Perching on the iron fence by the Lower Lake at Nostell, a carrion crow is struggling to extract the sweet chestnut nuts from their spiky green casings. Two of the spiny husks have become firmly Velcroed together.
The experts at nut gathering are the grey squirrels. They are so intent on burying their cache that you can walk past within a few feet of them and they won’t even bother to look up.
They’ll poke their heads down amongst the leaf litter in several spots in succession. One suggestion is that they’ll dig several ‘fake’ holes which they’ll leave nothing in, to confuse any rival squirrel that might be watching them.
The Pleasure Grounds by the Lower Lake are the most popular with squirrels, not just because of the sweet chestnuts but also because no dogs are allowed. Up by the Obelisk Lodge we’d seen a dog walker we know chasing her dog along the cycles-only path.
“She’d seen a squirrel,” she explained, “They’ll stand there, deliberately teasing the dog!”
We think that we saw the squirrel that the dog had chased. It dashed at a frantic pace across the driveway beyond the Obelisk Lodge and shot into the bushes, which resulted in a startled cock pheasant bursting out, grockling in alarm.
Some squirrels do seem to egg on the dogs. In the park, one spaniel was barking in frustration and straining on its lead but the squirrel it had spotted was on the other side of the electric fence (and probably knew that it could scamper about with impunity).
There’s a windy swirl of low pressure, the remnants of ex-Hurricane Oscar, approaching across the Atlantic. Over to the west we can see a distant bank of cloud but here it’s sunny and still with wisps of cirrus and streaks of con trails against the blue sky.