As part of this year’s NIEA Challenge fund 2013-2014 we have been successful in being granted funding to establish 4-6 Red squirrel Ranger posts in the Glens.

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The survival of the Red Squirrel is dependent on constant vigilance against a number of serious threats:
– The Grey Squirrel (carries disease and out competes the Red for food)
– People (through ignorance and environmental vandalism and loss of Habitat)

The Red Squirrel Ranger project will seek to train and equip 4-6 dedicated volunteers to carry out:-

1. Grey Squirrel Control

2. Make and distribute Red Squirrel Feeders.

2. Maintain Red Squirrel Feeders

3. Engage with schools and the public to increase awareness of the Red squirrel and establish a     network of people to extend      Red squirrel conservation practice.

4. To spearhead planting projects of native trees that will become a long term food source for Red  Squirrels.

 

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The Rangers will have a Glens Red Squirrel Group Ranger badge on their uniform and will be able to engage with private landowners and will be accepted as official representatives of the GRSG.

There will be school visits by “Rangers” to deliver a common educational package.

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Some of this work has already started and more is yet to take place. We will be adding and updating this page as we do this work our feeder up date page is one of our most active pages, this is work being carried out by or Ranger as the feed reds and carry out other tasks such as grey squirrel control.

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27-02-2014 A Public meeting about Red Squirrels and the control of Greys was held in Ballygally Hall. The meeting was well attended by people willing to help red by taking the first step of accepting that the grey squirrels cause a meager problem in the area.  We talked about work we had carried out in parts of the glens and outlaying areas where greys had been removed and reds had moved back into.  Those at the meeting were glad to hear that this work was doable and had good results in other places.

5-03-2014 A meeting in Broughshane House,Broughshane to meet with groups interested in the work the the Glens Red Squirrel group is doing and our work with grey squirrel control. Setting the way for a larger public meeting to engage with the community to take place over the next few weeks.

Rangers took part in constructing a Red Squirrel Play Ground in Glemona Cushendun on 15th March. see more photos on FaceBook and our Flickr page.

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Remember to keep up to date with our Rangers Feeder up dates of all our feed sites ,see photos and what is happening in the site eg grey control, forestry work, squirrels condition, feeder usage and more. Click on the tab at the top of the page Feeder updates or us this link.                 http://glensredsquirrelgroup.com/category/feeders/

Tree Planting at Broughbammon Farm. 19-03-2014

Vice Chair and one or our Squirrel Rangers Daniel McAfee atBroughgammon Farm ‘one million trees in one day’ event. Broughgammon Farm has carried out a lot of planting on their farm over the last few years. Their farm backs on to Broughgammon Forest that is home to a large population of Red Squirrels as well as other wildlife. The new trees as they grow into larger seed baring trees will play vital role to these reds and wildlife supplying them with food and cover to live.

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Garron Nature Reserve

With support from the NIEA NGO Challenge Fund the Glens Red Squirrel Rangers in co-operation with St. Killian’s College ECO Club have established a Nature Reserve in part of the College grounds.
Red Squirrel Feeders, Bird Boxes, Bird Feeders have been put in place and plans are in place for Bat Boxes and the planting of native Trees.

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22-03-14 Cushendun Funday

Info Stall at Cushendun fun day in Glenmona before event starting. Maned by Rangers Daniel McAfee and Gerard McCaughan with help from group members Silvia and Molly.

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22-03-14 Ballintoy & Dunseverick Youth Club

After giving the youth group a talk about Red Squirrels and other local wildlife. A BIG BIG thanks for the donation from the Youth Group to the Glens Red Squirrel Group it will help us carry out our work in the Glens.
It was a good nights and everyone enjoyed the evening.

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Ranger Daniel McAfee with Rev Patrick Barton and Sharon Walker from Ballintoy & Dunseverick Youth Club.

22-03-14 Carnfunnock Walk

The Ballygally Group met at 3.00pm on Saturday 22 March and did a walk and survey of Carnfunnock Country Park. In spite of a sudden shower the Group finished the walk in bright sunshine and noted a number of locations that would be suitable for Traps.

The next step will be placing Feeders to draw in Grey Squirrels at the back of Carnfunnock.
This will take place on Thursday 3 April.

Ballygally Group at Carnfunnock Country Park 22 March 2014

Ballygally Group at Carnfunnock Country Park 22 March 2014

The Rangers have been able to get equipment that will help them carry out the fight against Grey squirrels that are making their way into the glens and  threatening the survival of the local red squirrels. Equipment such as cage traps will help our rangers to trap out larger  and more areas, where we get grey squirrel reports.  This will speed up the removal of greys from those areas.

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The Rangers have just received two FLIR Infra Red Cameras. These will be an invaluable tool in locating Grey Squirrels in dense undergrowth and will enable the Rangers to follow Red Squirrels across the Treetops when they cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Scout Cameras

Also thanks to the Challenge Fund four Bushnell HD “Trophy” Cameras have been purchased to allow monitoring of Feeding sites and areas of potential incursion of Grey Squirrels. As well as being used as an educational tool that will be used to show children what other wild life use our feed sites such as birds and mammals like fox,badgers, deer, pine marten ect. This camera can give us a window to view natural behavior of all kinds of animals and the interaction between animals.

