Thank you to our volunteer red squirrel surveyors!

Last month we reported that WTSWW had been successful with a significant grant (on behalf of the Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project) from the Welsh Government’s Ecosystem Resilience and Diversity fund, administered by CCW. The funding was to undertake a major red squirrel conservation project in north east Carmarthenshire, one part of the wider red squirrel project area.

Well, on a surprisingly sunny Sunday last month we were delighted to be supported by so many of our volunteers as we co-ordinated a squirrel survey of Forestry Commission Wales’ Caio forest.

Volunteers were allocated transects to survey for squirrel sightings and field signs. We were able to train the volunteers in squirrel survey techniques with help from Huw Denman of the red squirrel partnership, but also to generate important geo-referenced data on squirrel activity which would inform our future conservation work.

Red squirrel survey day by Lizzie Wilberforce

Red squirrel survey day by Lizzie Wilberforce

All the volunteers were trained and then issued with a photographic guide to squirrel signs and maps of their allocated transect areas. They then walked their allocated transect, keeping detailed records of any live squirrels (including which species), any squirrel-caused tree damage, any feeding signs (such as chewed cones which are very distinctive), and any dreys observed. Many volunteers recorded any other wildlife sightings which were subsequently added to our own records and shared with WWBIC, the local records centre.

A total of 42 individual records relating to the presence of squirrels were recorded- for a conifer plantation, there was significant evidence of squirrel use in many areas. A total of 18 non-squirrel records were also made, mostly birds such as raven and sparrowhawk. The squirrel signs were all mapped, and will be really useful data for the project. Sadly no red squirrels were seen on the day though! Perhaps next time

Many thanks to all who took part and contributed to our ongoing work to help save our red squirrels.