Battle of (t)wits (or possibly tweets)

I am currently engaged in a bitter war with an unseen opponent. It is in my back garden and as they say in rather poor war movies, failure is not an option.

Generally it has been a good year for me in the garden. The fruit trees and bushes are setting with plenty of fruit, so the huge piles of jam jars are already anticipating jam, jelly and chutney of various types. At least one of the Clematis I have planted is flowering (creating a good twin scenario with its evil twin that steadfastly refuses to do anything flower wise despite fair and equal treatment). And finally tackling the duckweed on the pond has resulted in almost immediate re-colonization by some of my favourite pond species with a host of baby pond skaters. I’m looking forward to the return of the water boatman. Actually I am pleased I finally got around to this as now you can see water rather than an expanse of green suddenly all the birds have noticed what a rare water source in the local area is so over the next few years I have high hopes to get some interesting new garden residents.

But the current challenge is the bird feeder and whatever beastie is capable of pecking (see, already drawing conclusions) through a mass of blue tack to flick the fat ball feeder off the hook and scoff the lot.

So, who are the likely culprits, assuming it is not the Lovely Wife executing a long term practical joke? Well, these are the usual suspects.

Squirrels: I can eliminate the furred tailed vermin I think. They cannot climb up the pole die to one of those clever plastic concave covers. One of the bolder (more insane?) ones did try – successfully – hurling itself onto the feed from the branches of nearby trees a couple of years ago, but after a period of experimentation the position of the bird feeder is now far enough away from any potential launch platforms to be outside the parameters of squirrel hurling for now at least. I suspect my bird feeder is not a strong enough selective pressure to drive the local population to become sugar gliders so I think, for once, I cannot blame the furry ones.

Magpies: Probably most likely. We have a resident pair, they do like the fat balls and they are very bright. That said, to be able to dislodge that amount of blue tack takes a lot of physical strength as well as intelligence. So while they have to be primary suspects I do think a cousin may be the real culprit.

Crow: There is at least one pair of Carrion Crows in the local area. They are magnificent birds, glossy black, healthy and not scared of anything. I’m a huge fan of the family more so because they are so maligned, when all of the crows are beautiful, intelligent birds when you look at them carefully (OK, I’m not convinced regarding rooks, but hey) One of the crows dive bombed the pigeons in our garden yesterday as far we can tell for fun – it just felt ‘I’m bored let’s scare some stupid birds’. Scarily human I think.

They have the intelligence, and they have the physical strength. Yes. I blame the crows. I know my enemy, and battle is joined.

Of course I love this. It is fun trying to out think a bird (it’s winning at the moment) and I will find a solution at some point. It is at times like these, with (for us) much watch Springwatch starting next week on the BBC that I desperately want to set up a camera to catch the thief in the act – it is so tempting – but I’m not sure night vision movement sensitive cameras fall within the current budget.

And anyway, isn’t it fun speculating?

The Lovely Wife had a plan this morning. We will be putting operation wire fastener into action soon.

See what you think about that, my Corvid friend.

(PS: This week’s learning: single gentlemen – apparently carrying around an unusual fruit tree in a shop invites ladies to start conversation with you – well, one was very interested in my Kiwi fruit bush.)