Monday, 10 December 2007

Decision made

Since posting on my visiting squirrel I have given great thought as to whether I should encourage these visits or not. So far most replies I received from the gardening message board gave tips on what to do to get rid of them like sprinkling chilli pepper around the area. I had no positive comments at all from there or on my original post . However, it was the comments about squirrels eating bulbs that finally did it.

I am a gardener first and I am happy to share my garden with visiting wildlife. This autumn I have probably planted the most bulbs in one year since I began gardening. I have recently been picking up spring bulbs in garden Centres at half price and still have a number to plant yet! I have bought more Alliums which I am thrilled about. I am planting the bulbs in pots which I will bury in the garden to protect them from being dug up by me and this has taken some time. Therefore, why should I protect the bulbs from me but allow squirrels to eat or damage them?

I put out peanuts in a dish and on the ground for the hedgehogs – in particular the juveniles. I will continue to do this but only in the evening and then early morning the blackbirds will get what’s left. So, as the picture above suggests the final contest came down to the Squirrel versus the Bulbs and the Bulbs one hands down! The photo below shows the squirrel feeder I bought which will now be returned to the shop – decision made!


Finally, I have to add that I have been putting peanuts at the entrance to the hedgehog house I built in another area of my garden. The peanuts are now being eaten and this area looks like it has had some traffic as the leaves have been flattened. My video camera is out at the moment to see if it can record any activity - perhaps it is the squirrel who has found them or I wonder if we have a resident in our hedgehog house! It's a pity my camera is outside as at the moment I can see the wren at my pond edge! Mmm I am tempted to move my camera.

11 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Shirl I don't think you will be disappointed in your decision to not encourage the squirrels. They can be destructive to other things as well as bulbs. A squirrel here chewed up the cord to the water feature pump and the electrical cord that ran it one year. I am surprised it didn't get electricuted. Besides once squirrels find out that your garden has food they will return no matter what.

Our neighbor built a house for them to nest in thinking it was quite fun to watch them raise their young. It is fun. The little squirrels tip the cute scale but they started chewing on their house siding etc. They took down the nest box to discourage them but we have plenty of squirrels in the neighborhood.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I guess this would be one of the very few benefits of not having mature tress in the neighborhood- no squirrels, no, not a single one.

My parents have three HUGE oak trees and squirrels galore, I'll be content to enjoy them from a distance. I had them at my Alabama home too, and while they were cute, I would get so aggravated with the mess they made at my feeders.

Jane said...

Ok, I'm going to come down on the side of the wildlife! Although I rant and rave about the squirrels eating all the birdfeed, and they spend half their time burying nuts in the garden, on the whole I would rather have them, than not. In the summer I hardly see them at all. However, this week my husband and I spent 15 minutes in fits of laughter watching one launch himself from a nearby tree onto one of our feeders (it has a squirrel proofer on the pole, so the only way he can get to it is from above) This poor little creature tried again and again, jumping at least 8 ft with all legs outstretched. He made it in the end, and then we ruined it by going out and shooing him away. He looked very cheesed off! I'm thinking of building a squirrel assort course...so that they can work for their food. I'm never going to get rid of the squirrels in my garden, so I may as well enjoy them! Jane PS Badgers and Foxes eat bulbs as well.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Shirl, squirrels don't eat alliums, so you don't need to worry about them. The squirrels don't like the oniony taste. They will eat crocus & tulip bulbs, however. (They are particularly fond of crocus.) Some people plant their crocuses in buried wire cages. The crocus sprouts through the wire but the squirrels can't get at the bulbs. I haven't gone that far. I just covered the ground with chicken wire the 1st year I planted the crocuses. I've still got a fair number of crocuses left after about 10 years.

Layanee at 'Ledge and Gardens' said...

Shirl: I love your squirrel pictures! As a gardener, they can be pesky and as a bird watcher they can eat all the seeds! That said, how about just getting a dog. That way you can watch them but keep them at bay!

shirl said...

Hi again, Lisa and Robin :-)

Lisa – Yes, I am happy with my decision. Since posting I had heard they could be destructive – but I never thought of electric cables! Argh what a thought to discover an electrocuted squirrel in your pond! Yes, I understood that once they found food in my garden - they would be back! I have to assume it was the peanuts that attracted it. I haven’t put out any during the day since and I’ve only seen it pass through twice since. My biggest concern was that it would bring others and then they could bring young and … I cannot deny it was nice to see and entertaining to watch - but I also have neighbours :-D

Robin – Yes, I have to make the connection of mature trees and squirrels too. Behind the garden that backs on to my back garden and over the street there are some absolutely huge trees which I am sure are also the home to crows, jackdaws and woodpigeons as I can see them fly to and fro. Fortunately I had no mess at my feeders but I can imagine how frustrating that would be! I won’t mind if they pass through my garden very occasionally but I’d really rather not have regular visits :-D

shirl said...

