A count of the amount of squirrels that we have in the park was done in early December. They are easy to spot and count at this time of year as there is no leaf cover for them to hid in. They do tend to migrate in and out of the park from Rickerby village and Retreat area into the park and also from the University of Cumbria campus and the Glebelands going into the trees lining Brampton Road.
On a sunny day a count of 17 grey squirrels were in the park but also since the count two have been killed on the road. At the end of February another count will be done.
This amount of squirrels will also impact on nesting birds. Squirrels are quite partial to eggs and young chicks so we will have to monitor this to see the amount of degradation taking place especially in the bird boxes along Brampton Road which were put up last year.
This year in January we had a large flock of Fieldfares roosting in the trees in the park near the football field, they certainly are a noisy bird also in the park have been seen small flocks of longtailed tits. It brings a smile and is entertaining to watch these little acrobatic birds going through the trees searching for food.
In the bird boxes put up we had two successful clutches of Bluetits and one that was aborted not sure why but then there are many predators around including a sparrow hawk who is seen occasionally.
Also there were a pair of feral pidgeons nesting in a hole in a tree it is surprising what you can see in the park if you just take your time and look.
Early in January it was noticed that the large pond in the Chinese gardens was leaking and that we had lost quite a bit of water leaving roughly 3 to 4 inches. The odd fish that were in the pond were taken out by Nils and put in his pond for safe keeping. As long as the water stays at 3 inches then hopefully the invertebrates, common newts and frogs etc will be safe. The open spaces team have been informed and are looking into the problem.
Our January Make a Difference Day was bitterly cold and freezing rain so it was a quick litter pick and a general tidy up followed by the obligatory piping hot tea and coffee break then home to a warm abode.
Towards the end of the month snowdrops have been appearing in two areas of the park it is so nice to see a sign that spring is just round the corner.