THAT’S the question that Wildlife Trust Red Squirrel Officer, Becky Hulme is asking; and reports of sightings are coming in – many from the Llanfair Clydogau and Llanddwei Brefi areas.
Becky remarked: “People love seeing red squirrels in Wales; this native mammal really does make an impact with its striking russet coat and graceful movements. Many of the older generation remember seeing reds in on a regular basis; but that was back in the 1950s and early 60s before grey squirrels had really got a hold in mid Wales.”
Since the grey squirrel colonised, red squirrels have largely vanished from Wales. Until the late 1950s, the red squirrel was a common sight in mid Wales and an integral part of the Welsh landscape.
In 1958, a schoolteacher from Rhandirmwyn stated that a child had come into school with a report of a grey squirrel, one of the first in the area!
From then onwards it was downhill for the red squirrel, as the larger and more robust grey squirrel quickly moved into local woodlands, eating much of the available food and spreading squirrelpox virus, which the greys are immune to, but which is fatal to red squirrels.
A law was passed in 1938 banning further importation of grey squirrels, but the damage had been done; inadvertently heralding the demise of the red squirrel in Britain.
We now have only a little over a thousand red squirrels hanging on in Wales, in Anglesey, in the north east of the country, and here in mid Wales.
Anglesey is the real success-story in Wales; as part of a restoration project, they have cleared greys from the island and boosted the population of reds, thought to be as low as 40 individuals less than 20 years ago; Anglesey is now home to as many as 700 red squirrels.
The Mid Wales Red Squirrel Project (MWRSP) is a much younger project than its northern counterpart, but with the help of funding, originally through Environment Wales, a former Welsh Government funded initiative, work is getting underway to save the population of reds in mid Wales too.
“We know that we have a much reduced population of reds in mid Wales, but we’re keen to get a better idea of where and when red squirrels are active, so that we can help to protect them, and that’s where local people come in.” Becky explained, “It is locals, both working and living in the mid Wales red squirrel focal site that are most likely to spot red squirrels, usually as they a cross a road or open ground.”
The area centred round Llyn Brianne reservoir, bordered by Pontrhydfendigaid, Tregaron, Lampeter, Llandovery and Llanwrtyd Wells, was approved as a focal site for red squirrel conservation in 2009. Welsh Ministers agreed that urgent strategic action needed to be taken in order to conserve the population of reds in this area.
“As one of only three significant populations of red squirrels in Wales, our reds in mid Wales really do deserve some attention.” Becky explained, “we hope to restore the population by reducing the population of grey squirrels and by working with Natural Resources Wales and private forest managers to encourage appropriate forest management.”
The red squirrel project on Anglesey is an extremely successful conservation project and is direct evidence that removing grey squirrels leads to red squirrel population recovery.
However, Becky points out that this ambition can only be achieved with the support of local people: “Over the past year we’ve had over 80 people volunteer their time to help in the fight to save the red squirrel in mid Wales. Activities have ranged from help with publicity at shows and events to grey squirrel control to monitoring local red squirrel populations.”
A series of delightful photos from a trail camera located above Llanddewi Brefi show reds visiting a feeding station: “These photos really do illustrate the playful nature of these iconic mammals. It would be a real shame if we allowed our red squirrels become yet another extinction story.”
Sex offender caught trying to flee to Ireland
A sex offender from Bow Street near Aberystwyth who tried to move to Ireland without telling anyone has been jailed.
Dennis Bull, aged 67, was caught trying to drive a van onto the Fishguard–Rosslare ferry with his belongings in the back ready for a new life in the Republic.
Bull, of Nirmit, admitted failing to comply with the conditions of registration as a sex offender and was jailed for 16 months.
Dyfed Thomas, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court it was the third time he had breached the order, imposed at Caernarfon crown court in February, 2016, for possessing indecent images of children.
That conviction was on top of earlier offending in New Zealand that included indecent exposure, outraging public decency and gross indecency with a child.
