Friday, June 17, 2005


A Reccy

Yesterday I put up two squirrel feeders. Not the special selective mesh ones you understand, just the normal nut-containers with the lid that the squirrels lift to get to the nuts (and, hopefully, to activate an automatic photograph). As there were already two feeders installed in the wood, I now have 4 squirrel feeding stations ready and waiting for the project to begin!

The evening started with an hour’s drive north, collecting another couple of selective feeders and a sack of squirrel-food au route. At the destination, my contact was just locking up the post-office, grabbing a sandwich and his gun before we headed out to the wood where he’s been feeding his red squirrels and keeping the grey’s in check. A bit of a tour round and I’d seen his ingenious grey squirrel-catching device that uses a sponge, just a normal sort of washing-up type sponge. He originally played around cutting up sponges till he got the sponginess just right so that red squirrels (up to 300g) can dance around on the sponge quite happily and eat their fill, but greys (over 500g) compress the sponge and trigger the door to close.

Anyway, not to get sidetracked, he introduced me to the two different trees his squirrel hoppers are based on and I popped up my two additional ones in the vicinity*1. Added some double sided sticky tape now that the official stuff*2 has arrived. Not very impressed with it tho. It only leaves the gluey sticky bit on the wood so there’s no way I can peel it off again to collect hairs once a week! AND a squirrel came and used a feeder I’d just sticky taped but hadn’t left any hairs behind when I checked before leaving! Shall try experimenting with a paper strip sandwiched between 2 sticky layers so that I can de-peel more easily. So: 4 feeders in secret location now up and awaiting installation of squirrel-activated digital cameras. Target camera collection and setting up date: Monday. Definite Progress.

*1 The forestry commission reckons 2-3 (or 4 if you’re me and want to maximise statistics) feeders 200-300m apart in a 50 hectares woodland block. I’ll stick with one block as squirrel populations are likely to have different feeding behaviours in different areas.
*2 “…double sided sticky tape (e.g. Scotch ‘pressure sensitive’ tape; Stock reference no. 465; North British Tapes Ltd, Killingworth, Tyne & Wear) are placed on the inside roof…” Practical Techniques
for Surveying and Monitoring Squirrels, Forestry Commison.

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