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Just had a great talk with the Ballintoys Young at Heart group. Great group of people a truly enjoyable talk. A lot of sightings of reds and greys from the surrounding areas.

9-05-14  Garron Nature Reserve

Rangers Daniel and Vincent carried out additional tree and hedge planting in the Garron Nature Reserve. IMG_0201 WP_20140509_10_24_40_Pro WP_20140509_11_14_19_Pro WP_20140509_11_31_20_Pro

 

12-05-14 Ballycastle Brownies and Rainbows forestry walk in Ballycastle Forest. Was a great walk everyone had fun and enjoyed it.

Ballycastle Brownies and Rainbows with red squirrel Ranger Daniel McAfee as the go on a forestry walk.

 

 

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Daniel took Ballycastle St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s ps p3 pupils on a guided walk of Ballycastle forest. There was lost of thing to see bee, butterfly s, flowers and trees sadly no squirrels. The forestry was busy with a few dog walkers. A good walk with everyone seeing something new. The children all enjoyed it and will hopefully take their family’s up to explore the forestry.

Ballycastle St Patrick's and St Brigid's ps p3 pupils and Red Squirrel Ranger Daniel Mcafee

 

20-05-14 Local News Paper coverage.

This weeks Ballymoney Times gave the Red Squirrel Rangers and the work we do, are planing to do and have done great coverage.

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4-6-2014 European visitors and school walk.

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As part of a European teacher visit to local primary school. Ballycastle Ranger Daniel McAfee was approached by St Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s Primary School to gave a guided walk of Ballycastle Forestry for the European visitors and a p5 class. The group consisted of 36 children, 2 teachers from St.Patrick’s and St Brigid’s PS and 8 of the visiting teachers. The Visiting teachers came from all across Europe France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Slovenia.

Ranger Daniel presented the visiting teachers with the Glens Red Squirrel Group educational information book.

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There was much to see and hear as at this time of the year the forest is alive with bird song and the buzz of insects. Many of the trees,plants and flowers were identified and the children were told how each linked into the role of the forest and the life of the insects,birds and mammals all year round.

With such a large group in the forestry expectations of seeing a red squirrels was low due to the sound of the group making their way along the newly stoned road way, but this was not the case as every one was able to see a red squirrel happily feeding at one of the new feeders put in place by the Ballycastle Brownies and Rainbows group. The Red Squirrel sat for several minutes at a distance before running up into the tree and out of sight.

The children, teachers and Squirrel Ranger were over the moon with the brief and unexpected sighting.

School take up the chance.

On the weeks leading up to squirrel week we contacted the 3 local primary school in the Ballycastle area. This was a pilot project to see what the up take would be. All the schools took up the chance of talks and or walks and some took up both with different year groups.

 

All the children enjoyed the talks, seeing the videos of squirrels from our wild view camera, seeing the evidence of squirrels (cones and how squirrels eat them) and seeing the two stuffed squirrels. We were able to link our talk to some of the subjects the children were learning about at the time seasons, where do animals live, local wild life and the woods. Teachers were given a teachers education packet with activities and work that the children can do. There was also a coloring sheet that the children could do in class and take home.

 

The schools that took the opportunity of going on a wood land walk in Ballycastle got to cover several items from birds, animals, food chains, tree, plants, pollination, fruits and seed identification along with squirrel information and long with many of the questions from children and teachers.

 

With the success of this year the pilot will be expanded to other areas in the Glens. This will be subject to the time of our volunteer Ranger.

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Rangers and group members assist in Survey.

Volunteers from the Squirrel Group will be working with scientists from Quercus (QUB), over the coming months to help survey Northern Ireland’s woodlands for red squirrels, grey squirrels and pine marten. The NIEL Challenge Fund survey will involve over 80 “citizen scientists” from across the country visiting 160 locations to look for these woodland inhabitants.
The information collected by the volunteers will contribute to a wider project looking at the conservation status of pine marten in Northern Ireland. Anecdotally, pine marten numbers have been increasing in parts of the country so Quercus have set out, with the help of their citizen scientists, to determine what is going on. This information has added importance now that increasing pine marten numbers in the Republic of Ireland have been linked to the decline of grey squirrels. Therefore its recovery may be good for our once declining red squirrel.
If you would like more information on the project you can visit Quercus’ Facebook page or email Dr Dave Tosh (d.tosh@qub.ac.uk)

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Ranger Awarded by his work for his work.

BT has rewarded The Glens Red Squirrel Group a grant of £700 to recognise the group’s commitment to protecting and maintaining the population of Red Squirrels in the Glens of Antrim.

