SO far this week the score on the walnut tree board is Millie 3 - Squirrels 7. Millie, our little Jack Russell has succumbed to her autumnal obsession, guarding our big walnut tree from the seasonal squirrel onslaught.

For the squirrels it is a well-honed attack technique. They approach via the branches of nearby trees, but need to make a final dash across a patch of open ground to reach their target. They race high up into the branches, but then face the dilemma of having to get back.

Millie may be bamboozled by their approach, but she knows if she waits under the tree, their exit points are limited. It is then that she has triumphed. If, however, the squirrels team up, their multiple exits confuse her and she is left in a demented, yapping, dervish whirl of frustration.

But the squirrels have been aided these last few weeks by the high winds, courtesy of Storms Aileen and Brian. An aside. As a nation apparently, we take more notice and prepare more effectively for storm damage if an approaching storm is given a name.

Psychology eh? But thanks mostly to Brian, coming as he did when the tree was laden with ripe walnuts, the grass around its trunk is strewn with fallen nuts. A squirrel bonanza.

Disaster for Millie as there is simply too much territory for her to defend and not enough time to do it in. After all there are rats to check on in the grain shed and under the hen hut.

The high winds have also been causing John concern with his game keeping duties. The pheasants are now quite bold when leaving the safety of their fenced, vermin proof enclosure at daybreak. And John has been feeding them in neighbouring plantations to encourage them to roam more widely across the fields and game crops.

If startled, however, when there are high winds, the young birds can fly off and become disorientated and even, horrors, end up on neighbouring shoots land. The only hope then is that another shoots birds have become equally confused and bewildered about where their home roost is and take up residence in the lost birds pens. I have an image nationally of a sort of vacuum effect of birds being blown and sucked by the winds from one shoot to the next.

Fortunately the winds seem to have also blown some of the aerial predators away too. “The birds are much more confident now about feeding in the open” John told me, “If there were any predators about I don’t think they would be leaving the plantations so much.” Blow wind blow.