Nutter for nuts

The sight furry, four-legged fluffy-tailed object, fling himself through 9ft of fresh air was followed immediately by an almighty crash as splintered plastic dome plunged at speed to the ground. Even more surprised than me, the culprit quickly brushed himself off and looked over at the house in a panic to see if he was in trouble, then scampered up the fence and into the mulberry for safety. But I knew that he knew that I knew he'd foiled my latest plan, and I admired him (or her).

This was the denouement to days of cunning adjustment and trial and error, on both our parts. We'd had the ailanthus pollarded (for reasons I won't go into now) so all the bird feeders on their 5ft wires were homeless. My only fall back option was a gifted shop-bought pole and bracket feeder stand. I wedged it into a patio umbrella stand on the former lawn. From its four hooks I hung a peanut feeder, a niger seed dispenser, a fat block cage and a mealworm feeder stocked with a simple and popular no-grow mixture of sunflower hearts and peanut nibs.

As we all know from experience, that our visiting squirrels, all 4 or is it 5 of them, are persistent and measured when it comes to foraging. And I knew finding the squirrel-safe sweet spot for my feeding station would take a couple of goes to get right. Clearly they could shimmy up the pole unhindered and lean out to fill their faces from the fatty delights on offer. So I inserted the pole into a purpose-built plastic dome up to its middle and secured with a wingnut, but without a suitable flange to support it properly it wobbled in the wind. Nevertheless it got quizzical looks from the squirrels who made it up the pole to this cloudy force-field, like a child with its face pressed to the window of a closed sweetshop. So far so good.

I have a hunch that squirrels are a little spiteful. If you foil their feeding plans somehow they conjure some act to annoy you. It might be emptying the contents of a pot of scilla bulbs onto the patio or brazenly nibbling tulip buds when they know they're being watched. The white-bellied devils!

xxxxxx before I could send him to his room with no supper.

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