Well, it’s been a complete bonanza of Hazelnuts this autumn. In addition to the native Hazel there are also lots of planted Cobnut trees around the Hollins Hill golf course which will now be about 20 years old.

Ripening Cob (Hazel) nut

Until this year I had never seen a brown Hazel or Cobnut on a tree in the valley. But something has happened: this autumn they are everywhere. Last year was quite good. This year has been a bonanza.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the maturing of the trees.

The more intriguing possibility is that something has happened to reduce Grey Squirrel numbers. There are still plenty of them obviously…..on every camera trap I’ve set! But perhaps they’re not so completely ubiquitous.

If populations of Pine Martens can mysteriously appear in the New Forest and Cornwall; miles from anywhere they were supposed to be….

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/17/pine-martens-recorded-in-west-country-by-night-vision-camera

Then it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch that we could be within dispersal range of the breeding population in Shropshire (about 150 miles away):

https://www.shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/pinemartenproject

Or of those in the North York Moors (only 50 miles away):

Indeed, there is a single record from Derbyshire in 2018:

https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/news/rare-pine-marten-discovered-derbyshire

And a handful from Lancashire too:

Individual North American martens may disperse up to 190Km and similar long distance movements probably occur in Europe:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10592-015-0765-6

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276916249_False_heat_big_testes_and_the_onset_of_natal_dispersal_in_European_pine_Martens_Martes_martes

I shall be doing more camera traps this winter!

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