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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Camera survey of a local spruce plantation.

Norway Spruce plantation

Norway Spruce canopy
I was recently asked to carry out a survey for Red Squirrels and their dreys (nests) in a local plantation of dense Norway Spruce.

This is an area which normally shows a fairly high incidence of squirrel feeding during the late summer and autumn but the most recent signs I found were at least a month old and mostly green cone feeding from summer and early autumn.

This year has been extremely wet in this area and coupled with an almost non existent hazel crop, it's possible that mortality may be higher than normal.

I've looked, many times for dreys in this plantation and so far had not seen any. This occasion was no exception and as you can see from the images on the left, the tree density makes it an almost impossible task.

I used trail cameras in several places in the hope that one of them might catch a squirrel. In one part of the plantation where the most recent feeding signs were found I also discovered a group of fungi, which some animal had been feeding on. In the hope of finding out what, I set two of the cameras at different angles over these.

The other cameras I set nearby for several days but still no squirrels.

When I returned to collect the cameras I saw      where badgers had been turning the ground for earthworms and as you can see in the video composite below, the area was visited by a fox, two badgers and a Pine Marten in a hurry.

The light in the marten shot is the second camera firing. Both cameras are 'black flash' so this is just what the camera can see.

There are also two images of Red Squirrel dreys shown below for reference. These are both about 10 metres of the ground. They are not always this visible.

Red Squirrel drey in Scots Pine

Red Squirrel drey in Norway Spruce
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This web site is about the wildlife, particularly the mammals, of the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve area in the north west Highlands of Scotland, UK; and the equipment I use to search for them, which is chiefly trail cameras.

I provide a technical support and parts service for the Ltl Acorn range of cameras and the income from this provides for the upkeep of this site and the purchase of cameras for my own surveying.

I hope you find the site useful and informative; and please contact me if you have any questions that I haven't already covered.