Taking A look
at The National Trust at Victoria Road in Freshfield.
Welcome to my first report from one of our regions nature reserves.
In the coming reports I shall be visiting some of our best loved wild places, but to begin with I chose to visit The National Trust at Victoria Road in Freshfield, Formby.
I love visiting the beach and the pinewoods along our coast at this time of year, there is a tranquility here that makes it very special and very welcome in
today's busy hustle and bustle of town life. The coastline is the nearest to truly wild places that we have left in England. To walk along the sands with no other people in sight, and only the sound of the waves, the seabirds, and the wind gives you a rare sense of untamed, natural beauty.
Reaching the beach marker post at Freshfield, I followed the track over the dunes and along to the pinewoods. The mostly Scots Pine plantation is home to a thriving colony of Red Squirrels, and on my visit I found there was a lot of activity, with Squirrels running and jumping through the trees and scampering along the ground searching for
buried food. During the winter, the pinewoods can be very peaceful and sheltered from the sometimes harsh winds, and yet I saw few people on my way through the woods. I wonder how many people still do not visit the pinewoods because they think that the Squirrels are hibernating? In fact the only British mammal to truly hibernate is the rare Dormouse! On my walk through the woods in early January, I saw more Red Squirrels than people!
The National Trust have recently opened a new Countryside Work
base on Blundell Avenue, and here I met Property Manager Andrew
Brockbank. After a brief tour of the new facility, I was invited for a chat with Andrew in his new office. He began by telling me how pleased the National Trust staff at Freshfield are with the new building, which includes a workshop as well as facilities for staff and volunteers and office space. Mr. Brockbank explained that this will give a new focus for operations and more scope for staff to carry out effective management of the site.
I commented upon the Squirrel activity I saw on my way through the pinewoods and asked how the population was faring.
"A very good question ... in fact the Population Survey is due to be carried out again in
March of 2002." Mr. Brockbank replied.
"This will give a better idea of just how the Red Squirrel is doing on the Sefton Coast". He explained that with restrictions along the coast in 2001 due to the precautions in place for the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak across the country, it is all the more important to get out there and get a good count of the Squirrels in 2002."
This year the members of the Sefton Coast Partnership
(that is The Sefton Council Coast and Countryside Service, English Nature and The National Trust) together with Red Alert are hoping that volunteers may be able to help with the 2002 Red Squirrel population survey.
Volunteers may be people who walk in the pinewoods regularly, or those with an interest in British mammals or whatever ... Surveys need to be carried out three times in March and again in September, early in the morning. Surveyors need to be able to judge distance well, to give good recordings. Anyone interested should contact the following address and telephone number for more details...
Mr. Andrew Brockbank,
The National Trust,
Telephone 01704 878591.
You could also contact the Coast and Countryside Service or English Nature for information on volunteering for the survey along their properties.
I hope to be visiting these agencies in the coming weeks so will give more detailed contact information then...