That said, this winter it has been unusually frosty since Christmas and I have been leaving the heating on 24-hours (reducing temperature at night) in case the water pipes decide to freeze and spring a leak when they thaw. Each morning I wake to dazzling white frosty roads, white grass and cars looking like they have been dusted with icing sugar. We have also been blessed with clear blue skies and by mid-morning the sun has melted any ice to give the plants in the garden a chance to rally round.
However I have been feeling sorry for the wild life. I love the squirrels that now visit my garden. I could never encourage them before when I had a dog and a cat as both hated squirrels with a passion and the dog would hurl himself at the patio window in an attempt to get at them, forgetting there was glass between them. The cat would hide incognito among the shrubs in wait for them, so any decent squirrel who wanted to see another day became used to avoiding our garden. Now my dog and cat have passed over the rainbow bridge, I recently decided to buy bags of peanuts for the squirrels to fatten them up over this cold spell. I painstakingly hide the nuts between the garden tubs on the patio, so the birds cannot get at them. Each day at breakfast time, I often come down to the kitchen to find at least one if not five squirrels waiting patiently for me to throw the nuts out for them. They sit on their haunches munching away until they are full, then take the remainder to bury for another time. Some are now so tame, they no longer scamper away when I throw out more nuts for them. We are slowly getting to know one another. I study them while I sit inches away on the other side of the patio door and have my breakfast.
But now I have also started feeling sorry for the birds. Not wanting to deprive the squirrels of their peanuts, I have added bird seed to my weekly shopping list. I watch while the pigeons, blackbirds, thrushes, jays, magpies, parakeets, crows and two robins peck hungrily away at the spread on the ground, while the squirrels weave back and forth between them. Word is spreading as more birds seem to arrive each day. There's a good cafe five gardens to the right of the big chestnut tree. Plenty of seed and plenty of nuts. Come and join us. I like to think I'm doing my bit to keep their tummies full and survive the harsh winter. (OK, well, harsh by London standards!)
Apologies for the quality of the photos but they were taken through the patio window glass on zoom lest I scared them all away.....
|Oh, there it is|
|Two of the five squirrels have turned up. I cannot photo them all in the same place as they are so skittish, duck and dive all over the place, and run off to hide their finds.|
|Nom, this nut is so tasty|
|Hi. Any chance of some more?|
|I need both paws to hold this one.|
|of course the jay did not turn up as I was taking photos, so you will just have to believe me, but here's one I grabbed from the internet, courtesy of mbaker.co.uk|