Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Raiders of the Lost Hearts

A few weeks ago I bought a new bird feeding station, to replace my rusty, old, broken one. It's good. It's much sturdier than my last one, and comes with moisture caps to stop bird poo seeping into the pole and running down my hand every time I take it out of the ground. But for the first time in my six years of feeding the local garden birds, my feeders have started being raided by a mystery bandit.
My feeding station, as it looks before a raid
It all started about a week ago, when I found my peanut feeder on the floor. At first I thought it might have been the wind, but a trail of peanuts leading from the bottom of the feeding station to the feeder's final resting place in the middle of the garden suggested that it had been knocked off and dragged across the ground by an animal.

A squirrel seemed the obvious suspect, and after knocking off my peanut, fat ball and sunflower heart feeders and devouring their contents consistently over the next few days, I decided to set up my trail camera to capture its amazing acrobatic abilities in action. However, what it recorded only deepened the mystery further.
My feeding station, after a raid
 I positioned the camera not far from the feeder at about 11 PM last night. When I got up at 5.30 AM this morning to have a look, the peanut and fat ball feeders were both on the floor again. The mystery bandit must have filled his stomach this time, because after gobbling down all four fat balls it could only manage to eat about half of the peanuts I put out. 
The fat balls were completely consumed
A pile of feathers also lay on the ground, as if a bird (most likely a dove) had been killed there. These definitely weren't there the night before, and whether or not they have anything to do with the animal raiding my feeders I don't know, but they have certainly added more confusion to what was otherwise a seemingly straightforward matter.  
This pile of feathers was found close to the feeding station. A clue to the identity of the culprit? Maybe.
But here's the most interesting part. When I looked at what the camera had recorded, thinking that I'd finally caught the thief red-handed, I found nothing. File 42 shows me adjusting the camera last night. File 43 shows me collecting the camera this morning.  Whatever it was that raided my feeders last night, it must have done so so quickly that it didn't even trigger the camera's motion sensor.  

So what could it be? The animal only seems to strike at night , it must be extremely agile to scale my feeding station and lift off the feeders, and it does this so quickly that it doesn't trip the motion sensor which makes my trail cam start recording. A Squirrel? A Rat? A Ghost?

The scene of the crime!
One thing's for sure though- it's costing me a fortune in bird seed!

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