To increase the small population of red squirrels found on the Blair Drummond estate and encourage their dispersal. Continue to monitor squirrels along with the national database and control grey squirrels.
The 2015 Project
Build and install nesting boxes and establish and maintain feeding stations. Monitor and record sightings using camera traps and sticky tabs.
This conservation initiative is geared towards helping increase a small population of red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, at Blair Drummond Safari Park. Students from McLaren High School, as part of the Curriculum for Excellence Challenge, were invited to construct specially designed nesting boxes and feeding stations. The students then travelled to the safari park to see their boxes being installed with the kind help of David Whyte, of professionaltreeclimbing.co.uk. It is everyone's hope that the squirrel population will triple this year and start to disperse from their current location.
Having built the nesting boxes the students watched them being installed.
Dave Whyte camments: "Red squirrels are one of the most iconic and much loved species of locals and tourists when they visit Scotland's national parks - they need our help and protection. If we did nothing, it is likely that reds would suffer a similar fate to their English counterparts. Grey squirrels are more successful at competing against reds for food and territory and they also carry 'squirrel pox', a virus fatal to reds yet tolerated by the greys. It's a great project, the kids have worked really hard and I'm delighted to lend a hand so that the kids can see their boxes being safely installed".
Niall Williamson added: "The Curriculum For Excellence Challenge is one aspect of the junior years curriculum that McLaren High School is proud of. It delivers several aspects of the curriculum to the current S1 cohort looking at things as varied as health and fitness to emergency response training to outdoor learning and conservation. We are currently undertaking the John Muir Bronze award looking at applied environmental conservation in our local area, and when this opportunity arose to be part of an active and practical conservation initiative, we leapt at the chance to be a part of it".
It is hoped that visitors and residents close to the safari park will be able to enjoy the efforts of the students and watch red squirrels scurrying about in the grounds. So far, the signs are very encouraging: the red squirrels are becoming more confident and are using the feeders frequently.
Where your money goes
Blair Drummond, Stirling
I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to do field work conserving the Red squirrel. It would be criminal not to help increase numbers and the dispersal of the population that lives on the estate. It's encouraging to see the progress we've made and to safeguard and expand the range of our red squirrels.