Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

It’s an action packed week on Friends of the Lake District’s land this week. On Monday we had our first workparty of the year at Gillside and Tongue Woods in Grasmere. More on this below. On Wed we're working on the Helm near Kendal, and on Friday we are delighted to have the public opening of Dam Mire Wood of Threlkeld with a whole host of activities people can join in with. Hopefully many members and friends will join us during the week at some of these events as we love to see you and have a chat. 

Yesterday we had a beautiful day at Gillside and Tongue Gill Woods near Grasmere. These are owned by FLD Members Bev and Jo Dennison Drake and managed by FLD for them. It was a great surprise to look up from tree staking and tube removal work to see  Bev who now lives in Gloucestershire appear through the trees! Bev and Jo put in a hydro electric plant at the bottom of the gill some years ago, and Bev had come to clean all the debris off the screens to allow more water to flow through and make more power.

It was great to be able to catch up and chat about future plans for the woods and current issues. The trees were just coming into leaf, primroses were flowering, violets appearing in the grass and the birds gave us song all day.

We also met up with Trevor from the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group who looks after the squirrels in the valley. He has some feeders for the squirrels that are topped up weekly. The nuts go on the top and sunflower seeds on the bottom. In amongst the latter are bits of maize. Red squirrels don’t eat maize but greys do, so if the maize stays untouched, it is a good sign that there are no greys around.

Another clever trick is to put sticky pads on the lid of the box, so it is possible to tell the colour of squirrels around by the hair that sticks to the pads!

Trevor told us there is about one red squirrel for every hectare of wood, so the six we have reflects the wood being just under 6ha in size! Amazingly, the squirrels can find new food feeders within about 20 minutes, amazing. Trevor also has a camera on the feeder to alert the group to grey squirrels. Protecting the reds is not just about giving them additional food, but also involves dispatching the greys as soon as possible.

It was so fascinating we could have stayed listening to Trevor and watching all day… so much so that we have plans for a public event in the summer involving both Bev to talk about the hydro plant, and Trevor to talk about and show us the squirrels. Even more exciting, we have decided to investigate whether we can resolve the power and technology issues to be able to live stream footage of the red squirrels so we can watch them whenever we wish. Watch this space….