Thursday, 4 February 2010

May contain nuts

I know some people call them tree rats and they invade lofts and do damage etc, but I really like squirrels - even grey ones. My next door neighbour has a large leylandii tree which houses a whole colony of squirrels, so I am fortunate enough to see them on an almost daily basis. I particularly love to watch them chasing each other through the branches of the trees. The speed and acrobatics are amazing. My eldest son relates one occasion when the patio door was wide open and a pair of squirrels chased in through the door, round the room and out again, all at breakneck speed.
I must admit to having lost at least two bird feeders to gnawing squirrels, but the ones I have now are veritable fortresses and they seem to be standing up very well. To compensate for this lack of generosity, I keep a bag of peanuts just inside my patio door and tip out a small pile most days. Two autumns ago, I had a particularly cheeky character who would virtually push his nose up against the glass, giving me a less than subtle hint that he wanted feeding. The present bunch are slightly more wary, but still come to check the 'peanut area' frequently.
Once the nuts are discovered, it is not unusual to have a queue of squirrels waiting to help themselves. There is a definite pecking order - or maybe I should call it a 'grab and go' order. The 'top-dog' squirrel will be there first, while numbers two and three wait; one on the garage roof and the other on the fence. Once Top-Dog has stuffed as many nuts into his mouth as is physically possible, he will bound off to dig yet another hole somewhere nearby and bury them. Chance for number two to move in and do likewise. Number three now has to be very quick, because if he lingers, Top-Dog will be back for the next load. Crossovers do happen from time to time and always result in the lesser squirrel having to execute an emergency exit; claws scrabbling, fur standing on end - which, from my point of view is very entertaining, but maybe not from his!

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