Hi again, Jane :-)

Thank-you for giving the squirrels someone in their corner! I have to be honest and say that I am surprised that you have been the only one. Although I know if it had been a red squirrel the story would have been quite different.

I cannot deny as your story shows the squirrel could be an extremely entertaining visitor to the garden. Fortunately I have quite a lot of entertainment already without switching to another channel :-D

The bulbs – yes I was under no illusion that the squirrels would be the only ones eating them. Mice too I am sure will have a nibble or too and we do see the occasional field mouse at the stones around my pond although I have seen a cat watch that area intently late at night!

As for badgers I really doubt we will ever see any in my garden but a fox has been seen a couple of times walking up our street but it always turns around outside my front garden and walks back down the street again! Mmm should I feel shunned?

BTW if you do build an assault course for your visiting squirrels please do post photos. Naturally, I would love to see some action shots on video too!

shirl said...

Hi again, Mr McGregor’s Daughter and Layanee :-)

Mr McGregor’s Daughter – Thanks, I didn’t know that squirrels don’t eat alliums. Yes, I suppose they would have an oniony taste. Good to hear that you have found a way to successfully protect your crocus bulbs! Most of my crocuses are planted in my lawn so I guess they will be okay there but funnily enough the others in borders have slowly decreased in numbers! Yes, I am trying plastic pond plant baskets and individual pots this year. Fortunately I started this with the tulips I planted in September – that was lucky! Again, I was actually protecting the bulbs from me and at the time I had no idea at all that I wasn’t to be their only threat :-D

Layanee – lol sorry a dog would not be an option for me :-D Thanks, I was pleased that I captured the squirrel in photos and film as it really has only been seen in my garden at the most six times in the last sixteen years! Yes, the balance of garden is indeed a tricky but perhaps a personal one for us all. That’s why its great to be able to hear and see what goes on in other gardens especially in garden blogs :-D

Anonymous said...

I came across your site by accident today, but have been fascinated to read the different comments about squirrels. I've always been encouraging to wildlife in my gardens too, but never had squirrels until we moved to this present house which has a wood at the end of the road, only a few houses down from me.

I was told they used to come through these gardens anyway but once I started feeding the birds they came even more and I was foolish enough to put up a squirrel feeder a number of years ago to keep them away from the bird food, and to keep it replenished at least once a day. As anyone who has done that will tell you, all it succeeded in doing was encouraging more squirrels - and the silly things would all insist on coming at the same time to feed from it. You can imagine it was like a massed canteen full of teenagers who could only be fed one at a time! This caused mayhem since the top squirrel who got there first would be challenged by at least numbers two and three on the social scale and led to some bad and very noisy fights (sometimes early in the morning) and the more timid ones further down the rankings would still hang around the various bird feeders and eat all their food and stop the birds from getting any - and the ones who weren't eating at present often spent the time in my garden between feeds mating and thus trying hard to increase their numbers since they must have thought they never had it so good.

Eventually after polite mutterings from neighbours (all except one were very nice about it, and that one just doesn't like any wildlife or children whatsoever) and after even I became exasperated by them I stopped feeding them entirely from their own box and removed it. They had been so used to coming though that it took a while for them to get the message, but eventually the numbers trickled to the odd one or two a day. Now what I do when I see them is put out a very small amount of peanuts and sunflower seeds in a saucer just enough for him/her and that works just fine, and any time they attack the bird feeder I bring it in temporarily and the squirrel leaves in minutes when I can put it out again.

By the way, one of the benefits of once having had so many come regularly was that I saw at close quarters the differences in the greys (since we don't have reds in this part of Scotland) and could distinguish individuals in the population and I saw also both an albino and a black one up close. There was also one cute one who, if the feeder was empty, would come knocking on the bedroom window to waken me and let me know she wanted food - and that one still comes thankfully and still is friendly. Everyone is now happy, including me, for I like squirrels. Good luck with keeping yours, but keeping it under control.
Bella

chuck b. said...

Some creature--a racoon, maybe, or a possum--is digging up my fall bulbs, one at a time. Every morning I go down to the garden, and there's a new divot in the ground where I planted a bulb. I'm starting to worry they're won't be any bulbs at my place this spring.

shirl said...

Hi again, Chuck b :-)

Oh dear, sorry to hear that! The main culprit digging up my bulbs over the years as been yours truly!

I have found the bulbs I have planted in gravel have survived fairly well but the best ones of all have been the ones I planted in my lawn! I planted the bulbs then threw grass seed on top of them. I planted over 300 bulbs and now I cut the grass around them. Six weeks after they have finished flowering I just take the lawnmower over them (usually end of June) and I am able to have this end of my lawn back again :-D

I hope you have some bulbs left for the spring :-)