On Thursday my husband shot the squirrel. It was a clean shot to the head; his death was instantaneous. And as this is the country he then made a good meal for either a buzzard or a red kite. Those birds that feed on carrion have slim pickings these days, now that the carcass of a sheep must be removed immediately. I shan’t have time to miss the squirrel’s perky personality however, because, as I write, four of his relatives are cavorting around the bird feeders. I doubt they’re mourning the Bully Boy.
There’s one major problem with squirrels. No matter how sweet they may look and no matter how amusing their antics, they do enormous damage.
By stripping the bark, squirrels managed to destroy all 25 of my silver birches over a period of five or six years, thus depriving me of the beauty of one of the most elegant of trees, and a flock of reed warblers of a nightly feast and a roost. I still walk round the wood but the reed warblers have never returned.
The grey squirrels were imported from the eastern United States in the 1870s to an estate in Cheshire. Presumably, whoever brought them here had more money than sense and wanted to impress his neighbours. He surely can’t have had any idea what he was unleashing into the wild. Since then they have driven out almost all our native red squirrels, which now exist only in Scotland and on Anglesey.
And while we’re talking about endangered species, as a Lenten exercise, whenever you have a cup of tea or coffee in the next week, would you please remember Dairy Farmers who, at the moment, are being paid a mere 15p a litre for their milk.