An Hour in the Lives of Mr. Gambini and Punkin

With the weather unseasonably warm last week, I decided one morning to get out of the house and do a bit of tidying up on the back porch. No sooner had I began to mutter about the mess of sunflower seeds and pecan shells scattered about on the porch floor, than I heard the familiar “pouncing” noise on the porch railing and pitter patter of little feet as they ran along its length. Mr. Gambini, one of our orphaned juvenile squirrels, had arrived from a westerly direction. Likely, he spotted me from below the slope and came to the porch to see if I had brought out anything good to eat.

I greeted Mr. Gambini as he made his approach along the porch railing, finally rising up on his hind legs to see what I had to offer. But, as soon as he realized I had not brought any food, he scurried away and proceeded to the flower beds below. Once in the bare dirt of the bed, he began to dig in earnest, but did not seem to find what he was looking for. Not to be defeated, he continued to sniff around when the first hole did not produce anything, relocating himself several times in about a two-foot square area.

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Mr. Gambini searches for a buried snack.
Mr. Gambini searches for a buried snack.

I watched him for a while, taking in his diligent digging and patting around with his paws. Finally, he moved to a more grassy area nearby. Closing his eyes, he nosed deeper into a depression in the grass, and more digging ensued. Then, after much tugging and yanking, Mr. Gambini pulled a rather large, black item out of the hole. It was a half-eaten portion of sweet corn on the cob. After securing this large hunk of corn (which was bigger than Mr. Gambini’s head) in his mouth, he set off for a fence post where he proceeded to nibble at his prize meal. It did not take him long to consume what tender kernels were left on the dirty hunk of corn, and he soon tossed the cob to the ground and took off down the slope to the west again, scrambling up one of the many elm trees that grow near the water tub.

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I was surprised to find that squirrels bury all sorts of food items for their winter cache.
I was surprised to find that squirrels bury all sorts of food items for their winter cache.

While ascending the tree, I was pleased to see that Mr. Gambini was practicing good squirrel safety tactics, such as hiding around the backside of the trunk where a predator could not see him. Any time a crow flew over, he froze in stillness and waited for the danger to pass.  I also observed him hanging upside down on the trunk of the tree, stretching his body and legs, and looking quite leisurely for the moment. Then suddenly, he scrambled further up the tree and leaped to a smaller branch where he began eating small buds and slender twigs. Though the branch did not look large enough to support him, his weight seemed perfectly balanced as he moved up and down the twig, while constantly nibbling at little goodies along the way.

Mr. Gambini safely makes his way to the bottom of the slope, always alert for predators!
Mr. Gambini safely makes his way to the bottom of the slope, always alert for predators!

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Elm trees provide tender buds and twigs for nibbling. Nearby hackberry trees put off tasty berries and yummy tree bark. Even the dying leaves can be a food source. Daisy deer loves to eat autumn leaves!
Elm trees provide tender buds and twigs for nibbling. Nearby hackberry trees put off tasty berries and yummy tree bark. Even the dying leaves can be a food source. Daisy deer loves to eat autumn leaves!

After observing Mr. Gambini for a time, I walked back up the hill to resume cleaning up the back porch. It was not just Mr. Gambini and Punkin who had made such a mess on the floor, as various birds had discovered my daily offering of seeds and nuts as well. I also noticed two neighborhood squirrels had recently been making themselves at home on our porch, running off with the loot whenever I showed up to send them packing. And at nights, the usual raccoon trouble had started up again. This was a constant problem especially in the winter months. And considering that our orphaned squirrels were burying their corn on the cob around the back porch, I surmised that, along with the barrels of deer feed and corn, the raccoons could also detect fresh food in the vicinity.

As I finished my cleaning task, I heard the pounce and patter of feet again. Mr. Gambini was back. This time I found him investigating other areas of the porch in which I would rather he showed no interest. I warned FD that these two juvenile squirrels were becoming much too inquisitive and, sooner or later, we would be sorry for allowing them winter quarters on the back porch. Recently, I’d caught Punkin red-handed with a freshly chewed off portion of the  pull chain of our sun shades in her mouth! Now, here was Mr. Gambini running like a pro along my rolled up sun shades, snooping around the outdoor speakers, and deftly using the satellite tower to make his way to the dish on the rooftop. Those connections on the rooftop would be far too interesting and chewy to pass up one of these days. Thinking of this probability, I visualized FD in his easy chair watching football one Saturday or Sunday afternoon when all of a sudden, BLIP, the satellite signal is gone!

