Our reds are still keeping up their appearances! February’s 21 monthly survey households again returned averages of around 2 for the number seen at the same time and recognisable individuals. Familiar hotspots yielded 5 (Skyreburn) and 4 (Anwoth, Cally, Laurieston Road) at the same time, with 5 recognisable at three of these locations. Some whiter tails seem to be developing now, so maybe even more will be recognisable by the end of this month.
Our control efforts over the winter seem to have paid dividends, with perhaps the fewest grey squirrel reports in February since the GSG started recording sightings in and around Gatehouse in March 2015. In particular all seems to be quiet at Carsluith and Carstramon, both of which have had a small but persistent grey presence until recently. Meanwhile our thermal imager is proving its worth already in other mopping up operations at Ardwall and Anwoth. Several of these greys would not have been detected without our new ‘hot eye’ device.
Already eight people have borrowed the imager to ‘have a go’ for a few days. We are all finding that dull days are best: there is a lot of infrared (heat) about if the sun is out and looking into the tree canopy becomes a totally red experience! It takes practice to scan an area of woodland thoroughly, but squirrel detection is massively increased by doing so, not least because our device can see through vegetation! Follow up with binoculars identifies the species, but the change in magnification between the imager (default x2.5) and binoculars (typically x8 or x10) is confusing without practice.
Our plan for a public hide in woodland near Cally Gardens is progressing. Kevin Hughes and I have now agreed a bespoke design and are ready to go out to tender with a number of local firms in order to get a realistic idea of what this actually is going to cost.
Peter Garson, Chairman