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Red Squirrels
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 04-08-2013 18:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my role as this outfit's self-confessed red-squirrel-obsessive: report herewith, from my latest foray on the track of the elusive quasi-cryptid.

In the course of a recent brief stay in the south of England, my brother and I took a quick trip to Poole and got the ferry over to Brownsea Island -- famed lesser counterpart of the Isle of Wight, as joint last refuges for red squirrels in southern Britain. Brownsea measures about a mile-and-a-quarter by half-a-mile, the majority of the island being wooded: is estimated to host a population of about 200 red squirrels (no greys -- they can't get across the water).

This was my third visit to the island. Re the previous two: on the first, no squirrels seen; on the second, a couple of good sightings. Various conclusions could be drawn from those two experiences ! This recent third visit, leads to the general feeling that two hundred members of a shy species can get quite effectively lost on a largely-wooded island of the size indicated above -- encountering them, not the "shooting-fish-in-a-barrel" exercise that one might imagine. I feel that basically, we were very lucky -- especially as our visit had to be brief: about two hours, in the "lunchtime" window when wildlife is generally rather quiescent. We took a walk round the island, on the plentiful trails which traverse it. At one point in thick woodland, my brother -- all honour to him for his woodcraft -- noticed a small pine-cone segment falling on his head. He put two and two together, looked up, and there was, up in the top of a pine tree, a red squirrel -- not visible with the greatest of clarity, but definitely there, and watchable for about a minute.

Brownsea Island seems, incidentally, a wonderful haven of tranquility, amazing for wildlife far above-and-beyond red squirrels -- the island comprises various habitats.

Concerning British red squirrels and islands: the thought occurred to me recently, what's the picture squirrel-wise with the Isle of Man? -- difficult for sure, for grey squirrels to get to. Googling the matter, revealed that Man has never had any native squirrels of any kind.

The search engine further revealed that in recent years, conservationists have suggested introducing red squirrels to the Isle of Man, where they might flourish and multiply, beyond the reach of their out-competing grey cousins. One understands that the issue was debated in the Manx parliament; which vetoed the move, on both economic and environmental grounds: Manx naturalists had expressed the view that bringing in squirrels of whatever colour, could have a detrimental effect on -- broadest terms -- "what establishedly lives on the island". With the way it seems to be with introduction of exotic species, that "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong" -- I have to feel that the people who are cautious about this thing, and say "don't do it", are probably right.
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 05-09-2013 06:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slaughter of squirrels planned for Lizard Peninsula
3:00pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News

Thousands of grey squirrels are set to be killed on the Lizard Peninsula – in order to be replaced by red ones.
The overwhelming majority of landowners have now signed up to the controversial plans, according to Cornwall Red Squirrel Trust that was set up to help re-introduce red squirrels to West Cornwall.

The area has been chosen as the centre of a national project to reintroduce the red squirrel, which was founded in 2009.
It is using the naturally isolated geography of West Cornwall to maximise the chances of the mammal becoming successfully re-established in the county – and has targeted West Penwith and the Lizard Peninsula as the two areas it hopes to clear completely of grey squirrels.
The aim is to remove nearly 4,000 grey squirrels from around 100,000 acres, through poisoning, trapping and shooting.

At the heart of the project on the Lizard is the 1,000-year-old Trelowarren estate, whose owner, Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, is backing the project.
His website states: “Trelowarren has some excellent red squirrel habitat and so does the rest of the Lizard. Sadly for both the greys and the reds, the grey squirrels carry a disease, attractively called squirrel pox, which kills red squirrels. Greys also live in much denser numbers and compete for the same food as the reds, so there is no way they can share the same habitat.”

The project now has a full time “squirrel ranger,” David Fineren, who according to the Cornwall Red Squirrel Trust spends his time in the field, educating land owners from those with a small garden to estates of several hundred acres and enrolling them in the scheme.

Since his appointment earlier this year more than 85 per cent of the Lizard and 50 per cent of West Penwith, in terms of land area, has been signed up to for owners to either remove their own grey squirrels or be helped by the project to do so.

However, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust has concerns about the project.
A spokesperson said: Our conservation work is increasingly focused on landscape-scale habitat projects rather than single species projects.”