The grant has been awarded through the company’s employee recognition scheme “The BT People Awards”  The scheme recognises and rewards BT’s volunteers, who offer  their  time and skills to help people in their local communities, by providing grants to the organisations in which they are directly involved.

Gerard Mc Caughan, a BT Employee, volunteers for the Glens Red Squirrel Group and he nominated them for the BT People Award.  Gerard, a Ranger with the Group said “We have some fantastic ideas of how we can use this money to give the maximum benefit to Red Squirrels in the Glens.

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Range and School work to engage children with saving reds.

The members of the St. Killian’s College ECO Club started the New Year on a very positive note for their local Red Squirrels. They got together in the lunch hour and helped Red Squirrel Ranger Joe put together nine new Feeders so that a new change and clean routine can be adopted.
Senior pupils will now be taking over responsibility for maintaining the Feeders to ensure the Reds remain fit and healthy over the winter.
The Feeders will be located in the Garron Nature Reserve which is in the college grounds and at the main entrance to the college in front of the Reception area.
The students are also on the lookout for the invasive Grey Squirrel and will be reporting any sightings to the Red Squirrel Rangers who will deal with them.

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Project to Protect.

An event in Carnfunnock Country Park marks the start of the Protecting our Native Species” (PONS) project.

The event went well will volunteers and GRSG members keen to get hands on with trapping to start positive action on removing the nonnative Grey squirrel.
The greatest threat to our native wildlife, songbirds, Trees and Red squirrels is the invasive and alien Grey Squirrel. This predator devastates songbird’s nests, destroys trees and carries a fatal disease that will kill a Red squirrel in a matter of weeks.
Some of those who attended could remember reds in the are but it has been over 20 years from seeing their last red squirrel. They are keen to help get reds back to the area and are aware the 1st step to take is to remove the greys. The grey squirrel are a regular sight and their numbers are on the up year on year.
Positive Action had been taken last year but with limited resources only so much could be done, with the help of the Challenger fund more can be done this year to remove greys.

Trap training by Joe

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A walk for Logan.

The Glens Red Squirrel Group would like to thank the parents of Logan Crawford for their very kind donation to the group in Logan’s name.
Logan had a love for all things furry, feathered and creepy crawly. The family wished to mark his interest in wild life locally and thought it fitting to make a donation to the Glens Red Squirrel Group who work across the Glens and more fittingly in Ballycastle forest where Logan and his father would go walking looking for all kinds of wildlife.

The Glens Red Squirrel Group have marked this kind donation by erecting a feeder in Logan’s memory. The feeder has a plaque with Logan’s name and a verse selected by his family with a red squirrel feeding. This is the only feeder in all of the Glens that will have a squirrel at it every time you visit it.

Walk done by ranges Daniel and Gerard.

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Community Hedge revisited.

Group members,Ballycastle Community Development Group members and Moyle council biodiversity officer Rachel Bain took part in the community hedge revisited Day. To weed and prune the hedge that was planted just before the start of 2014. Over that year the grass and weed had grown around the young plants. So to give the Hedge the best chance of growing well it was decided to call back and help them out by weeding away last years growth and a slight prune to let the plants thicken.This may be need done until the Hedge is established.

A small amount of re-planting was done in areas where plants had died or had been pulled out. One weeded we were happy to fund that there was very little planting needing done. We planted more in one section where the plants had not been expected to do so well because of poor/no soil. The youngest members who took part planted this with section with Hazel so there was no thorns for small fingers.

It was a good mornings work with everyone putting in 100%  effort.

A Job well done thanks to all who took part.

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The Curragh Project, Glenshesk.

Ranger Gerard McCaughan

Since I started supplementary feeding the red squirrels I was aware that my feeding was short term. What I needed to do was plan for the future. Last winter I noticed the number of trees that were coped by the storms was having an effect on the plantations that I visit regularly.  If things continued, the local reds will be totally reliant on my feeding. What I needed in the Glen was to replace the fallen trees.  During my travels I had talked to a number of landowners who had woodlands that could be improved for the reds by the planting of suitable trees. One landowner, Richard Mc Caughan, was very interested and offered a section of woodland for my project.  The site,” The Curragh”, about 2 acres, at present is mixed woodland with a large area of bracken. Not far from the Curragh are two sites that are very important to my reds. The main one at the “Big Bridge” was planted about 100 years ago. These larch are starting to thin out with every storm. The other beside “The Inlet” is Scott Pine and is about 90 years old, planted by my Grandfather and his brothers. Between these two areas is “Darragh” which is natural woodland with plenty of Hazel.

I approached Alan Morrow, DARD regarding my plans. He gave the go ahead and then the serious planning began. With considerable help from theHeart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme my plans are taking shape. I am leaving all the existing trees and hazel bushes. The planting will be 80% Scott Pine, and a mix of Wild Cherry, Crab Apple, Oak, Holly and Willow, all red squirrel friendly trees  There is a spring near the bottom of the area which I am including in my plans. I hope to plant some the willows here.

 Part 2 will report on the completion of my project.

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