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As I was coaxing Mr. Gambini down from his perch on the rooftop with a pecan, Punkin showed up.  Fortunately for her, I had a spare nut in my pocket which she was only too happy to take off my hands. I watched the two of them nibble away at their pecans with lightning speed. As soon as each finished their portions, a squabble started up over what discards were left. Mr. Gambini attacked Punkin, but it was ever so gentle, actually more of an interrogation of “let me see what you have” if anything. A little rough housing followed, and then Punkin leaped on the porch rail, with Gambini following. From here, they both gazed out to the woods for a while, and it was not long before they set off to the trees – Mr. Gambini to the west and Punkin in a more northerly direction. There was still plenty of daytime hours to discover what else the woodlands had to offer, and then that nice lady would be putting out fresh vittles at bedtime…

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I hope this is simply playful practice and not an indication of Grandsquirrels in the spring!
I hope this is simply playful practice and not an indication of Grandsquirrels in the spring!

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 

 

 


56 thoughts on “An Hour in the Lives of Mr. Gambini and Punkin

  1. What a delightful and humorous commentary to read on my Sunday morning! Gorgeous photos as well. I love learning about the behaviour of these entertaining creatures. I also have some native animals that I like to have about but get a bit too inquisitive sometimes in regard to house fittings/wiring etc. The local cockatoos quite like chewing on wooden edges of the house! Our possums thunder across the metal roof, sounding more like elephants and will try as hard as they can to find a way into the ceiling. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much Jane. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to observe all of these wild creatures, learning about their habits and characteristics. We try to critter proof things around here but of course destruction still occurs. Most of the time we just make the necessary repairs and try to curb further destruction. I’m never too upset… we enjoy a lot of entertainment from them. 🙂

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  2. What a great series of pics, and how fun to spend an hour with these two cuties! As for that last one, hmm, I saw a pair of squirrels getting busy beside my deck a while back and was surprised at how long they took to finish, and how much noise they made. It was quite the scene! I don’t know if these two are old enough to procreate yet, but I sure hope so because I can only imagine the wonderful stories and photos you’d be sharing with us when you have grandbaby squirrels, LOL.

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    1. Hello Kim! I have watched squirrels copulate before, and I was surprised at how gentle they were – of course I’m sure it’s not always like that! I do not think Punkin and Gambini are old enough – it seems like they might not be mature enough to procreate for several months, but watching them, perhaps it’s practice. It will be interesting to see if these two stick around after the winter passes.

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  3. What beautiful animals your babies have grown up to be Lori. How very rewarding to see them thriving and cheekily utilising you and your garden for their snacking purposes ;). This must be especially rewarding when it comes to Mr Gambini as he was such a small and sickly baby that to see him performing aerobics on that tree trunk must bring a very warm glow to your heart :). I am trying not to wake Steve up laughing loudly under my breath at that image of Punkin and Gambini with one of them (I am assuming Punkin?) upside down. HILARIOUS stuff ;). Wouldn’t grandsquirrels be lovely. Tiny little fearless babies who would know exactly which buttons to push to get food from “That nice lady”. I should talk, we are now well known for being “those humans with the cheese” and just about every bird in the neighbourhood has been visiting our window ledge to get some of the goodies. Our huge big Currawongs have moved along now and we probably won’t see them till they come back to nest next year so the ravens have moved back in, much to the consternation of the smaller birds that figured they had collectively seen off the Currawongs and had a bit of time for a breather in between big pilfering guzzlers. I can hear a blackbird singing and pretty soon he will be up investigating for more cheese (that I just put out at 5am for them)…I am thinking of taking out shares in the local dairy! 😉

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    1. Hello Fran!! My favorite photo was that one of (you guessed it) Punkin doing a tuck and roll maneuver to outwit Mr. Gambini – who looks a bit stunned! Often I do not see the actual antics until I download my photographs and see what is actually taking place between the two. Just this morning they sat side by side at the food station, big fat butts facing our back door. FD and I cracked up at the hilarity of how “robust” they both have become. Soon they’d had their fill and headed out in separate directions of the woodlands. I think if these were spring squirrels they would be long gone, but because of the cold temps and inability to squirrel away food and build appropriate shelters, they are content with their human parents and their man-made shelters. I guess if Punkin becomes a mother she will send Mr. Gambini away – you know how protective mothers are… and we’ll deal with the family situation on our back porch. It will be spring then and an easier time for them to survive. Yes, you are just as guilty at being that “nice lady” leaving bits of cheese for the Currawongs! LOL I laugh every time you’ve posted a photo of them snagging up a cube of cheese. I am such a cheese lover that it would be VERY hard for me to part with cheese on the account of a bird. Ha ha!! I love the words, “pilfering guzzlers”!! That reminds me of the blue jays here and the grackles and crows. Big bullies, aren’t they? 🙂

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      1. Our ravens were seen off by the Currawongs. They didn’t want anyone muzzling in on their territory so the poor ravens were banished for the fledgeling season and are only just now poking their beaks tentatively back into our garden. I can only begin to imagine how bolshivik Punkin’s babies are going to be! NOTHING will be safe ;). We buy a kilo of cheese a fortnight just for the birds. They are slowing down now as it seems like they use it to get a bit of energy in between hunting out grubs for their babies. There must be a lot of competition for any poor unsuspecting grub that raises it’s grubby head on Serendipity Farm. What with the aerial squadron above and the bolshie chooks below they have NO chance of invading Poland! ;).