Mr Thomas said Bull had been jailed for 16 months in 2016 and ordered to register with the police. The restrictions imposed included a requirement to tell the police if he intended to change address.
On November 13 last year police at Fishguard harbour became aware of a Ford Mondeo registered to Bull.
A few minutes later Bull was arrested as he attempted to drive a van onto the Stenna ferry, which was loaded with household items.
Bull told the police he had made arrangements to move to Ireland “lock, stock and barrel” because he understood the monitoring of sex offenders was less strict.
In particular, said Mr Thomas, Bull did not like prospective employers being told about his convictions.
Judge Geraint Walters told Bull, “This was a planned and determined attempt to avoid detection. It was only the eagle eyes of the authorities that brought you to book.
“Your record is troubling and you present a risk of committing more offences of a sexual nature.
“You are defiant of court orders that are there to protect others and it is truly disturbing that you are so keen to breach them.”
Bull was warned that the 2016 order remained in place for a further seven years.
Newcastle Emlyn woman to brave the shave for charity
TO MARK her 50th birthday, a Newcastle Emlyn woman will brave the shave to raise money for Diabetes UK Cymru.
On January 26, Newcastle Emlyn’s Coopers Arms will be the venue where Yvonne Lloyd’s shoulder length hair will hit the deck, as it is shaved off by hairdresser Pamela Atterbury. Mayor of Newcastle Emlyn Cefin Evans will make the first cut, in an evening that will include a buffet, raffle and live music from local band Back Tracks.
Yvonne, a waitress at Ty Croeso Delicatessen, said: “My son Tristan, now 25, developed Type 1 diabetes when he was at university. However well managed, it is a life-changing condition which you can never forget.
“He was diagnosed after an emergency admission to hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by extremely high blood sugar. It can be fatal if not treated immediately. He was in hospital for four days and now relies on four insulin injections a day.
“I’m having my head shaved, not just to raise money, but also to educate people. There are a lot of myths about diabetes and how it can affect your life.”
The hair cut will start at 8.30pm on Saturday January 26 at the Coopers Arms, Station Road, Newcastle Emlyn. Entry costs £5 and doors open at 7.00 pm. All are welcome.
You can support Yvonne by signing one of the sponsor forms at the Coopers Arms and Ty Croeso, or online at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/yvonne-lloyd2
Next stage of works to clear Cwmduad landslide
PHASE two of the works to stabilise a landslide in Cwmduad has begun following the recovery of a lorry from the river below.
Carmarthenshire County Council is leading the operation to clear the site and re-open the A484 for traffic travelling between Carmarthen and Newcastle Emlyn, following the landslide in October.
Phase one, which commenced before Christmas, created a safe zone for the recovery of a lorry that was swept in to the river during the storm.
That recovery took place earlier today (Monday, January 14, 2019).
Phase two, to permanently stabilise the embankment, involves complex drainage and geotechnical works.
The highway structure will then be assessed before any indication can be given as to when the road will re-open.
The council has thanked the community, and affected commuters, for their patience whilst site assessments and works have been underway.
Ruth Mullen, Director of Environment for Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “We are now making progress in what has been a highly complex operation and legal process between the council, partner agencies and the landowner.
“We fully appreciate the impact this has had on the community, and we wish to reiterate that we have worked without delay to undertake site investigations in the immediate aftermath of the landslide, along with clearance and construction works to make the area safe.
“We are working as quickly as we can to re-open the road as soon as possible, and would like to thank those affected most sincerely for their patience.”
Until the road is re-opened, traffic will continue to be diverted along the B4333 Carmarthen – Newcastle Emlyn.
Additional bus services remain in place:
A shuttle service currently runs from Cwmduad to Tycoch to catch the 460 service at 7.25am, 9.35am and 10.55am. Return journeys are at 2.25pm and 4.45pm.
The 460 service is currently operating on a diversion route
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