Monday, October 12, 2009

Squirrels, Black Walnuts and a Laugh

I admit, I do have a tiny bit of wildlife that crosses my path here in the suburbs of Western New York. You know how thrilled I was to get the pictures of the Red Tailed Hawk, and more recently the deer. There are of course the myriad of bird varieties, the ground hog, the american mink, and the silly chipmunks. But I guess the most common form of wildlife I get visiting my yard is the squirrel.

We have grey ones:

And red ones:
Flying ones ... (okay so I am kidding with that one!)

Mustache and Beard squirrels ...

I admit I take too many pictures of squirrels.

But when they get on my bird feeders, I get a little upset.

Besides eating the bird seed I set out for ... the birds ... squirrels love to collect berries and nuts to store for the coming winter. Unfortunately, one of the nuts they collect is the Black Walnut. Here is one of the Black Walnut trees we have in our yard. Yes they are beautiful, but they are as pesky as the squirrels!

I know, they are a most valued tree. I remember my dad talking about how beautiful the wood was. But did you know they are also extremely toxic. We have tried to grow many things in our flower beds, year after year only to be disappointed that everything died. We did discover the culprit, but alas, as frustrating as it is, you cannot cut down every tree on your property!

Believe it or not, the nuts are annoying as well. How pretty they look on the trees. But as the leaves fall, so do the nuts. They are messy, they are loud, and they are many! Oh there is nothing like being woken in the middle of the night, during a cold and blustery October/November, to the sound of golf balls being thrown at your house, or landing on your roof and rolling off.

But they are helpful in feeding the squirrels. The squirrels chew the green hull off to get at the nut inside. They don't worry about the dye that is inside the shell, that is indelible and very messy. You need to be very careful when picking them up from all over the lawn (so they don't get caught in the lawn mower) that you don't get the ink on your hands. But those squirrels are very messy eaters! Never picking up after themselves.

Black hull with the nut inside ...

The outer shell of the nut ...

Turn it over to find that the nut has been chewed out ...

So where, perhaps you are asking, does the laugh come in on all of this. Well, it's the squirrels. I said that they hide away the nuts for safe keeping, so they will be able to eat thru the winter. It's just ... well ... they hide them in the most ridiculous places. Take a look for yourself, I swear, they were placed in these photo's by squirrels. I have found them in planters, under railings and under chairs but these three places made me laugh this year.

Okay, so maybe this one is my fault, I didn't get out to brush the leaves off of the seat cushion on our uncovered back deck. Do you see the nut in the chair?

Perhaps this one is a little more easy to find. I kid you not ....

But this year, I have a favorite. We tried (unsuccessfully) to grow tomatoes with those upside down hanger things. We didn't get any tomatoes, but we did provide the squirrel with a hiding place. This picture was taken from my family room picture window.
I hope to be around when he comes back to get it. At first I thought it had fallen from the tree and made a perfect landing, but the fact that there is not one other nut laying anywhere around on the ground, makes me think that this one was hidden ... although it is.. in plain sight!