Earlier this spring I hung a bird feeder from the apple tree in my garden and since then I have had to refill it every few days.
Although I have seen blue tits and other small birds visit it from time to time I was surprised at how quickly it was being emptied.
The other morning I found out why. A family of squirrels have been removing the seeds from the feeder and probably planting them all over my lawn.
Although I realise squirrels can be a bit if a nuisance - such as when they are stealing from bird feeders - I like watching them in my garden, even though they are grey squirrels and not the red variety. So, when I was doing some research about them for A Bad Witch's Blog I was shocked to discover just how much they are hated.
I browsed through hundreds of websites detailing squirrels' villainous deeds and recommending their extermination but only found a handful with any positive information.
The main reason grey squirrels are considered a threat is that they are partly responsible for driving out the red squirrels that are native to this country. I say partly responsible, because other factors including disease, hunting and changes of land use are also factors. Humans have to shoulder at least some of the blame because we are the ones who imported the greys from America, back in 1876.
While I am very much in favour of schemes to protect red squirrels where they still exist in the UK, such as the Isle of Wight, I don't approve of plans to poison or shoot grey squirrels in our capital. Even if we managed to kill every grey squirrel in London, it is extremely unlikely to bring red squirrels back to our parks and gardens. We would just live in a city without squirrels.
For my own garden I briefly considered buying a squirrel-resistant bird feeder, but decided against it. I enjoy watching the playful and inquisitive creatures in my apple tree, running about on my lawn and burying nuts and seeds.
What I am wondering, however, is whether my lawn will be a forest of sunflowers come the summer. I suppose I shouldn't be too concerned - only last week I was extolling the virtues of letting my garden grow wild.
For more information about squirrels visit: www.squirrels.info/uk/in_uk.htm