Arghhh! Squirrels have discovered strawberries!
I was thinking it could be mice eating the berries along the outside of the row (covered with hoops and 1" bird netting). But I saw a squirrel sitting there the other evening and I realized that was the culprit. DH asked me if I wanted to put out a trap but I said no, the berries are almost over for the season. It was there last night too and he chased it away. But this morning as I was making strawberry jam, I saw it again, ran out, had to do it a second time, and the 3rd time as the jam was in the canner I glanced out the kitchen window and saw FOUR squirrels stationed at various points along the row! Of course chased them off but found lots of caps (no puree) along the stone wall - NOW they're eating the green berries!
They figured out that if they push on the netting, they can reach the berries along the edge (even after I got wise and started pushing ripening berries toward the center of the row as I picked and re-covered). One as even sitting on top of the netting and eating berries in the middle of the row that happened to be near the top (about 3" away from the netting, but there's enough give that its weight can get it right down to the berries).
May be too late for this year, but before I renovate and expand, what can I do to keep them out next year? I was thinking chicken wire but that has some give too, and I need to be able to easily uncover the row(s) at least once a day to pick. Would they smell the berries and chew right through floating row cover? So far they haven't made any holes in the plastic netting.