Yet More Shenanigans

Dear Readers, no this isn’t some abstract work of art focussed around twigs, but there is a story attached to it, so let me start at the beginning. Yesterday I was peering out of the window when I noticed a pair of squirrels chasing one another round and round the whitebeam. I am pretty sure that at one point they stopped to have one of those ‘when a daddy squirrel loves a mummy squirrel very much’ moments. Then it was off for another chase.

Grey squirrels only breed twice a year, in late February/March, and then again in June/July. The gestation period is about six weeks. An average litter is about three, but a female can have up to nine youngsters, which she rears alone for about a month, before they leave the drey. And herein lays the problem. The female usually rears her young in the whitebeam- you might remember these short films  of two youngsters that I took during the first lockdown in 2020.

This year, however, there’s a pair of magpies nesting right where the drey used to be (in fact, I think the birds might have used the drey as a starting point before adding twigs of their own). One of the squirrels actually entered what is now the nest from below, and was soundly chased off by a very cross magpie, who was sitting in the nest (though whether she is actually incubating eggs I cannot tell).

Squirrel heading for the drey/nest


Very irritated magpie

So who knows how this will all play out? Will the squirrel move to the hawthorn and risk raising her young in such close proximity to a known nest robber? Will the aggression of the magpie actually keep other predators away? Who knows, but it’s fascinating to see such interactions without even having to go out into the sleet and snow that we’ve been having this week. I shall keep you posted….