Other projects nationally looked to isolate red and grey squirrels, by preventing them from crossing the project area into the wider countryside, but the spokesperson said: “The trust is concerned that if this approach is taken it may hinder wider conservation work to connect habitats in Cornwall.”
He added there were further concerns that the habitat for red squirrels – generally coniferous or mixed woodland – did not reflect the typical make up of the Lizard Peninsula and West Penwith, which featured mainly open heathland and farmland.

Grey squirrels were introduced into Britain from the USA as garden pets in the late 19th century. They are now common, while the native red squirrel has declined.

http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/10653085.Slaughter_of_squirrels_planned_for_Lizard_Peninsula__VOTE/?ref=mr
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 05-09-2013 15:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel rather torn, about this plan re grey and red squirrels in the Lizard Peninsula and West Penwith (am I right, the latter is the extreme "toe" of Cornwall, west of Penzance and St. Ives?). Realise that I'm not being very rational here; but while I can applaud the current campaign to eliminate grey squirrels in Anglesey, so as to let the 500-odd surviving red squirrels on the island multiply and thrive -- somehow, trying to eliminate greys and re-introduce reds, in an area where greys have totally taken over in the natural course of things, seems "not quite cricket". I hate grey squirrels more in the abstract, than in actual fact -- they're quite lovable in their own right.

Matters of cold, hard fact; it would seem that probably the only chance for the British red squirrel, long-term, would be to have isolated havens for the species, which grey squirrels could not get to -- whether literal islands, or "virtual" ones such as the peninsulas at the very western end of Cornwall, where there might be a chance -- after the resident greys are eliminated -- of keeping greys from re-invading. It's a rather knotty problem...
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rynner2Online
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PostPosted: 20-09-2013 06:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

RNAS Culdrose helicopter flies red squirrels to Tresco

Twenty red squirrels have been flown over to Tresco on the Isles of Scilly to boost a breeding experiment.
Five of the rare endangered native mammals were introduced last year, but only two survived.
The new colony of squirrels from the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey, was flown over by a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall.

Mike Nelhams of Tresco Abbey Gardens said the colony could start breeding as early as next year.
"Tresco is an ideal place for these very cute little animals," he told BBC News.
"We have a lovely woodland for them, there are no natural predators and with no grey squirrels, they are safe from squirrel pox."

The native red squirrel population has been decimated by squirrel pox [parapoxvirus], which is carried by the grey squirrels that were introduced in the UK in the late 19th Century.
Grey squirrels have built up a natural immunity to the virus, but it is fatal to red squirrels, which are now extinct in many parts of Great Britain.
According to the Forestry Commission there are about 140,000 red squirrels left in the wild, compared with more than two million greys.

Mr Nelhams said the idea of introducing red squirrels, mooted by Daily Telegraph wildlife columnist Robin Page, has been supported by Prince Charles and Tresco's owner Robert Dorrien-Smith.
The Prince of Wales is the patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST).

The new arrivals "hitched a ride" on a Royal Navy search-and-rescue helicopter during a routine training exercise.
"We have the heliport here and as it's not unknown for the Culdrose helicopters to touch down here. We held off getting the squirrels until it coincided with a training exercise to test equipment," Mr Nelhams said.

The red squirrels will be released from their cages on Friday and will be free to roam the Abbey woodland.
However, Mr Nelhams said food and water would be provided for them every day until they could forage sufficiently for themselves and no longer needed to be fed.

"The ones we have are quite sociable little creatures and make their way back most days for hazelnuts, fruit and vegetables," he said.
"In terms of their natural diet, red squirrels love pine cones and the magnificent Monterey pines we have here on Tresco means there's a huge supply of cones."

The squirrels - believed to be an even mix of males and females - are about a year old and could begin breeding in the spring.
Litters vary between one and six, but the average is three.
Mr Nelham said it was "highly unlikely" Tresco would become overrun by red squirrels.
"It's very early days, but if the numbers really grow we could probably catch some - they're quite easy to catch - and relocate them - perhaps even to Cornwall."

The Cornwall Red Squirrel Project is currently culling grey squirrels ahead of plans to reintroduce red squirrels in two parts of the county - the Lizard and West Penwith.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-24164247
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 20-09-2013 11:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read it as Tesco!

But I'm sure their squirrel burgers would be grey. Sad
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 20-09-2013 15:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner2 wrote:
RNAS Culdrose helicopter flies red squirrels to Tresco

The Prince of Wales is the patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST).

I have little use for that guy; but at least we're on the same page where squirrels are concerned.

