It's obviously great news, but there's still a lot of work to be done," said Mr Dale. "It's a very small percentage [that have the antibodies] and whether that's enough to pass it on to the next generation we just don't know.

The National Trust manager at Formby, Andrew Brockbank, said the work at such protected sites was very important for the future of the species.
"This research will bring value not only to Formby, but to other sites facing similar challenges," he told BBC News, "and the decline of the red squirrel has been a major conservation challenge."

The scientists are now applying for funding to continue their work, and to investigate the route of transmission of the virus to work out how to combat it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25034405

(Sidebar and another video on page.)
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 26-11-2013 14:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to hear about signs of potential resistance to the loathsome pox -- may the best possible outcomes concerning same, be realised.

As regards the British mainland, I can't overall feel very optimistic about the long-term survival of the native red squirrel species, under pressure from the introduced grey; but even if the red squirrel is ultimately doomed other than in tiny, "micromanaged" places of refuge -- I hope its final ousting may take a very long time yet: with anything and everything in play, that might defer the "endgame".
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 19:47    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my resident-red-squirrel-buff role: have just returned from a week on the Isle of Wight. This week's stay involved a fair amount of country walking, and one deliberate trip to the Wight Nature Fund reserve, previously mentioned in this thread, where red squirrels are habituated and fearlessly come close to visitors. If one goes to this reserve at the optimum times -- first or last couple of hours of daylight -- one is not-far-off-guaranteed a squirrel encounter. Nothing is a 100% dead cert, however. I went to the reserve toward the end of daylight; spent an hour there, and: highly abundant bird life, but of squirrels neither hide nor hair. To the disappointment of myself, and a couple of local folk who came along armed with hazelnuts -- but to no avail.

Earlier that same day, though, walking along a cycling / horse-riding / walking trail, a couple of miles south of Newport IOW, I had a sighting of two squirrels, leaping and scampering around in, and between, several leafless trees, right beside the trail. Was able to watch them for a couple of minutes. With the way we generally tend to feel about things -- on the IOW, a genuine, chance, completely "in the wild", squirrel encounter, is apt to be more exciting than a nearly-guaranteed one at the habituating reserve.

Odd though it may seem to have Sciurus vulgaris, which is demonstrably still alive and observable daily if one lives in the right place, in this board's "Cryptozoology" section; as regards the pure "showmanship" aspect of the business, I feel convinced that the Isle of Wight's red squirrels have been to cryptid school.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 20:48    Post subject: Reply with quote

Further red-squirrel musings, re recent trip to “the land of”... My relatives on the Isle of Wight have a book which I was perusing: "The Country Diary of a Cheshire Man" by one A.W. Boyd, living in mid-Cheshire – the author’s entries covering period early 1930s – 1945. (A poignant one from the first day of World War II: “...if only Hitler had been an ornithologist, he would have put off the war until the autumn bird migration was over... That he should force us to waste the last week of August and the first fortnight of September in a uniform that we hoped we had discarded for good is really the final outrage”.)

Another interesting entry among many, in this book, is one dated 1933 -- telling of the reported killing of a grey squirrel on the author’s “patch”: where hitherto, red squirrels had reigned supreme. It is generally understood that the first introductions of grey squirrels to Britain were in the Home Counties of England: whence, initially very gradually, the greys spread out in all directions, progressively ousting the native red species. John Betjeman, when in reminiscing-of-his-childhood mode, tells of red squirrels being the norm in the London suburbs in the 1910s. The red squirrel becoming a true rarity, is after all relatively recent. My personal bad luck, I feel, to have spent my six and a half decades of life always basically in the less-northerly parts of England, so seeing reds only in the course of holidays in “outlying regions”.
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hunckOffline
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PostPosted: 18-03-2014 15:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in my 50s and am sure I remember as a child seeing red squirrels in our garden in North London. This would be in the 60s and they were rare to see but they were there.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 18-03-2014 16:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting -- thanks ! and, I can believe you. The whole thing went -- and continues to go -- raggedly and gradually, with grey squirrels not visiting violence on the red kind: just, in the big picture, out-competing them Darwin-wise.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 13-04-2014 13:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have just returned from a week’s holiday in Jersey, with relatives – chief objective, walking around the island’s coasts, with wildlife encounters largely incidental and left to chance. As mentioned by a PP in the early days (2001) of this thread, Jersey has in the wild, red squirrels and no grey ones – the reds are estimated to number 800+. We saw one red squirrel in the course of the week: observed for a couple of minutes, during a visit to the Jersey Zoo (“Durrell” in island parlance). The zoo personnel have in place in the establishment’s 32 acres, feeding stations to attract the wild squirrels.

