Please see our photo gallery above for some of our January/February highlights.
In order of display:
Sunlight shining through a new Honeysuckle leaf
A January sky
Pine cones, Spruce cones and hazelnuts - squirrel food
Walking through the conifers
We readily admit that we are smitten with our red squirrels – and we make no apologies for writing about them once more! Their endearing charm, their individual traits, their vulnerability, along with their day to day actions all contribute to their appeal and we feel very privileged to be allowed such insights into their lives.
At a time when much of the wood is at slumber, the red squirrels have been a constant presence this winter and have provided some much appreciated life and activity. As daylight gradually draws out the reds are staying out for noticeably longer. Whereas December saw a 2pm cut-off time before they retired for the day, in January we have witnessed the occasional sighting of a red as late as 4pm.
One of their main activities at this time of year is filling their tummies – and boy, are they hungry! At the top end of the wood, on one particular morning, we watched with astonishment two reds taking it in turn to eat 54, followed by 70, followed by a further 160 sunflower seeds. Fitted in-between this seed scoffing, they still managed to find room for a handful of monkey nuts whilst busying themselves burying hazelnuts for consumption at a later date!
What's more, we are pretty sure that some different reds are down at the bottom end of the wood. They sit in the Norway spruces, feasting on the cones. Underneath them, the woodland floor is carpeted with the scales and remains of chewed cones.
And Greys Too...
But our little population of red squirrels is fragile and all cannot be guaranteed to be hunky-dory. The threat of grey squirrels looms as large as ever as they continue to enter the wood. We were gobsmacked when in early January, we discovered four greys in just one piece of video footage from our wildlife camera.
Take a close look at this freeze-frame below. One grey is slinking up the tree with the feeder attached whilst two are side by side skirting down a tree in the background (the fourth grey is hidden from view on the ground):
We were completely taken aback – we had thought there was just the one crafty grey squirrel knocking around. But sudden influxes do happen remarkably frequently and are really worrying. There is no doubt that our reds must be coming into contact with them either directly or indirectly as they are hanging around the same area. It only takes one grey squirrel to be a carrier of the pox virus for it to infect our reds with deadly consequences.
For this reason, we take our grey squirrel control work very seriously. It is not the least bit enjoyable but an absolute necessity in order to try our best to protect the reds from being wiped out. We can report that we have removed five grey squirrels since we saw the above footage – but we are still on high alert for more.
The Lollipop Gang
Long-tailed tits form family parties throughout the winter with youngsters following in tow of their parents as they flit through the woodland. We refer to these tiny balls of fluff with their long sticky out tails as The Lollipop Gang – a rather fitting name we think. They are just a joy to watch! The first we know of their whereabouts is when we hear a sudden burst of high-pitched chatter as they communicate amongst themselves. Next, they all burst forth into sight, touching down at the bird feeders within seconds of each other. If we stand still, they ignore us and we can watch these bundles of life at close quarters, pecking at the fat balls just a metre away from us. But they don't hang around for long – after around a minute they depart, one by one – the kids in pursuit of the adults as they seek out their next source of food.
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
T: 07525 841361 (9am - 6pm)
Please feel free to contact us today for further information!
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Our recommendations are:
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
'Increasing Productivity of Woodruff Wood Woodfuel (Firewood)'
Woodruff Wood is grateful to have received funding for equipment and infrastructure to support us in the production of firewood