Friday, January 18, 2013

the squirrel whisperer


We call him the Squirrel Whisperer.

Most days (weather permitting, of course) we like to spend an hour or two walking around the forested paths of Point Pleasant Park. No matter the route it's inevitable we eventually make our way along the broad beach path where the ocean waves provide the kind of wild entertainment the North Atlantic is famous for. About half way we're given a choice to cut across the now icy snowfields around the remains of a decrepit wwII fort to the ploughed road or to follow the path as it narrows between the fort and the old gun emplacements. Yes, they did have concerns Halifax might be invaded by Nazi u-boats in 1942  but it seems they needn't have worried.

Anyway, as often as not when we walk along that confined space, we'll pause to watch the Squirrel Whisperer. Sometimes we see him in other areas of the park but most often we'll find him standing near a tree stump in that defile patiently holding out one unshelled peanut in his bare hand. Usually there's a dubious looking squirrel wondering if it should take a chance. It's kind of fascinating to watch the two of them as they measure each other's intentions. Hunger nearly always wins.

Once the weather gets cold I always carry my little bag of shelled peanuts and raw sunflower seeds but I tend to scatter them at the spot where we like to sit, the place where our crow friends expect us. The rest of the contents get deposited in an open feeder a few hundred yards further along. I like wild animals but I don't need to have them eat from my hand. When it comes down to it I'm probably as wary of them as they should be of us.

The Squirrel Whisperer has another point of view.. or maybe he likes being out there all day.

ps: Right now the temperature is noted as 8˚ feels like -20˚ with 30mph winds. Yes, we went for a walk but not to the park. I wonder if he did.

14 comments:

linda said...

hi susan,
as a distraction from lance and O, i am reading and grinning at your squirrel whisperer... one way to lose a finger tip, that's for sure. i wonder if he's ever been bit and if he's had rabies or lyme....nope, to me squirrels are large rats with bushy tails, which indeed they are! your's is a cute little guy tho. :)

woo, tis cold up there...we're having a blasted inversion layer here for the past week and supposedly next. i yearn for a huge blowing rainstorm but none so far so am not going out to walk...ugh... xox

marja-leena said...

Delightful story and drawing again, Susan, you really are a master (mistress??) at this.

Did I ever tell you the story of one squirrel and one bluejay in our backyard one summer? Someone in our neighbourhood puts out peanuts for all the wildlife. One day I happened to see said squirrel and said bluejay facing each other, with a peanut on the grass between them. They would do this dance and then an alternating lunge towards the peanut, neither catching the prize, being fearful of the other. It was a most entertaining dance to watch. I don't remember if I saw a winner in that contest.

gfid said...

They're cheeky little blighters, those squirrels. Entertaining at a distance. I once moved into a cabin on the Yukon River that had been abandoned for several years. The former occupants had pretty much left without taking a thing. Squirrels are big-time opportunists. By the time I came on the scene they had replaced books on the rough-hewn shelves with stashes of mushrooms and pine cones, chewed a nest into the bedding and mattresses, and defecated on everything they didn't want to eat or sleep in. Cleaning the place up was a huge job, and it took months of open windows to get rid of the smell. Mushroom fed squirrel guano is in an olfactory class all it's own. But the worst of it was keeping the rotters OUT after we'd moved in. It's astonishing what tiny spaces squirrels can squirt themselves through!

susan said...

Any distraction, including memorizing the nutrient contents of a cereal box, would beat knowing more from Lance and O. I'm glad this was here for you. Although squirrels are fun to see in their natural habitat I know what you ean about their essential nature.

I hope you get that rainstorm to blow the unpleasantness away.

susan said...

This was a spur of the moment one after seeing him yet again. I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

I've noticed squirrels are much more aggressive with other squirrels than with the crows. They're wary of them but not afraid. Now I'm wondering who won the peanut that day - first one to take his eye off it is my guess.

susan said...

Yes, I prefer them at a distance too. I still marvel at your adventures in living so far from civilization so very far north. The idea of having to evict squirrels and clean up the mess they made over the course of years is pretty daunting. Mushroom fed squirrel guano? Yuck.

My only close to home experience with the little devils has been trying to keep them off various bird feeders over the years. They really can get into just about anything.

Rob-bear said...

Beautiful.

For the record, memory serves that German U-boats sank ships on the St. Lawrence river.

Blessings and Bear hugs.

Maybe I can find a Bear whisperer.

jams o donnell said...

Perhaps you have to start small in the Horse whispering business. First comes the ant whisperer then the worm then the shrew the squirrel the dog the goat and finally the horse.A lucky few have gone on to e elephant and even whale whisperers!

susan said...

Thank you.

My dad first saw Canada when his ship was part of an escort fleet. I should have remembered that part.

May the Bear whisperer find you in your comfy cave.

susan said...

Good one, Jams!

Life As I Know It Now said...

I prefer to see the wildlife doing their thing while I just watch. No need to interact with them. It is peaceful and meaningful to me to just be in the moment.

It sounds downright cold there, burr! It is cold here as well and the wind makes it even more so. I think I would have stayed in and kept warm rather than go walking myself but you are braver in that small way and lots of others larger ways I am sure :)

susan said...

I feel much the same except for the fact I like to bring them some food during cold weather. I don't know if it helps or not but it makes me feel a bit better.

Yes, it's become very cold just recently. I can tell how cold by the number of kleenex I use on the average walk - a 10+ is a bad day. Not so brave, just restless :-)

Lisa Golden said...

If he's willing to feed squirrels one at a time, I'll be the cold and wind didn't deter him. Now WHY he would want to do that is beyond me. Like you and the rest of the commenters here, I love wildlife, but have no need to be that close.

And look at the squirrel's expression. He's just as perplexed as we are.

susan said...

What the birds and little beasts need at this time of year is food rather than learning tricks. Poor things won't all make it through this winter.