The 2008 Journal
Mainly it is about the wildlife whose existence around our home follows a somewhat predictable pattern from year to year but still manages to be full of surprises with no outcome guaranteed. Since the first sighting of Flying squirrels in 1993, we have been fascinated by the variety of the wildlife to be observed and studied right here on our half acre. I have chronicled some of that activity for the last few years in a number of different formats. This year the schema will be simply a page or multiple pages per month. Follow the adventure by selecting each month from the menu.
The first half of 2008 has now been written into the history books for good or ill and nothing can change either. Compared to the strife throughout the human world with conflicts, floods, earthquakes, typhoons , fires, mudslides, murders, foreclosures, financial undermining, et al, the backyard scenes pale in comparison to the more serious afflictions thus mentioned. Except of course to the animals and birds whose own world of strife, struggle, procreation, and even play are at least free from the daily onslaught of tragic human news dominating the media. So it is the purpose of these pages to offer through the mundane events herein depicted , an escape and or a retreat, most assuredly to the writer, and perhaps for the visitor, to this other world, although not always serene. Case in point my continuing, shall we say, disagreement with not all, but certainly a few of the many gray squirrels attempting to call this place home.
I hoped this conflict had been resolved with the January episode of this drama and it appeared to have been so at the time. This video from the January page is below for review.
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The Gray Squirrel verses HowPeg. A Gray squirrel feeling the call of Spring time family raising instincts is building a nest . Problem is she is building it in a gutter and using fresh cut Holly branches from the shrubbery. This video chronicles a bit of the action adventure as it unfolded.
But, alas, the fix was at best temporary, and in June, the culprit, or culprits, as the case may be, had designs once again on gutter nest building at the expense $$ of the same previously vandalized Holly. This little production will take a few days to present and will be done in stages. The First video gives a demo of what we were up against . Click on the picture below for Video 1
The battle was on again. For preventative purposes I deployed the chicken wire covering over the holly once again, to dissuade the gray from extracting more holly branches and called once again the Animal Control outfit. The company had a new owner, a retired and decorated army veteran of Iraq . It was my pleasure to make his acquaintance and thank him for his service. It was my intent to have him close off all of the gutter openings, at each end, to stop any chance of repeated nest building activity. This he did as the video demonstrates. Unfortunately we over looked one and in a few days I was shocked to see the squirrel back at the holly. I followed his movements out of the holly and over the roof to the rear of the house and it had found an opening that we had evidently missed. This called for a return visit from the retired Sergeant. And once again I thought surely this would end the episode. I was wrong again but, I am getting ahead of myself.
Click on the below Pictures for the video.
Now you would think that with the $600 expenditure , includes the January expense, and all entrances to all gutters sealed, that the holly branches would no longer be in jeopardy. About three days after the last sealing , I once again and very much to my disgust, saw a gray going into the holly and removing a branch. This time he was taking it to a part of the gutter that had no opening, but he was knawing on the wood trying to make an entrance. By this time I was becoming quite agitated and began to think of all sorts of devious plans to combat this small but very capable foe. By the way chopping down the holly was never in my thoughts although it is time to trim them back and will happen in a few days. I decided to place the live trap right at the base of the holly. It did not take long and the first one was in the trap. Before it was over, I trapped, transported and released unharmed three grays and now have the will and capability to do more if necessary. I do think this time I have solved the problem , as I have seen no more roof to holly activity. Click on the picture for the video
July 14, 2008 -- Mid July and the Gray Squirrel - holly desecration- annoyance has ended - at least for now. The normal July backyard wildlife activity is in full swing, with the Ruby Throated Hummers on the increase and becoming increasingly bold, much to my delight as they allow me to get very near to try to get that special picture. This years crop of Blue Jays must be a record , saw 10 young ones on the feeders and beneath, at the same time, and the woodpeckers are having a field day with the suet cakes. Meanwhile at the Oak tree flying squirrel feeder activity, has picked up mightily with the numbers increasing nightly. Of course the usual melodrama, I call as the race for the sunflower hearts continues each night with the early claimers, just before dark, the gray squirrels, and the cardinals. Then if my timing is right and I am able to be close, the Flyers actually have a chance to the feast , but not for long as the raccoons soon appear and dispose of all the allocation for the evening. Of course if I am available to be nearby for a while, I will drive away the grays and the raccoons. The Pileated woodpecker family stays close and does their part to rid the world of suet cakes, placed now almost daily. For about a month now I have observed a young Pileated still being fed by one or both parents. So from the wildlife standpoint in our backyard life goes on in the natural way. A bit of this life is depicted in the following mid July pictures.
July 17 2008 -- Now I like the temperature to be in the 80's and when it gets to the stage of the summer when the 90's are an every day occurrence and the Ohio Valley humidity is at it's worst, I wonder just how these visiting furbearers can tolerate- and yet they prevail. Last night was a typical night at the flying squirrel feeder and about six showed up early and then right on cue came the masked bandit. Brazen little guy they all just went about their business without much regard for me, even though continually just about three feet away.
One of these Flying Squirrel visitors has a unique coloring scheme,
The Raccoon arriving
All that I did was to ask it to leave
and leave the sunflower hearts for the Flyers. This is the response I
Also this little critter, has a bad eye. I was close enough to see the milky eye. I believe it is blind in that eye. He comes every night and via the same path - has hollowed out a space under the fence and chooses to scoot under rather than climb over. This one is very gray, and appears almost white in places.
The next two pictures will give an idea of just how small the flyers are especially when compared to the size of the raccoon
July 31 --- and a brief recap of our wildlife activity for the seventh month of 2008. Actually life goes on pretty much without perceptible deviation from the normal cast of wildlife characters. The gray squirrels are plentiful but no further gutter nesting and holly vandalism has been noted since trapping an relocating three at the beginning of the month. The Hummingbirds continue to come but not in the same numbers as last year and of course they must share the goodies with the other sweet water aficionados- the Wasp and the Bumble Bee. The flying squirrels are at the feeder, now every evening promptly at 9:30 PM and the one eyed raccoon shows up within the hour to finish off the nightly allocation of sunflower hearts. The Pileated woodpecker visits have all but ceased for now and most of the young birds from this years reproduction cycle are fending for themselves with the parental feeding seemingly finished for now. The suet and seed cake offerings are being gobbled up by the usual variety of feathered visitors and August is now just a few hours away. The pictures below depict some of the latter day July activity.
Continuing in August
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