Red Squirrel conservation in Cumbria
MICK GARVEY - INFIRAY BRAND AMBASSADOR
Up the Reds
My red squirrel conservation work takes place around the Penrith area in Cumbria and close to many of the lakes, some of the estates cover 1000’s of acres but I also work in a few small holdings where greys have been reported and require some urgent “attention” as requested by the owner.
The conservation work takes place every day of every week of every month of every year, obviously not just by myself but by my fellow red squirrel rangers too.
Weather in the Lake District is a bit of a lottery … the saying is “if you want to know the weather look out the window” Cumbria has one of the wettest areas in the UK after all the lakes don’t appear by magic. Luckily the weather had been nice for a few days and looked like carrying on being so. The day itself was a beautiful sunny one but the temperature didn’t get above 10 degrees … perfect for thermal imaging though.
Into the hills
Most of my land, as you would expect, is based around the fells and hills with very few flatland areas. Several of my woodlands can be treacherous with steep bankings and as Bon Jovi said “slippery when wet” and I have fallen foul of these conditions a few times … managing to slide the whole way down one particular bank but keeping the gun and hardware safe. With plenty of walking required I’ll rack up 12,500 steps by lunchtime easily … great way to keep fit and the heart beating nicely.
The day started around 5am as always … woken by the sunlight crashing through the bedroom blinds and reflecting back to me through the mirrored wardrobe. A stiff coffee and a boiled egg on toast garnished with a slivering of marmite sets me up for the start and the 10 mile drive to the 1st estate is started, once the equipment is loaded into the truck.
Current products are the TD50L Tube day/night scope and the FH35R Finder thermal spotter, other equipment ranges from the 17hmr & the 22LR rimfire rifles or one of the air fac rifles such as the .30cal Maverick, .25cal Impact, .22cal Wildcat or the Air Arms S510 Tac.
I have used InfiRay gear long before becoming an ambassador and I have found it to always work faultlessly in all conditions … especially impressive is the ability to cut through fog, mist, rain and humidity all down the the superb sensors used by InfiRay the day in question was no different and even if the heat becomes too high then swapping between the various colour palettes on the thermal helps no end and changing between day and night on the night vision also works well to combat the changing conditions.
Zeroing the TD50L was a piece of cake and the image through the viewfinder on the FH35R was outstanding, but the most impressive part of the gear was how the Finder pinpoints incoming skinnies from way way out giving you the time to prepare for the shot without giving your position away.
I have used and reviewed many different thermal and night vision units and without doubt the InfiRay is head and shoulders above the rest.
As yet I have not encountered any issues while using the units but there is a problem when downloading videos from the app to my phone but I believe this is going to be resolved with a firmware update.
Any day carrying out red squirrel conservation is a good day, numbers of greys can vary and I have had days when 30 greys have been taken but that was in an area where there were no reds. One grey is too many and a successful day is often one that has me sat out for hours waiting for a grey to show, the grey may be sharing a feeder with a red so the importance of “getting” this grey is of paramount importance. Another successful day would be having to stalk a grey through the woods. Field craft and a good knowledge of the escape routes for the greys is a must on these days. The day in question resulted in successfully removing 6 grey squirrels but as an end to the day I was privileged to watch several reds feeding and at play in an area where there were none prior to me starting the work … doesn’t get better than that.
The RSC is continuous throughout the year and one can never become complacent and take your foot off the gas … I would liken it to “Groundhog Day"