It is getting a lot colder here and you can really feel winter coming. We have discovered yet another feral cat hanging around the bird feeders which will be why our pine martens have not yet returned. We have once again placed traps out in an effort to catch it and have baited them with fish cat food but having watched the cameras we are now aware that this in unlikely to catch the cat in question. The cat was watched both last night and the night before eating the peanuts believe it or not. Last night we put out large chunks of peanut butter for the fallow deer which are starting to come to the feeders and instead of them eating it, the feral cat did. It spent at least two hours wandering around the tree eating the nuts off the ground and licking the peanut butter and even ironically enough sat on top of one of our traps cleaning itself. At one point whilst the cat was sitting in the tree eating peanut butter a fallow deer came across and both stood inspecting each other with about a foot between their faces before they both went back to munching on the nuts. We will try peanut butter as bait to see if we can finally catch this peanut loving cat and remove it so our pine martens will finally return.
We had also placed out apples for the deer and I discovered yesterday that the red squirrels have been taking them away up the trees. Whilst I was setting one of the traps a red squirrel which was hanging about above me and becoming irritated with me being near its peanuts so it started shouting at me. Yes squirrels actually do shout at you! I spoke to it then carried about my business when an apple fell down from the tree missing me by only a few inches. When I inspected the vicinity there was no one around and there are no apple trees at Loch of the Lowes, all the trees overhead were hazels or silver birches. On looking at the apple I noticed bite marks created by a small mammal which has led me to the conclusion that the squirrel was trying to make a point that I was too close to its nuts and chucked an apple at me. This type of event has occurred to the visitor centre manger as well but with grey squirrels. The squirrels were throwing chestnuts at three dogs which were close to the tree but unfortunately enough for him he was also in the firing line.
As well as cheeky red squirrels we also have the mallard ducks which are becoming very sneaky. The fence we constructed to keep them out of the feeding area has generally worked and there are usually no or only a few mallards which get inside the enclosure during the day. The problem is that the ducks have gotten wise that although they get chased away during the day, there is no one watching them at night. As soon as the shutters go down the mallards flock into the enclosure to get to the nuts and seeds. I think we can safely say that animals are not stupid and they certainly have their own little personalities.