Gardens & wildlife

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

by Jan Curry from The Round Hill Reporter March 2006

Bright eyed and bushy tailed - living with grey squirrels

I first noticed a couple of squirrels in the garden, last year. Grey squirrels were scampering round Sylvan Hall when my children were young, well over thirty years ago. So it has taken them quite a while to discover the Cat Creep and explore the inviting green corridor that enhances the view at the back of Richmond Road.

Grey squirrels are deemed to be pests and yes they are inclined to dig up bulbs, raid bird tables and have been known to chew through bird boxes in an effort to eat eggs or baby birds.

hey were introduced illegally to this country from the U.S.A. in the nineteenth century and put our already ailing native red squirrels to flight. An adult grey squirrel will claim an acre as their own and keep other adult squirrels from invading their space.

So now we are stuck with them, so the simplest thing to do is to learn to live with these bright eyed, bushy tailed creatures.

Covering bulbs with dead, spiky holly leaves keep bulbs safe(ish). Providing woodcrete nest boxes or protecting the entrance hole with a purpose made metal plate keep the birds safe. (Squirrels are not meat eaters, unless they are desperately hungry.)

To keep them away from the bird table, I've purchased (I can't believe I am admitting to this) - a squirrel feeder. This is a perspex box with a lid, filled with peanuts still in their husks.

Initially it takes squirrels eight minutes to learn how to lift the lid. Then they carefully nibble through the husks, daintily eat the nut and fastidiously wash their whiskers.

Then satisfied they scuttle up the tree trunk, fly through the air with ease, landing on the thinnest of branches, only to launch themselves again into space, using their tail as a parachute.

They are oblivious to cars screeching, helicopters buzzing, sirens wailing - all the usual city noises. Watching their antics, I'm oblivious too. Lucky? I should say so.
This page was last updated by Ted on 09-Nov-2013
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