My nemeses...notice the way it is spelled. Nemesis with an "I" implies one, while Nemeses with an "E" implies multiple. I regard myself to have multiple nemesis or simply nemeses. I am sure by the image you can tell who they are.
Now, I spend hours trying to figure out these little guys and at the moment there are 3 babies, a mama and a dad. And that is the minimum number of nemeses since I have yet to take a current census of neighboring yards and trees. Sometimes I look out back and think someone is running a soccer camp in the trees with squirrels running up and down, playing, eating, or some just sit and stare at me.
My battle.....and yes, a battle.....is between my nemeses and finding approaches of keeping them away from my bird feeders. For some of my feeders, I have clearly won, well...let me qualify that statement. I have won in regards to my nemeses; the squirrels, but not in regards to my nemeses the grackles.
Now, I have one feeder in particular for Black Sunflower Seeds that nemeses genus Sciurus carolinensis (Eastern Grey Squirrel) have a fondness for. Currently I have this feeder hanging from a limb that is exactly the same distance away from the trunks of two trees and has included there-within, two baffles above the feeder. Each of the baffles is solidly on the chain which 'in theory" prevents said Sciurus carolinensis from shimmering down the chain, past each baffle and to the feeder. You see....... I figured this one out a few weeks ago. If I make the baffles so they solidly stay in place and have little 'tilt' to them, the grey squirrel, no matter how much they try....cannot easily get to the feeder without falling down. The baffles are simply too slick and they slide off as they attempt the journey from chain, to baffle, to chain, to baffle, to chain, to feeder (The sequencing being just that).
For awhile it reminded me of a Wiley Coyote cartoon as a wiley squirrel would venture down the chain, come upon the first baffle and then 'surfboard' on the top of the baffle until it fell off. The baffle being solidly on the chain, didn't allow the squirrel to push the baffle to the chain and then move downwards. Yes, I succeeded.......for awhile.
Now that worked for awhile and yet currently they are in the position of having figured it out. I have only gained small glimpses of how they have, so my work to prevent this technique from occurring again is in 'beta stages' or more like my thinking stage. I haven't got past the drawing board yet but my latest thought is going to Home Depot and getting some PFC pipe to pace the first leg of chain in, this the squirrels would slide down the chain, hit the first baffle and immediately 'surf' off, landing on the ground.
For my second squirrel prevention tactic, at first I just haphazardly had the bird feeder hanging from one trunk...oh, so close to the tree trunk that squirrels would jump from the trunk to the tree. Eeeeks,....can't have that. So with great care and measurement, I moved the entire bird feeder setup (with baffles) outwards down the branch so the feeder was situated exactly between the two trunks, each being a distance further away from the jumping distance of the gray squirrels. Or, so I thought.....
My nemeses family have trained hard and now are excellent gymnasts. One squirrel will 'run' (and I mean run)....up the trunk and 'on or about' 5 feel will take a flying squirrel leap outwards, to the bird feeder and grasp and pull itself up to safety. Now, I have seen this same 'tactic' performed in Hollywood movies such as Mission Impossible or James Bond where the producers have created almost inhuman tasks for Mr. Bond or Phelps to engage in. You see, spies....or 'movie spies' can do the damnedest things that us regular humans cannot due. They have knockdown fights balancing themselves on the top of moving trains, jump from helicopters or grab onto the same and make their way inside, or have more fights on the top of tram cars etc.... Well, you get the point...Hollywood makes these super spy heroes more than just humans in their stunt and fight antics. So....I have to ask, who has trained my squirrels? How can my squirrels take flying leaps of faith and haphazardly grasp on to the edges of my bird feeder and pull their bodies up to safety? At the moment, I don't have an answer to this one. I thought of putting a slick 'something' around the tree trunk, preventing them from making that leap of faith, but don't want prevent squirrels from doing their natural thing with trees...but just want to stop the flying leaps.
You see....I have my nemeses..... and they persist, they evolve....their super-squirrel prowlness supersedes my human ingenuity.
Yet, with this intense warfare occurring in my backyard on a daily basis....I can still sit down on a hot, sticky....sultry night in high June....and appreciate the beauty of my nemeses as they lay tiered upon a branch.. They frolic a bit, groom each other...scratch...lay content and beat and yet, they still are cute little guys, my nemeses or not.
...for the moment, until I venture to Home Depot, I have won. I simply do not fill up the Sunflower Feeder in hopes they will forget their tactics so when I do refill, I have a day or two of success. Hey, can you count all '4' tails?
