Ted is now so obsessed with them that he woke L up at 5.45 this morning whining and grumbling and generally making a nuisance of himself until someone (me) got up and let him out.
The squirrel has been busy in the back garden. It turns out that while the birds turn up their beaks at left-over homemade wheat-free ginger biscuits, he adores them...
He's been stock-piling his cache of what must be by now pretty soggy lumps of rice flour flavoured with cinnamon and stuck together with egg and sunflower spread by burying them in the garden at the bottom of the fence.
I let him have three or four trips then let Teddy out.
The Squirrel bolted up the fence to safety with his biscuit clamped firmly in his jaws....
And reached the top of the fence from where he knew he was in no immediate danger and could afford to giggle at Ted.
Who frankly deserved giggling at because, for some unaccountable reason known best to himself, instead of using his eyes to see where the squirrel was, he was using his nose to smell where the squirrel had been.
This resulted in the performance of a very long-winded squiggly-patterned trail-following, which took in most of the garden but utterly failed to find the squirrel at the end. This was because by the time he reached the fence where the squirrel had been, the squirrel had long since realised what was going on, run nimbly along the fence top, jumped down onto the lawn and run across it behind Teddy and got up into the safety of the Apple Tree. How embarrassing. It's a good job no one took any pictures....
The Great White Hunter was not dispirited. As soon as he realised what had happened he took up position on the bench that circles the Apple Tree and proceeded to stare at the squirrel, as if he could make it come down using the power of his mind alone.
Foreseeing a potentially lengthy and probably monotonous siege, I went off to make some hot water and found this going on in the front garden...
The Next Generation Has Arrived.
A Squirrel Child (above) and A Squirrel Parent (below)
Frankly that's just showing off....
I returned to the back garden to discover that Squirrel Number One had got bored with staring into Ted's eyes and decided to make a bid for freedom, flinging himself from the top of the Apple Tree in the general direction of the Bamboo, which is quite some distance further than any squirrel should be capable of reaching. Against all the odds he did it.
Ted was furious and spent the next ten minutes searching every cane of bamboo yipping shrilly but by then the squirrel was long gone.
He looked so dejected when he finally emerged I didn't dare tell him about what had happened in the front garden. Instead I distracted him by pointing out the Greenfinches who have returned (and have a child they've hidden away somewhere), and a poor Robin Who Has Lost His Tail In Some Mysterious Accident We Will Never Know The Details Of. He was finding balancing on the feeder quite hard, poor thing.
Ted went back to checking the garden for any sign of squirrels and I left him to it and went up to the pond, where I was nearly knocked flying by my friend Mrs Sparrow, who zoomed past me in her usual uber casual way, flicking her wings and landing rather impressively I thought (although I didn't tell her so because she is already a very confident bird) on the teeny weeny wire strand that tops the compost heap. She cocked her head and looked at me as is her wont, then without warning launched herself off the wire, flew straight at me so I had to jump out of her way and landed on her stone in the pond.
I tutted and she glanced at me as if to say "well you were in the way", had a quick drink then zoomed off in a straight line back to the nest.
I followed, curious to see whether there were any sounds of baby sparrows yet but not really expecting any, even though dad has been sitting for a while. BUT, standing beneath the nest the peeps of more sparrow children were indeed audible. This is their second batch this summer and it sounds like there are a fair few chicks. Pretty impressive.
I asked M later whether Mrs S flies that close to him and apparently it's only me. I am relieved, I was worried she would think all humans safe and end up getting hurt as a result. As it is, in our encounters I am the one in danger because she flies so near and so fast that I invariably have to duck or jump out of her way.
Perhaps when her next batch of children are ready to leave the nest we should deploy them as Official Squirrel Scarer Offers, then Ted's nerves might have a chance to return to normal....