|Who needs alpine meadows when there is this kind of a show near to home?|
At the end of May the plat was looking particularly flowery with buttercups, vetch, lesser stitchwort and speedwell carpeting the ground.
June 10th was Open Farm Sunday at Mote Farm. Tractor-loads of children trundled around the fields and farm machinery of all descriptions, old and new, was on display.
|A jaunt around the farm|
|Serious discussion and an old friend|
the Manor Farm, Oldbury stand and apple and pear juice courtesy of Robert Mitchell and his team. My thanks to the friends and volunteers who helped out and took a turn on the stall.
In my last blog I posted a photo of this delightful creature, taken by Pam Hardeman of the North West Red Squirrel Group in Northern Ireland. Later in June I decided to take a trip across the water and visit some of my customers there.
My trip took in Tyrone and Fermanagh to visit relatives, both having small populations of reds whilst trying their best to keep out the greys. While I didn't get as far as Derry to visit Pam's group I did get to see a flourishing colony in county Down. Mount Stewart must be the 'Jewel in the Crown' of the National Trust in Northern Ireland: a magnificent house and estate, situated on the peninsular between Strangford Lough and the sea.That location makes it easier to control the grey squirrels, allowing the reds to flourish.
|On the shores of Strangford Lough, the Mountains of Mourne in the distance|
|Magnificent Mount Stewart|
|Picture-postcard lake with woodland beyond|
Toby Edwards, the head ranger brims over with enthusiasm for the little creatures which have made their home in the forested part of the estate. He and his team have built a hide from which visitors, if they come at the right time of day, can watch the squirrels feeding from several boxes placed among the trees and fallen branches.
|It's hard to catch them on camera!|
|Maybe you can see the tail?|
The little creatures tip up the lid and dive inside to feed on the mix of maize and peanuts and our own Kentish cobnuts. I was interested to know why our cobnuts are so good for them and learned it is because the squirrels' teeth never stop growing, so gnawing through the hard shells of the cobnuts is exactly what is needed to keep them in good shape. You can read more about the red squirrels of Mount Stewart here: Toby's red squirrels : (click on the link and then scroll down to 'Wildlife' and choose Squirrels).
My final squirrel stop was Belfast Zoo where I hoped to meet Michael Corscadden, the Head of Stores and a customer for Kentish cobnuts.
|The correct entrance for business visitors.|
|Michael and one of his team took me up to visit the breeding programme|
Belfast Zoo has a breeding programme for red squirrels. They are keen to educate the public as to why the reds are endangered and how it is that the greys pose such a threat.