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        1. How funny! We have armadillos that dig for grubs here. They root up the ground everywhere. I guess we must have a lot of grubs in the soil. If I find grubs in the flower beds or garden I toss them to the chickens. Oh, that is a lot of cheese… I just love cheese myself and would never share it. Yes, I’m quite sure I won’t share my cheese with birds or mammals… just friends. But I would secretly be hoping they didn’t care much for it so I could have more for myself! 😀

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          1. I adored cheese in my past vegan life and it is one of Steve’s chief staple foods. We buy 3 x 1kg (that’s 6lb) of cheese a fortnight and it is usually gone at the end of that so this house uses a LOT of cheese (and remember, I don’t even eat it now!) We have what the locals call “Pademelons” (Thylogale billardierii) here that rival your armadillos. I would LOVE to see an armadillo in action. They have very strong front legs if my watching the nature channel serves my memory right don’t they? A bit like our echidnas methinks. If I wasn’t vegan, no cheese on this planet would be safe (and I wouldn’t be able to fit through the door either and you would be able to see me on the news being winched out of the roof of our house 😉 )

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          2. Ha ha ha!! What a vision you have given me… good to keep me laughing for hours! I am quite sure that is why I put on weight in the winter months. I’m not as active, but my cheese consumption is a real problem. And of course, dairy is not part of our Paleo lifestyle, but I told FD I could not adhere to the cheese part. I have done my part though… we get Irish cheese and butter since the dairy cows in Ireland are all grass-fed. So, imported cheese it is! I should buy stock in Kerrygold.

            I will take my iPhone with me when I walk to the river sometime and see if I can record an armadillo digging for grubs. I see them quite often, just don’t think to video it. I really need one of those Go-Pro outfits. No telling what kind of nature footage I could get on my walks. I generally see something interesting.

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          3. I would love to see a real armadillo. I am sure they sedate them when you see them on the nature channel. I get the feeling they are MUCH more bolshie in real life, up close and personal ;). A go-pro is a really great idea actually, especially as you could take stills from it as well. Might be a great idea for Christmas? :). All cattle is grass fed in Australia so any Aussie cheese is grass fed.

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          1. Alys rescues or loves squirrels (not sure which!) but I reckon you guys will hit it off as she is a wonderful person like you are and she is MUCH closer to you as well as she lives in California and gardens. Steve said to tell you that he loved the photo of Punkin rolling as well. You are a most talented natural photographer Lori and you capture the mood of the subject amazingly well 🙂

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          2. Well we are sure to hit it off! I looked over a few of her blog posts and decided I needed to become a follower! LOL Like I don’t already have a list a mile long to keep up with, but when you feel that “connection” it is not something you can just turn away from! And, it is no secret that my photography skills are pure luck, with the help of the auto setting and “action” mode much of the time when I’m dealing with wildlife! I about lost it when I saw Punkin’s “tuck and roll” maneuver… I had no idea what I was getting at the time – only that they were tussling over a nut or playing. And of course with the deer, Daisy sets the tone for much of my photography. Because she is calm, the wild deer are more likely to put up with me. I think they are curious about her relationship with a human and so they watch and stare. Even birds of the woodlands land near me if Daisy is present. They all rely on each other to spot danger. Apparently being a deer mother allows me special photography privileges.

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          3. I guess that’s why we get special privilages with our birds? Maybe because we feed them they allow us to get closer than would otherwise be possible. Steve has a particular little grey shrike thrush that lands on his hand to take cheese cubes from him. She has been coming here ever since we moved in and trusts us implicitly where her male partner is much more careful with us. I had quite a relationship with Mr Curry, who would tap on the window at 5am and would hop over to the deck rail and wait for me to deliver his early morning cheese. He would then peck a long stack up in his big pointy beak and would peer into the window as if to say “thanks missus!” and would then fly away to cram it all into his enormous furry squawking baby. I think that by feeding him a bit of extra protein he may not have had to raid so many nests of the other birds around so maybe I was keeping the peace around here. Glad you like Alys’s blog. She has a very kind heart like you do. Steve is looking at upgrading his camera to a Nikon 7100 after Christmas for his 50th and thus I am inheriting his Canon and have NO idea what to do with it as I am a point and click girl. He loves pfaffing around with knobs and things (typical male) and loves Photoshop where I like to see something and take a photo au natural. My photo’s are most probably very basic but at least I get a reasonable shot on the odd occasion to bolster my need to share 🙂

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          4. What model Canon? Mine is a Canon Rebel T1i, but it’s the 100 – 400mm zoom that is my real love. I have other lenses but the zoom is my go-to for wildlife shots. I’m so thankful for the camera and my desktop. Both allow me to create… find an avenue to my soul. I am just like you… I’m easily frustrated with Photoshop (we just have Elements), and prefer to use my photos as they are. There is something to be said for au natural. I also believe animals, birds… all living things read energy. I think they sense who they can trust and what is safe to approach.

