Squirrels don’t read the script!

Rhandirmwyn has long been a key location in the red squirrel project. Ironically, one of the first grey squirrel records in mid-Wales was in Rhandirmwyn in the 1950s. but since then, red squirrels have been more regularly seen. Thanks to its remote location and the dedicated work of some key volunteers, many residents of Rhandirmwyn have had the pleasure of seeing red squirrels in or around their houses in the past 20 years. However, in the last year or so sightings had got fairly quiet, with no new sightings from late 2020 into early 2021, and we had been largely unsuccessful in pinning down the location of the Rhandirmwyn Reds with camera trapping. We believe this reduction in records is down to forestry activities close to the village, and the red squirrels just shifting nearby.

trail camera image of a brownish looking red squirrel on a mossy lump with a sitka spruce cone in its mouth

This was one of the first images we got of red squirrels in Cwm Rhaeadr

Then, in September 2021 we received a report through our website of a red squirrel in the nearby Cwm Rhaeadr woods. The report came from a local who regularly used the woods for mountain biking. He was biking up the track when he saw not one, but two red squirrels in a trackside tree. We visited a few weeks later and set up several camera traps. Over the winter, we recorded red squirrels at several locations in the forest, and in a few places, caught multiple squirrels in one shot. We were quite hopeful that this story was going to culminate in trapping a few squirrels and finding out how related they are to those elsewhere in the focal site… however, this didn’t happen.

a brownish red squirrel sits up holding a sitka spruce cone to its mouth

We set traps, baited them up for several weeks and only had one clip of a red squirrel, which appeared to be a lactating female. We decided to delay trapping by another week to ensure her kits were older and stronger, but no more squirrels visited our traps. We opened the traps for just over a week, but we caught no squirrels and our cameras confirmed that they weren’t visiting out of hours either.

They must have moved somewhere else, just as we arrived to pay them a visit, so now we start again at square 1, trying to track them down in order to trap them and learn more about this unique population of red squirrels! You can help us in this by reporting any red squirrel sightings to us on our website.