Squirrels!

We were asked by the Caldey Island Estate some time ago if we could help them achieve a long held ambition for free living red squirrels on the island. It’s been a long haul and the first job was to eradicate the rats. Quotes were gathered and funding sought and 18 months ago West Wales Pest Control started the arduous job of ridding Caldey of the rat population.

Simon and his team have done an incredible job and there is now not a single rat left on the 538 acre island. An achievement that ranks with the clearance of rats from other islands such as Lundy. Already we are starting to see puffins and other ground nesting sea birds returning. Rat monitoring will continue to take place in case they manage to hop onto a boat and cross to the island.

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A carload of squirrels!

A call from the wonderful David Mills of the British Wildlife Centre last week told us the squirrels were ready and there was a mad dash to collect them from Surrey and get them back to Tenby in time for the tide on Saturday morning.

The squirrels have now settled in well and are seen regularly in the trees and on the feeders Ben has put out for them.

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Drew

 

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Moonshadow

My dog woke me at inordinately early this morning.   I sleepily let her out and couldn’t help but notice the full moon lighting the yard, and the rush of cool, sweet air meeting my face as the door opened.

I went back to bed and relished the warm wrap of my duvet.    Sisal’s bark disappeared into the valley of the farm, as she happily chased who knows what, in the moon shadows.   I hope she’s not too long lest I fall asleep.

However, I notice and cannot ignore, a growing conflict:   warm bed, moonlit farm, warm bed, moonlit farm, warm bed… (sigh) moonlit farm…    A sigh because I know this to mean I will shortly be leaving my warm bed…  a sigh akin to that when indulging a child…’yes, get up, get dressed, go outside…’

Once seen, it cannot be unseen – and I had, in that moment, seen the moonlight.   Beautiful.   And it was calling.

Moonshadow was bathing  the landscape.   I disturbed a crow from its roost as I walked.  And as it took flight, it emitted a rarking caw which echoed down the valley, and was shortly answered by another crow in the distance.

I headed for the pond enclosure  hosting a family of beavers, and sure enough, there they were – although I couldn’t see them  I could hear the gentle lap of water to their swimming, the far reaching ripples illuminated by the moon, and the low, somewhat comforting grunt as they went about chewing a bit of wood, creating a dam, or maybe some other bit of domestic work to be done in their lodge…     Wonderfully oblivious to the hype, the discussions, the voluminous documentation which surrounds them.   They are just being beavers.

We humans can so complicate matters, fearfully.

The peace was palpable.

The sound of a rabbit meeting its end, in the jaws of a fox (I presume) filled the air…it uncomfortably seemed to go on for too long a time….yet even then the peace was still there.    An observer to all going on, and yet I was also part of it.   We are all part of it.   Life.  We are all part of the whole.

That was three and half hours ago….now the sun is shining and the quietude of my 4am moonlight meander is fast fading as I prepare for the day’s work ahead.    Already it seems a lifetime ago, yet something is lingering… something remains.    It is constant.

There for the seeing.    There in the being.

Jo

Beaver Study Days

We’ve had two beaver study days this week hosted by the Bevis Trust and Alicia Leow-Dyke from Wildlife Trusts Wales. On Tuesday we had 11 staff from Natural Resources Wales, two from Welsh Government and ten from local councils. On Wednesday we had 20 representatives from a variety of NGOs and Universities. It was a chance for visitors to get a first hand view of the effects beavers have on habitats and the techniques used to manage them. They were able to find beaver trails and field signs, see different dams, how some trees are targeted for food, others for building materials, and others avoided. We also had PowerPoint presentations and discussion sessions followed by BBQs and an opportunity to spend the evenings beaver watching. The three beaver families on the farm all have young kits just emerging so visitors were able to enjoy seeing them emerge from their lodges. As beavers expand both in numbers and range in Britain it is urgent that a proper management strategy is developed, under-pinned by appropriate legislation, so that the species can regain its place amongst British fauna with a minimum of conflict with other land-uses.

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Meanwhile we have been busy with the fencing and planting at Ricketts Mill. The predator fence will soon be complete. It is buried into the ground, and has one inch mesh to stop mink, with two electric strands to stop foxes. We are still planting reed beds and some of them are rooting well now. In a year or two they will start to provide habitat for a variety of species and it will be exciting to watch the gradual restoration process.

Nick