Sep 23 2020

Our new furry friends provide lockdown solace

Back in July I emailed all Scotland volunteers to see how lockdown life was for you all, and I received some heart-warming responses, some about life in general, and some about your ongoing volunteering activity.


I’d like to share one of those stories with you.


Christine Goetz is one of our trusty red squirrel volunteers at our Ledmore and Migdale site near Bonar Bridge. In October 2019 we partnered with conservation charity Trees for Life and together relocated twenty red squirrels from populations in Moray and Inverness to this beautiful spot in Sutherland, an area from where red squirrels had disappeared. 


Our trusty team of twelve red squirrel monitoring volunteers assist with reviewing the success of the project by recording sightings, as well as topping up the squirrel feeders on a rota basis. 


Christine has found great solace in her volunteering role during lockdown.


Here is what she had to say:


All is well in the land north of the wall!
I’ve been topping up squirrel feeders on a two week basis throughout lockdown – was great to have this duty to nature to take me into the woods to escape…


I work as a carer for my 94 year old Dad – and although l wouldn’t be doing anything else – there are circles of work that are repetitive and can become dull – we have social distanced and kept safe so far as l continue to care for him.


For me it is so healthy for my mind to have another duty of care that also gives me free time on my own – a responsibility without the responsibility – if you can understand that!


I still haven’t seen a single squirrel! …but know that they exist and for me that is enough as l don’t need to witness them to have accomplishment – it is nice they are not disturbed too much! They have their habitat and l have mine – l cycle in, on my mountain bike – top up feeders and cycle home again feeling that all is well in the land!


Ross Watson, Site Manager for Ledmore and Migdale, is delighted that the red squirrel reintroduction project has taken on a whole new dimension during lockdown.  The squirrels have well and truly settled into their new home have been taking centre stage for the community in the village of Bonar Bridge, which is close to the site. Local residents, like many of us, unexpectedly grounded at home with more time on their hands, have thoroughly enjoyed watching the animals both on our site and as they have begun to venture further afield including into the village.  Squirrels have been visiting garden feeders, with the excellent news that young kits have been spotted too.  Read more and see a stunning video from the project here.  


Glenys Munro, one of the other red squirrel volunteers, sent us these wonderful images of her garden visitors.  The squirrels she has captured in her photos have their own idea about getting involved in photography!


Ledmore and Migdale squirrels visiting Glenys’s garden – on the wrong side of the camera!



















One of our newbies from our site tucking into a feast in Glenys’s garden!


…and because they are just so lovely, here is a selection of some more of her images.  Thanks so much Glenys for sharing them.






This one is definitely destined for a caption competition!


Matilda Scharsach

Scotland Volunteering Development Officer

  • JamesLow

    A very worthy project. However, it would be interesting to know the science behind the translocation exercise. Where from and how were the squirrels captured? Did the capture ensure that there was a good genetic mix in the squirrels? What sex and age were they? What was required in terms of getting a licence to translocate? How is the success of the project being monitored? Is there any report available.
    I enquire out of an interest in squirrels. I replenish the squirrel feeder boxes at the Trust’s Kinclaven Bluebell Wood in eastern Perthshire which is on the Red/Grey frontier. I think my efforts have led to a significant increase in the number of Reds albeit we still have sightings of Greys now and again. It does concern me though that the Red populations survive in relatively isolated pockets and that the gene pool is therefore locally quite restricted. I wonder whether the SWT Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project carries out translocations throughout Scotland with a view to reducing the risks of in-breeding and improving the general health of the populations.

    October 6, 2020 at 3:47 pm
  • JamesLow

    Thank you.

    October 28, 2020 at 9:18 pm

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