The squirrel was nothing if not determined. Fearless, too.
Its task: get to the bird feeder. The principal impediment: an anti-squirrel baffle, a plastic dome affixed halfway up. It’s welcome to explore the inside of the baffle should it so wish, but finding a way onto the top of the dome so it can gorge itself on fat balls and sunflower seeds is a different matter.
It considered the options. Clamber onto the rosemary bush and jump up? No purchase. Climb up the inside of the baffle and somehow wangle its way round from there? No dice – even when clinging on to the pole with its back legs and trying to claw its way round with its front legs it couldn’t find a way to shift its weight round and up.
It reconsidered. Perhaps, just perhaps, it could jump from the table onto the baffle. We’d moved the table so it shouldn’t be able to do this, but as I say, the squirrel was nothing if not determined. It hopped up onto the table, squirrel-stylee.
We don’t like the squirrels. They bully their way into our garden, stealing the food we’ve put out for our favourite birds. Can’t they see that we want our feeder to be frequented by the cute things, not the vermin? Maybe they don’t realise they’re vermin. Vermin usually don’t. (By way of citation I give you Donald Trump.)
Not all squirrels, of course. On the Isle of Wight there are no grey squirrels. The red variety, their endangered cousins, are regarded as beautiful, shy and endearing. And so they are.
But the grey ones, widespread on the mainland, are bastards, an unwelcome predator, any admiration we might have for their ingenuity and daring completely outweighed by an instinctive distaste for their scavenging habits.
Funny how we’re so selective about which animals we care about. Fluffy, majestic, noble, cute, prone to doing amusing things on camera? Come on in! Squidgy, slimy, indefinably icky, perceived as vermin? Piss off.
Anyway, this squirrel.
It was with some pleasure that I saw this grey squirrel, this resourceful, plucky, verminous grey squirrel, take a running jump and attempt to leap the two metres and eight centimetres (I measured it) from table edge to baffle top, landing with a hefty thump on it and then sliding inexorably off it to the ground.
Undaunted, but ruefully clutching its chest, it took a moment to consider where it went wrong, then tried again.
The bastard clung on, and readied itself to tuck in to the finest fat balls the RSPB has to offer (they’re like crack for blue tits, these fat balls. Seriously.)
I charged out onto the terrace, clapping my hands and sending it charging back down the garden.
I then moved the table another twenty centimetres away from the feeder.
Five minutes later, the squirrel returned. And this happened.
This, I might add, was the first of several such attempts.
Full marks for trying.