Red Squirrels in the Lune Catchment – 2015
Gary Murphy, Upper Eden Red Squirrel Officer, reports for the Lune Rivers Trust.
Red squirrels are doing well on the River Lune from Bessy Beck Fish Farm, Newbiggin-on-Lune down river to Waterside Caravan Park, Firbank, near Sedbergh. Further downstream red squirrels have been seen at Hawking Hall and Rigmaden, south of Middleton. This is because a lot of greys have been culled from Leck beck up to Sedbergh (over 500 as far as we know – my count so far is over 300 from Sedbergh up through the Eden valley).
A new Sedbergh group is being set up so anyone interested in looking after the red squirrel or getting rid of the greys can contact Emma Palmer on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The grey squirrel represents a serious and growing threat to our native woodlands and priority species. We are working with a team of rangers and contractors to undertake grey squirrel control in areas important for red squirrels. This team is working alongside private landowners and local red squirrel groups to build the effective control networks needed to prevent further loss of red squirrels through disease transmission and food competition with grey squirrels. Greys take seven times more food than reds and are able to forage on berries and nuts before they are fully ripe, thus removing valuable food stores from reds. Grey squirrels also carry the squirrel pox virus to which they are immune, but which is deadly to reds.
Monitoring results from red squirrel groups show there are still red squirrels right across northern England, a great testament to the conservation efforts already in place.
Gary Murphy, Upper Eden Red Squirrel Officer, reports for the Lune Rivers Trust. Gary is able to offer advice on trapping and is eager to have sightings of red squirrels which may have moved into your area.
2012 was a great year for red squirrels up and down the River Lune. Reds are now being seen regularly from Newbiggin down to Sedbergh where there are strong populations. Gary has dispatched 300 grey squirrels from the Tebay area this year. A large number of greys have been trapped on the Jordanland shoot at Middleton and we have had reports of reds in new areas down the river towards Barbon. On 14th November 2012 two reds were seen at Lowgill Railway Terrace and the lady there now sees them every day.
Gary has had some interesting wildlife sightings in the course of his work. He was lucky enough to see the osprey on Killington lake this year. (This is an area where we hope ospreys will nest in the future.) While red squirrel watching by the waterfall at Shap Wells Hotel Gary was lucky enough to see a large otter playing under the waterfall.
If you are a landowner or woodland owner and would like advice on managing your land to improve habitat for red squirrel, please contact the Lune Rivers Trust.
To help control the greys in your area, please contact Gary on 01539 624 788 or 07974 788434
Photograph Copyright Sarah McNeil