Words of 'sage' here all....pure 'sage'.... You know, sometimes it pays to get out of your usual 'watering hole' and poke around a bit, see whats out there. Now, by 'watering hole' I am not talking about your favorite 'bar' for when you find a good 'bar' you want to stick with that bar, that's for sure. The high chairs, the atmosphere etc... But let's talk 'watering hole' in terms of 'birding locales and given we are near the end of migratory season and more into the residential life for our birding population, take the time to just poke around a bit. Besides, Wildlife Drive at Forsythe is closed for the most part with the exception of weekends so take advantage of this closure and turn it into a positive thing by expanding upon your birding areas.
I did just that. I decided to take a portion of my Wednesday and drive up into the Tuckerton Area and explore the Seven Bridge area, which, appears to be a 'tiny Forsythe'..... My goal was to see if I could find a brown Pelican, something I have seen in Florida and the west coast down to California but never a sighting here in Jersey. So.....time to poke around. Seven Bridges is easy to get to as you just take "9' into Tuckerton and turn right onto Great Bay Blvd and start 'a-driving' until the road aint no more my friend, no more. You will know if you went too far for you will be stuck in sand dunes. My advice is to notice the 'end of the road'.
Up and down the Blvd I went, like a Hollywood vice cop....I was looking for anything on the side of the road that might catch my eyes. Yes, I saw boat -tailed grackles, (lots).... willets, herons and egrets .....red winged blackbirds and gulls. I drove to the end of the Blvd and figured that since it was a beach I might find my targeted bird, the resting pelicans during low tide. And, I decided to bring my scope with me during this short path of 20-30 yards to the sand dunes. The end of the Blvd is right at the entrance to the Rutgers Research Station which is off limits.
At the beach I noticed more gulls and one Great Black-backed Gull was busy eating a turtle of sorts at the tide-line. I left it alone as the poor guy was long gone and anyhow gulls are entitled to eat, thus is nature. Other than a few sunning comorants and some odd looking fishing boats the view was void of any pelicans. None the less, the view on the beach was cool, quiet....and new to me, so I had succeeded in 'poking around' ...Below is a video of the beach.
Okay...a nice bit of poking around.... real nice....weather perfect and no bugs but no 'target bird either'....I was tempted to head up to Holgate for I heard via Ebird that a few were there. But, that is a 'trip' and I didn't have time as I had to be back to help Deb with some art show preparation but I thought I had just enough time to head into Tuckerton proper and see what was at the end of the long drive to Ocean Park. During the winter this can be a good spot to find ocean birds and perhaps a Pelican might be at the park resting on the pier. Up I went.....
Just about all I saw were a couple of motorcyclists talking about their next planned outing and a fisherman or two. No birds. So...out I went..pretty quick. But about 50 yards upwards from the park my 'vice cop' eyes got sight of something in the grass between the road and the inlet. Hmmmm....looks good. So I parked the car and made my way across the street and raised my bins. Yes,...looks real good.... A nice Saltmarsh Long Tailed Sparrow just sitting on top of some reeds. I returned to the car, and grab my scope. Luckily the bird waited for me. It was nice..... In perfect color. While I have seen this bird often in Jersey, this is the closest and longest view of one I have had. Thru the scope the features stood out, in fact they really grabbed me. The gray ear patched bordered by a thick orange eyebrow with the orange extending below as well. A nice white belly and streaked back. Simply beautiful as I sat and watched this guy pay no attention to me for a solid 10 minutes. One of the things I treasure most about birding is the ability to sit and observe. I always consider myself a pretty good 'people watcher' and think I 'read' people well from a distance, but to actually take the time and ponder the life of a bird is truly unique. I sat on this concrete bench (dedicated to the father of two girls in loving memory) and just observed. The bird was balancing atop two spindles of dead brush and swayed in the wind. It would re-balance itself on one of the twig spindles and looked odd all spread out on top of this bush. Every once in a while it would raise its beak and 'attempt' to utter its high squeaky call. I never could hear it and felt like I was watching a silent movie from the flapper days. Perhaps it is due to too much music I listened to as a lad, or...perhaps it is due to the fact that a Saltmarsh Sparrow almost has a 'whisper' call...so while it might have been 'singing away', I had no idea as the song was lost to the wind. Either way a truly unique experience and was the highlight of my poking around day. No pelicans but a Saltmarsh Sparrow. The bird and I became somewhat of friends that day as we bonded near that concrete bench.