Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Exciting progress! As it's late I won't bother posting it till tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are my new hypotheses which the whole project will be seeking to either prove or disprove, I've not sure which...
- Red squirrels’ will eat supplementary food whether a selective feeder is used, or not.
- Adult grey squirrels will not use the feeder.
- Young grey squirrels will use it.
- Thus less grey squirrels will use it as time passes and little grey squirrels grow up.
- Red feeding will not be affected by grey squirrels sharing their feeder.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Had tea with a fantastically independent 95 yr old lady in her house hidden away at the end of long winding road at the southern end of Ullswater. She doesn't have any neighbours but is visited by 3 red squirrels, one of which was eating her nuts just a few feet from where we were sitting. The first red squirrel! Sadly her back's 'like a dog's dinner' and she hasn't been able to get about so much this year. So not a candidate for the squirrel project. I'm going to send her some calcium to add to her squirrel nuts as her squirrels looked a bit deficient. That’s the problem with peanuts. Hence the hazelnuts my lucky squirrels will (hopefully) soon be scoffing (once I've found them).
Sadly the sun has resulted in rather silhouetted photos...
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Both these squirrels are red squirrels! That's why I'm going to be getting out a microscope to check whether any squirrel hairs have a little groove down them (red) or not (grey).
Squirrel Feeder Locations:
Gardens where someone feeds: Red squirrels; grey squirrels (if I can find anyone that really does feed grey squirrels); both squirrels
- Replace the squirrel’s normal feeder with a standard hopper+sticky tape and keep it topped up with hazelnuts
- Record each day the no. hairs of each species that are stuck to tape
- Let X days pass for habituation
- Add a Selective Feeder around the hopper
- Record each day: weight of nuts taken; continue hair counts and identification.
- Record for X minutes at X o’clock each day how many squirrels successfully feed
Now to find some dedicated people that feed the local squirrels in their garden. Maybe they would even like to collect, each day, the little hairs squirrels leave stuck stuck to sticky tape...
Oh yeah, and read some journals to fill in the X's
Just got thru to a professional squirrel person on the phone. Seems he isn't always out but that I had a wrong number... Some people really know their squirrel stuff! Chats with all these knowledgeable people have confirmed my suspicions that:
- I can sit in the wood in front of hazelnuts for a month but it's anyones' guess as to whether any squirrels might turn up, regardless of whether the woods teeming with the things or not.
- You can measure how fast nuts are eaten...
- ...and trap squirrel hairs on sticky tape (squirrel hairs actually look prety much the same whether from red or grey except that under a microscope you can see a groove running down the hair of a red squirrel. Usefull).
- There are lots of helpful 'save red squirrels' people around. Some of them already feed squirrels in their back garden.
I forsee an action plan is likely to be posted up very soon.
I’m just back from a morning spent in the woods on tour. Not just any old woods, Gosforth Nature Reserve is home to the selective squirrel feeders. Veronica has been feeding the reds using these feeders ever since finding the critical size 3 years ago, tho sadly the squirrels have gone hungry recently as she has a broken ankle from her exploits! Even so, she ventured out with her crutch on the trek around reserve along with myself and her husband John. No squirrels appeared for a photo opportunity despite half an hour spent whispering in a hide, tho I had an exciting introduction to my first feeders: "
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"
Saturday, May 28, 2005
The only squirrel I've seen today was found on google. The meeting of the real thing's been re-scheduled to a rather early hour tomorrow morning. All the other squirrel experts I know of seem to be out, as any sensable person should be on a sunny afternoon.
However, there is still exciting progress! Here I present
'The Four Selective Feeder Questions'
- Can all reds get nuts?
- Can any greys get nuts?
- Do less reds get nuts when there are greys around too?
- Do more squirrels get nuts the longer the feeders up?
There is also an unofficial question: Will any squirrels turn up if I sit in a wood for 4 weeks watching a wire box with nuts inside? I hope to have an answer tomorrow after speaking to the people that really know about squirrels.
Friday, May 27, 2005
I'm armed with 3 fuzzy photographs of what looks more like a squirrel cage than their potential saviour. Planning a project to test whether this cube of mesh will let red squirrels get to their food while excluding their grey rivals is proving tricky to fit into my one month of squirrel-project time.
Tomorrow I meet the lady who has pioneered the feeder, learning along with her local red squirrels what size of hole lets them through to eat while excluding the greys. After years of trial and error she thinks she's almost perfected the critical size. Tomorrow I hope to see first hand the sight of a red squirrel squeezing through to get a hazelnut!