Mid-Project Update

We are now just pasted the half way point of the Healthy Reds project, and whilst the pandemic has drastically shaped and changed what this past year has looked like, we’re really pleased with what we have achieved and are incredibly excited for what’s to come!

In the past year, we have confirmed pine marten presence in Clywedog and Cwm Berwyn, and confirmed red squirrel cohabitation in these locations. We also had pine martens breeding in one of our red squirrel nest boxes installed above Strata Florida- which, due to restrictions, was one of the only monitored pine marten breeding location last year. We have since installed metal plates on our squirrel nest boxes making the holes smaller, so the martens will have had to have found somewhere else this season! (not to worry- there are specially made pine marten nest boxes not far away!)

We’re starting trapping imminently, and, as well as taking the hair samples for DNA analysis, we will be marking each red squirrel we catch by clipping away some fur from their tail. By doing a different pattern of “notches” on each squirrel, we will be able to identify individuals if we trap them a second time, not only telling us not to take hair samples again, but also telling us how far that individual has travelled from its original trapping location. We’re also really excited to find out to what extent these tail markings can be seen in the field. For some of those lucky enough to living next-door to red squirrels, we wonder if they’ll be able to see the markings in the squirrels tails and tell us which one is visiting their gardens! We will also be trialling the use of trail cameras to detect this, which will give us even more information about the travel habits of individual squirrels, if we’re able to “read” their tail patterns in trail camera clips. So watch this space! We’ve got lots to do and are thrilled to find out more about our red squirrels!