Eastern Gray Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I looked out of my window yesterday afternoon, peaking between the blinds, and saw a squirrel on the maple branch above me. He appeared to be eating the maple blossoms…I have been watching the maple blossoms since they were just tiny red beads on the branch tips. Maple blossoms are one of my favorite things about spring. They are so beautiful, and so unlikely. I suspect the vast majority of Americans do not know that maples flower, and certainly do not know how beautiful the flowers are. Our blossoms are not quite ready to open into full flowers yet, but they have made a lot of progress the past few days. I certainly did not expect to see the squirrels eating them. A google peruse this morning shows that it is common behavior…to the extent that are recommended “cures” to keep squirrels from decimating ornamental maples in folk’s yards. We have so many maple trees here in Southern Maine, and even in our yard, that it would take a plague of squirrels of biblical proportions (as they say) to do much damage. Much as I appreciate maple flowers, if the squirrels prefer them to my sunflower seeds in season, I say “let them eat flowers!” Anyway, I got my camera and spent a while watching and photographing the squirrel getting into all kinds of greedy postures among the maple blossoms. Each of these three shots tells its own story, and together they tell a tale. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 400, 250, and 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Grey Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Great light, engaging squirrel…what could go wrong? I was in my backyard photo blind (a chair blind I put out when I need it, and take down when I don’t), and the squirrel was certainly aware I was in there. He or she was not threatened enough to do more than aggressively posture…but posture he or she did. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 250 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Red Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — another look at destructive captain of cute…the Red Squirrel that visited our deck a few days ago. I have not seen it since so maybe it was just out scouting for territory on that particularly warm February day. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Taken through double glazed glass. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th. +1 EV exposure compensation.
Red Squirrel: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I know Red Squirrels are not good neighbors…ounce for ounce one of the most potentially destructive of creatures, at least as far as human property goes, but I have to admit to still liking to see them in the yard. They are just so cute, and mischievous with it…it is hard not to enjoy them…at least while they are not actively undermining the foundations or eating their way into the attic. This one was out for an early forage in the 40 degree weather yesterday and spent a half hour or so in our yard and on our deck among the feeders, cleaning up spilled seed and trying just about every way it could think of to get into the feeders…without success so far, but I have my eye on it. Sony Rx10iv at 189mm equivalent. Taken through double glazed deck doors. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 640 @ f4 @ 1/400th.
Eastern Grey Squirrel, Kennebunk, Maine. I was taking photos of the birds out my back deck door, standing in the open slide, when this squirrel hopped up on the rail and came pretty much right up to me. This was taken at about 3 feet. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 400 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
I think squirrels are cute…but that does not mean I give them a free pass when it comes to raiding my bird feeders. I have invested in a set of “squirrel proof” feeders and suet cages that, for the most part, defeat the squirrels’ attempts at criminal trespass. That does not mean they don’t try, several times a day, sometimes once an hour. The idea of all that food, right there in easy view, is evidently just too much for them, even when past experience has proven that they can’t get at it. It is entertaining to watch them, and I don’t mind anything they take from the ground under the feeders, even when I scatter seed for the sparrows. If it is on the ground it is fair game. This mother squirrel is one of the pack of 3 or 4 who come to our yard every day. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
The Grey Squirrels use my bird feeder setup near my photo blind as a jungle gym. All my feeders are, at least to the extent possible given modern technology, squirrel proof, and they have not yet solved the problems presented, so my seed is, for the moment, safe…but that does not stop them from trying. This squirrel is already, by the look of it, getting plenty to eat, so it can just leave my seed for the birds, thank you very much. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I was walking on the boardwalk through the maple swamp at the Wells National Estuarine Research Center at Laudholm Farms yesterday, and I thought, “this is just about where I saw the Red Squirrel last year.” And just like magic, there was a Red Squirrel on the boardwalk doing just exactly what the Red Squirrel was doing last year…picking up and eating the the little whirlygig seeds of the Red Maple. Once more, the squirrel allowed me to approach quite closely…I worked my way a few feet at a time to within 12 feet of it, before it turned to challenge me and then scampered off.
I knew, while taking the pictures, that there was something odd about the squirrel…or out of the ordinary anyway. Last year the squirrel had a wound on its nose below the eye on one side. This year it was an obviously nursing mother squirrel, taking a break from nest duty to enjoy the maple bounty. You can’t see the nipples in this shot, but in other they are clearly visible.
Sony RX10iii at 840mm equivalent field of view (600mm optical plus an in-camera crop to 10mp for the extra reach.) 1/250th @ ISO 125 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom. The difference in clarity and detail between this photo and the those I took with the Nikon P900 last year is obvious at anything larger than screen view 🙂 and it is pretty clear even here.
This is another shot of the Red Squirrel from my encounter last week in Alewive Woods. You can see how unhappy he is to have me visit by the blurring of his agitated tail. Sure sign!
Nikon P900 at 1100mm equivalent field of view. 1/50th @ ISO 800 @ f5.6. Processed in Lightroom.
I told the story of this Red Squirrel, which I encountered on my hike into Alewive Pond on Thursday, in today’s Year Poem (which I will append here for your viewing pleasure :).
The photo is with the Nikon P900 at 1100mm equivalent field of view. 1/60th @ ISO 800 @ f5.6. Processed in Lightroom.
And the poem.
The red squirrel paralleled me
100 years along the trail,
always three threes ahead,
but with one eye solid on me.
Eventually he found a perch
on a branch, oh, twice my height,
just where the trail turns,
to sit safe and sass me as only
a Red Squirrel can sass…tail
arched high, little paws, tiny
claws clenched, every ounce
of his ten, behind the eye
that glared, that dared me
to do my worst!
Little did he know I had
my camera ready to
record his heroic posturing,
or that his antics would
be exposed on the internet
for all the world to see.
So there, Mr. Red Squirrel,
we humans can sass too.