Quote:

Mr Nelham said it was "highly unlikely" Tresco would become overrun by red squirrels.
"It's very early days, but if the numbers really grow we could probably catch some - they're quite easy to catch - and relocate them - perhaps even to Cornwall."

The Cornwall Red Squirrel Project is currently culling grey squirrels ahead of plans to reintroduce red squirrels in two parts of the county - the Lizard and West Penwith.

I can envisage trouble-and-bother ahead, with naturalists tearing their hair about Tresco's ecology being thrown horribly out of kilter by the invasion of those ****ing alien squirrels; but as the man says, possibility if need be, of catching them and sending them off to "another sector of the front".


And James Whitehead wrote: "I read it as Tesco ! But I'm sure their squirrel burgers would be grey."

When I briefly visited Tresco a few years ago, I kept wondering, "Is there a Tesco on Tresco -- and if not, why not?"

I have a considerable wish to try grey squirrel, eating-wise (it's supposed to be good, quite like rabbit) -- and, would be a token gesture in the war against the American interloper... The problem is, sourcing it -- if one is not a skilled hunter-and-trapper on one's own account. Can be done, I gather, but not easily -- will keep trying. (Have the recipes already.)
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PostPosted: 22-09-2013 12:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I have little use for that guy


Nor me.

I have a considerable wish to try grey squirrel, eating-wise

I don't think I could bring myself to, I've got a bit of a hang up about eating small animals. Except for rabbits for some reason, and ducks. In fact I'm definitely OK with ducks.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 23-09-2013 17:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

And in purely practical terms, if creatures are much smaller than rabbit-size, it becomes questionable whether it's worth the effort. (Those southern Europeans who kill and eat small wild birds, would probably think otherwise.)

I find that I'd be cool with squirrels -- grey, of course. In part, because I gather that sciurus carolinensis is quite widely eaten (by humans) in its native North America -- the dish concerned, known I believe as "Brunswick stew". ISTR that it's reckoned rather down-market and hillbilly-ish, but not completely beyond the pale.
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PostPosted: 23-09-2013 19:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(Those southern Europeans who kill and eat small wild birds, would probably think otherwise.)


Yes, but they'd be wrong.

As much of a fascination I have with the Ancient Romans one thing which fills me with horror is their rodent eating.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 23-09-2013 21:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldrover wrote:
Quote:
(Those southern Europeans who kill and eat small wild birds, would probably think otherwise.)


Yes, but they'd be wrong.

As much of a fascination I have with the Ancient Romans one thing which fills me with horror is their rodent eating.

Dormice in honey and poppy seeds? -- there's nothing like it ! (In the Lewis Carroll sense -- "I didn't say there was nothing better; I said there was nothing like it.")
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JamesWhiteheadOffline
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PostPosted: 23-09-2013 22:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

amyasleigh wrote:
. . . it's reckoned rather down-market and hillbilly-ish, but not completely beyond the pale.


Good enough for Elvis. Smile

Those Roman dormice sound quite tasty to me. Not a lot of eating on them, I'd imagine. Spiny
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 24-09-2013 07:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

JamesWhitehead wrote:

Those Roman dormice sound quite tasty to me. Not a lot of eating on them, I'd imagine. Spiny

Yes, I'd think they were a starter, rather than a main course !

Interesting short article on the Romans and their dormice:

www.gourmet.com/food/2007/11/dormouse
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 24-09-2013 17:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

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?
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PostPosted: 24-09-2013 18:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
you can survive on mice if that's what you want to do


You're fine, I'll stick to bacon.

Quote:
Interesting short article on the Romans and their dormice:

www.gourmet.com/food/2007/11/dormouse


As much as I'd like to read about Roman cookery I'm afraid to click that link in case there are pictures. Seriously I see some gruesome things that bother me not at all, but the thought of looking on a dressed mouse, as featured on 'The Supersizers Eat Ancient Rome', fills me with horror.
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amyasleighOffline
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PostPosted: 24-09-2013 19:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldrover wrote:

Quote:
Interesting short article on the Romans and their dormice:

www.gourmet.com/food/2007/11/dormouse


As much as I'd like to read about Roman cookery I'm afraid to click that link in case there are pictures. Seriously I see some gruesome things that bother me not at all, but the thought of looking on a dressed mouse, as featured on 'The Supersizers Eat Ancient Rome', fills me with horror.

Don't worry -- the only picture is of a very cute dormouse, alive and well in the wild.
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