Earlier in the year I wrote about the extraordinary May blossom on the hawthorn brought on by the hot spring weather. That seems a long time ago now, but all those flowers have produced a bumper autumn crop of berries, some of which are still on the hawthorn trees and shrubs. Earlier there were plenty of hazel nuts and now there are quantities of berries on the Holly as well. Of course this is no indication of the likely weather ahead, just a reflection of the conditions last spring. This will help many of our bird species through the winter but there is far more food than their numbers can cope with, so small mammals and rodents are also doing well. There are lots of young grey squirrels still climbing around, and these are likely to be a problem in Stara Woods early next spring when they rip the bark off young trees to lick the sap. This behaviour is restricted to grey squirrels only and leads to habitat damage and significant loss of future timber potential.

Photo of a red squirrel in Scotland – much more distinctive ears as well as colour.
Photo of a red squirrel in Scotland – much more distinctive ears as well as colour.

Red squirrels have been extinct in Cornwall since 1984 but moves to reintroduce them have been gathering momentum in recent years. Red Squirrel South West have been trying to create areas where grey squirrels are in sufficiently low numbers to be able to reintroduce reds. https://redsquirrelsouthwest.org.uk/ Attempts to remove grey squirrels from the Lizard peninsular have proved difficult but a new co-ordinated group hopes to be more successful using more efficient traps. It is much easier to motivate people to shoot or catch grey squirrels (a pretty grim task) knowing that they are making room for red squirrels to come back, but we need to first establish a viable population in the Lizard before extending the project to the rest of Cornwall.