Last Saturday provided me with the kind of amusement some might consider along the lines of watching paint dry. I spent the afternoon squirrel watching.
As you know, if you've read this space, I moved the Halloween pumpkins to the deck. This was to make the disposal in the compost pile not such a long walk. It took the squirrels 10 days to decide these pumpkins were ripe for eating.
On Friday, November 9th, they had eaten into one of the pumpkins.
I moved the other one, which is off the the left, over by this one, mainly so, when I sat at the computer watching the box score on the football game, I could see if any squirrel would go after it. Where it was previously, was under the deck chair and I couldn't see it.
I also tossed a few peanuts across the deck and onto the deck railings. It was a very nice day so the office window was open to let the warm wind blow through the house.
It didn't take long for a visitor to arrive.
After he and a couple of gray squirrels cleaned off the deck of peanuts, he decided to check out the pumpkin. By now, it had started to rain, a fairly heavy rain at that.
There was one gray squirrel I think I recognized. This guy had a notch at the end of his tail. I think I've seen him around here before. He would jump onto the deck, climb the railing, snatch a peanut and launch himself onto the air conditioner to the left. He nibbled just enough to crack the shell and then he'd leave to bury this.
Until I had to close the window due to the rain, we heard the sounds of squirrels "yelling" at each other and the scrabble of them chasing each other away from the clumps of peanuts. The girls took turns sitting in the window, watching.
Once the rain came in earnest, a red squirrel who didn't look like he'd missed a meal in his lifetime, decided to work on the other pumpkin.
I have to say that, love them or hate them, it was absolutely fascinating to watch this guy. Occasionally, he noticed I was watching, so he'd stop, crawl on top of the pumpkin and "yell" at me. You know that noise; a kind of high-pitched screech.
Eventually, he realized that, no matter where I was, in the office watching...
or at the back door ...
I wasn't going to come shoo him away from the prize. So, he stepped up his gnawing. In roughly 10 minutes, he was almost at the core.
In the time it took me to walk from the back door to the office, he was through the final millimeters and into the center where the seeds were.
It took him another couple of minutes to enlarge the hole just enough to get inside.
Another 15 minutes and the interior had been cleaned of all the seeds he wanted. He hasn't been back to see if there's anything he missed so this weekend, the shells and the debris go into the compost pile.
This was one of the most interesting things I've seen. The shells on these pumpkins, unlike the first ones I got, were rather substantial. I'm not sure why they don't eat all the seeds because, when I look inside the pumpkins, there are still a good number of seeds clinging to the interior walls. There must be something about those that are unattractive to eat.
Red squirrels are about a half size bigger than gray squirrels. Gray squirrels have larger ears. I've been told gray squirrels are more aggressive but it was the red ones who were running off the gray ones from the peanuts. It's been the red ones getting into the pumpkins. The gray ones gave the red ones a wide berth if they happened to be on the deck at the same time. The gray ones return to the birdbath for water. I've never seen a red squirrel drinking from the birdbath.
Considering Iowa lost in a thriller at the end of the game last week, I think this was the more fun to watch.
Beverage: Huckleberry tea