Thursday, January 28, 2016

Red Squirrel Survey

Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels is a group I have helped for a while now.

I started helping their squirrel survey last year.  This year will be more of the same.

There was a call from the Dumfries & Galloway headquarters for help to mix up the bags of bait to go in the squirrel boxes.
bags of maize, sunflower seeds and peanuts to be mixed
Each volunteer is in charge of a section on the map.  These sections or tetrads (2km by 2km square  area) have four baited squirrel feeders in them.
Maps of where our tetrads are located
On the underside of the feeder lid is as bit of velcro with sticky tape on it.  If an animal lifts the lid to get food, the sticky tape will grab a few hairs as payment for the food.
squirrel feeders
Every two weeks, volunteers will change the tapes and add more bait.  The tapes are then sealed and sent off to be analyzed.  This keeps going until there are four samples collected.

Looking at the hairs under the microscope is fun.  Volunteers don't get to do this, but I had a shot at it one afternoon.  The hair of most small mammals can be identified by their hair.  Red squirrel, grey squirrel, badger, rat, mouse and sometimes pine martens!

It turns out that the red squirrel hairs are distinctive.  They aren't completely round, there is a groove down one side.  If you sliced the hair into sections, the cross section would have a kidney shape.

My tetrad isn't far from the house and I'm looking forward to finding out what's out there.
126 bags of mixed squirrel bait

This is the bags of mixed bait.  Two parts maize, to one part peanuts and one part sunflower seeds.

AND our squirrels have returned.  I have identified two different animals coming to the feeders.  A male and a female red squirrel.  As soon as the rain lets up, I'm going to move our squirrel feeder across the road.  I don't want any further deaths on our road.  I'll miss seeing them come to the feeder for nuts, but I must put their needs before mine.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Welcome to the Family Ayla

Well now. . . I have another grandchild to welcome into the world!  She showed up on Hogmanay, 31st of December at about 10:40 in the morning.
Ayla has just been born and is looking around

Welcome to our family little Ayla.  We were surprised that you are a girl.  You're the first girl to be born in our family in some time.
Layla meets her Nana but has fallen asleep and gone floppy

We are all besotted by this little six and half pound little bundle.

Her big brother Jack is very gentle with her.  He cried when she cried yesterday.
 He said her crying made him sad.

Newborns are small but they are hard work!  My son falls asleep with his little daughter

She brings the grandchild total up to four!  I'm so very fortunate!