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  4. Pure fun to watch these two. Your photos always are exquiisite, and your descriptions are just great. My three squirrel babies still are around, and one adult. They don’t seem to be eating every day — there still were pecans left this afternoon. But they know where they food is, and if it starts to get cold (and the acorns finish) they’ll be fine. Some day when I have some time I want to go down to their trees, and see if I can catch a few photos.

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    1. Do your squirrels still come up to you? I remember when we raised Frosty, we saw him down in the woods for a few weeks before he finally ventured north into the neighbors backyard. We never saw him after that. I’m sure these two will take off before long. They have already spent some of the warmer nights out in the trees. I imagine they will stick around for food all winter long. They are such a delight!

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  5. Loved your post about the antics of those two adorable little rodents. I’ve raised a few in my time and they are very entertaining and as you say can be destructive. Mine never were. Except to be attacked by a newly released male many years ago. Apparently there were no females around. The males will become aggressive just as some young bucks do when raised by humans. I’m not sure the reasons behind all of that. I never looked it up but I learned that it is only the males that become mean. You should write a children’s book about those two. i think it would be a best seller.

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    1. Thank you, Paulette! I think it would be easy to write a book or a small series of books about these two. They sure are a delight to observe and I’m learning a lot. Mr. Gambini won’t let us touch him at all anymore and he’s taken a bite of my finger (no real harm) when he smelled a pecan in my hand! I sure hope he doesn’t get mean, but I have heard that too about male mammals. Punkin is the opposite – she’s so friendly she jumps right at us wanting attention! One day she jumped about two feet and landed on my head!

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      1. Lori, I hate to correct you but I’m Yvonne and I surely do wish that I could write like Paulette. She is a great animal lover as well.

        Punkin jumping on your head would have made a great video. She is a sweetheart for sure.d

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        1. Good gosh! Who knows how my brain works some days! I apologize for my blunder. Yes, I think sometimes I need to do more video now that I have that capability on the iPhone. These two kids keep us well entertained!

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          1. It’s all good, Lori. I’ve made comments on the wrong posts in the past because some of the these folks post every day and after a while it’s very easy to lose track.

            Oh yes- those iPhones are great. But,they are over my head price wise.

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          2. My plan was up for renewal with AT&T (the only service widely available in these rural parts) so I was able to afford the iPhone when my very old Razr crapped out. I had an iPad, so I was used to that technology. I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the shift to an android when I was familiar with an iPad already. I cannot say I’m thrilled with the iPhone as a whole. The audio leaves much to be desired and we have difficulty with good signals out here – trouble I never had with my old Motorola Razr. And already there have been many updates to the Apple products… I fear quality control has gone downhill with the loss of Steve Jobs.

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          3. You are right about all of the phone problems. I keep Verizon because it/they have the best reception although the cost of their phone is expensive., But I care about reception so I have to pay the price or the piper or somebody. 🙂

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          4. Yes, don’t we all? Ha ha! As I mature (get older) audio and function of a device is much more important than “cool and classy”. And I always think it’s just savvy to get the best plan for the best price. We take it in the shorts enough, eh? Have a wonderful holiday, Yvonne!!:)

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  6. I love reading about all of your adopted animals. Your photography is just stunning, too. Seeing the photo of Rowdy was bittersweet for me, too. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Sue! I know you have followed “Daisy’s” story all along, and have been there through the rough patches. I know there will be a day when I can look back at photos of Daisy’s lost babies and not be so emotional. It’s still too fresh… and it’s always been like that for me with my beloved dogs too. Thank you for your lovely comment.

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  7. Hi Lori, With all that entertainment being provided, I am sure it took longer to clean up the porch than you originally anticipated. The porch is going to be very quiet when the squirrels eventually move on.

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    1. Hello Margaret. It is already happening… the last two nights both squirrels took to the woods. This morning we’ve only see Punkin to have something to eat. Generally now, they are coming to eat morning and evening. This is how the “soft” release goes. They come and go until they are comfortable in the woods. We will keep food out for them all winter, since they have not had tome to build a cache as other squirrels do. I am happy this venture has turned out so well! 🙂

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  8. Those two are so entertaining to watch, even if just through pictures! And you certainly capture them “in the moment” of adorable and, (possibly) naughty, haha! Love your photos, and your stories; great post Big Sister!

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