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Squirrel relocation to a Sutherland wood

By Caroline McMorran

Managers of a Sutherland woodland are going nuts to welcome some very special new residents.

Twenty red squirrels were due to be delivered this week to their new home at Ledmore and Migdale Woods, near Spinningdale.

And in advance three willow squirrel structures have been erected on a trail through the woods.

The new arrivals are part of a £22,000 Reds Return programme run by Trees for Life.

The environmental group are keen to release squirrels in areas where they are safe from competition and disease from grey squirrels.

The squirrels bound for Ledmore have been taken at a rate of two per 200 hectares from woods across South Highland and Moray and given a stringent health check.

They are being transported to Sutherland in special hay-lined nest boxes and on arrival will be distributed in clusters in Midgale Rock SSSI. It is hoped that in time they will colonise surrounding woods.

The Woodland Trust, which manages Ledmore and Migdale Woods, have already recruited a dozen volunteers to help look after the squirrels.

Meanwhile the three willow squirrel sculptures, measuring between one and two metres, have been erected along the yellow waymarked trail from Torroy croft to Loch Midgale.

Funded by support from the Postcode Lottery, the sculptures were made by North Yorkshire company Dragon Willow.

Ledmore and Migdale site manager Ross Watson said: “New information panels have also been installed and clear waymarking to direct people to the centre of the translocation area.”

A handcrafted bench made by Ardgay craftsman Bill Ross from a single oak tree and featuring a red squirrel and Celtic design has also been installed.

A ranger will be on site over the next three weekends to welcome people to the area and explain where and how to see squirrels.

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