Did I mention that we’ve had trouble with squirrels?
Things have not improved. They’ve had ALL the blueberries now: returning daily, checking for ripeness and then pinching each one just as it reaches its prime. In the seasonal lull between these and the autumn raspberries the squirrels have returned to the bird table. Two whole fat balls vanished overnight and all of the birdseed. The peanut feeder provides a more significant challenge but even so, the wire mesh doesn’t hold them back for long. We’ve rebuilt the damn thing three times already and still those critters gnaw away.
Mike has resorted to weaponry. Both the front and back doorways have sprouted a little pile of stones for hurling at the squirrels. Not directly at them, just near enough to try and frighten them away. It worked for a while. I tried a jug of water which proved satisfyingly effective and led me to ponder, in a casual sort of way, the possibility of a water pistol. Mike’s eyes lit up. With one word, “Google”, he disappeared from view. I had envisaged something similar to the toy I used to squirt my cousins with as a kid, a sort of small plastic hand water pistol. But no, apparently you really can buy a full sized mock up of a Kalashnikov AK47… and nothing else would do.
I was tempted. The photographs would have been funny. The trouble is, we do get our fair share of low flying military aircraft in the valley. I’ve no reason to think they watch over us with their high resolution cameras or whatever. But, in these hypersensitive times, should someone happen to look down, the sight of a man crashing through the woods with what would appear to be a full size terrorist assault rifle might be misconstrued.
In the end a compromise was found. We now have a water pistol that would look just the job on a Star Wars stormtrooper. It is battery powered and, allegedly, has a range of 27 feet. I have to confess, I am hooked. My study is almost perfectly located for a sniper with designs on the bird table. So, here I sit, window open. Beside me, the fully charged Empire weapon of choice. A tell-tale soft thud as the squirrel lands on the bird table and I can get it squarely on the back of the head. It hurtles off and dives into a nearby yew.
Mike’s preferred approach, predictably, is to find a spot from which he can ambush the squirrel and chase it up the nearest tree.
Either way, they will be back. It has become a challenge. The grey squirrel is by no means stupid. And the worst thing is, they show every sign of enjoying it. Ours are the sort of squirrels which will find a branch 27.5 feet up and sit there eating their ill-gotten gains, slowly and infuriatingly.