The history of our garden has been peppered with battles with squirrels… Way back when I used to try to grow spring bulbs in window boxes on the balcony outside the kitchen they constantly dug them up. (One year I ended up with rolls of barbed wire balanced on top of the boxes to try – unsuccessfully – to keep them out). When we first put our green roof on the summer house, they immediately tried to dig it up. I had to cover the whole thing with chicken wire through which the saxifrage could grow while the squirrels just got their claws caught in the chicken wire.
This year the battle ground has moved…. Following my success with the bird feeders hanging on the acer last year, I essayed a more daring bird feeder on the balcony outside the kitchen window. I made a very small table which I perched on the top of a long, shiny chromium pole and positioned a bird feeder on the top. Success! Tits and robins came to visit – but – so did the pigeons…. The table was very nearly, but not quite, too small for them and with a good deal of flapping and scrabbling they managed to hang on long enough to get several good mouthfuls. I was not having that – so I installed some anti-pigeon spikes! (You can see them in the picture below.) A few of the more acrobatic pigeons kept trying but the word soon got round that if you just stationed yourself on the balcony below you could pick up the seeds that the small birds knocked out without risking getting a spike up your bum!
And then the rose and the jasmine started to grow up the pole… A sharp eyed squirrel saw his chance. Run up the rose branch, grab hold of some of that jasmine and….
Well, entertaining though this mountaineering venture may have been, the cost of keeping enough seeds in the feeder to provide for both squirrels and birds rapidly started to escalate into Euro-bailout figures – so the rose and the jasmine had to go. As though that would make any difference…
Instead of just leaping off the bird table into the ivy on the right hand side when they had done (or when I caught them at it) the little monkeys just took a flying leap from the ivy onto the bird table, threatening to bring the whole, relatively delicate edifice crashing to the ground! Enough, already….
I moved the pole one upright along the balcony – not far enough into the open to make the birds anxious but just too far for the squirrels to jump with a reasonable hope of making it – and, a nice touch I felt, I greased the pole…..
Two days later, my efforts were rewarded (although sadly I did not have a camera to hand) as a squirrel made a brave effort to shin up the pole from the balcony rail – but kept sliding inelegantly down!!!
A victory won….. but, experience has taught me, not the war…..