Whilst it was very pleasant to see this specimen; a subsequent discovery was disappointing to me personally. I found that squirrels are not native to any of the Channel Islands, and have existed in the wild, only on Jersey (though see below) – and were introduced to Jersey and released there by local naturalists, in the late 19th century (1885 the most often-cited date): some individuals brought in from continental Europe, some from southern England. So in cold fact, the red squirrel no more truly belongs in Jersey, than the American grey squirrel does in Great Britain; and has been in Jersey, for no longer than has the grey in GB. Nice to have the reds in Jersey, and all that, and it’s good that they seem to be doing reasonably well there – but having found out the above makes their presence in Jersey, for me, less exciting.

“Channel Island squirrels on Jersey only” – we have a bit of a family connection with the Channel Islands. A late aunt-by-marriage was born and brought up in Guernsey; a brother of mine recalls – to the best of his recollection -- being told by her, a good many years ago, about her having seen red squirrels in a particular pine wood on Guernsey. If correct, this contradicts the “Jersey only” orthodoxy -- but my brother’s memory of the conversation might be awry; or our aunt, who would have been getting on in years back then, might have been confused in her recollections, and might in fact have been recalling things observed on a visit by her to Jersey: all one of those tantalising things which are basically past resolution.

There is – in the realms of pure humour – a rather fine spoof site about the totally fictitious “Guernsey squirrel”, and various other Guernsey nonsense “non-lore”:

guernseysquirrel.blogspot.com/
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 20-04-2014 14:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

This evening on TV:

Countryfile
Isles of Scilly
Today on BBC1 South West from 7:00pm to 8:00pm

...
Ellie Harrison visits the beautiful privately owned island of Tresco, where they have recently imported some red squirrels.
...

Programme also features rats, ducks, and cows!
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 02-05-2014 16:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Item recently informed of, relevant to the Irish red-squirrel scene:

http://www.live.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-27224208

Applying to Google, informed me that the Irish Republic also has pine martens: reckoned definitely rare -- estimated 2,700 of them in the country, mostly in the middle of it, and the far west -- unless, as in the North, they've been doing better than the authorities on the subject, had thought !
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 20-05-2014 14:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

amyasleigh wrote:
gncxx wrote:
In the film Never Cry Wolf, the researcher Farley Mowat proves that wolves live in the region close to the Arctic Circle by consuming mice. He proves it by living on mice himself for a few weeks. It was based on a true story, but apparently the real life research was discredited after the film was released. Anyway, you can survive on mice if that's what you want to do. Farley Mowat is still alive aged 92, so maybe they're actually good for you?

I've found Mowat's books fascinating; but have heard the opinion from more than one source, that he has a vivid imagination which he sometimes lets run away with him. Not to suggest that nothing from that direction, is ever true; but I tend to be a bit sceptical about anything told of by F.M. (As you mention, "real life research discredited after film released" -- what I'd rather expect re something involving this guy -- though, not to assert that a mouse diet can't sustain human life !)

The above quotes, from this thread last year: off at a slight tangent, from Sciurus vulgaris -- have just become aware that Farley Mowat died a couple of weeks ago, on May 6th this year. He was born in 1921 -- so, a case of "a good innings". Although -- as mentioned above -- it's possible that he could at times have been "economical with the truth": my feeling is that he was, overall, good value as an author, and his heart in the right place -- RIP.
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 07-06-2014 08:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

Red Squirrels Born In Cornwall
7:02am 7th June 2014

Cornwall welcomes the birth of two red squirrels.
It is as the breed's population is dropping and is even extinct in some areas of the country.
Staff at Paradise Park are hopefull this will help boost number in the Duchy.
It's planning to eventually release them into the wild.

Curator David Woolcock said: "The Red Squirrel has suffered a dramatic population decline in the last century and they are extinct in much of Southern England, Northern Ireland and Wales. These two babies will help establish more breeding groups hopefully within collections in Cornwall, and in the long term we hope they will be released in Cornwall."

"We first got involved in breeding Red Squirrels back in 1996 when we had a pair on loan from the Welsh Mountain Zoo. They have bred successfully ever since".

http://www.piratefm.co.uk/news/latest-news/1304810/red-squirrels-born-in-cornwall/
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PostPosted: 18-06-2014 12:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Northumberland has long been a red squirrel stronghold and my mother was very disappointed to see a grey while I was visiting a few weeks ago.

We reported the sighting - there's an online facility for doing so - and got a pretty quick reply to the effect that someone was going to be sent out asap to trap and cull the unfortunate grey.
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