Anthropomorphic Meanderings on Gray Squirrels
Last Saturday I headed out to Shaw Nature Reserve a little before daylight and walked out to the bluff over the Meramec River in search of some early-rising warblers on their northward journey. The warblers didn’t cooperate but I enjoyed the gorgeous view and saw several other birds, including a couple of red-bellied woodpeckers preparing a nest. I stuck around for a few hours, most of which I spent chasing brown creepers as they ascended in their usual spiral fashion up the trunks of white oak trees. I have a few images of a brown creeper but I’m looking for the perfect shot of that species, or at least as close to perfect as I can get. I finally gave up on both warblers and the perfect shot of a brown creeper and started hiking back toward the Maritz House. I was feeling slightly dejected about the photographic part of my morning but deep down I knew that based on past experience, I’d never make it out of Shaw Nature Reserve without a nice shot.
When I arrived at the Maritz House I met a friendly couple from St. Louis and we talked about some of the finer things in life, such as prothonotary warblers and cedar waxwings. I wished them well on the rest of their hike and began to look around in the adjacent woods for anything that moved. It wasn’t long before a little gray squirrel poked its head out of a cavity and began watching me with what appeared to be curiosity. Curiosity is mostly a human characteristic, I suppose, but I’m pretty sure that some animals possess it as well. I found the best vantage point between the sun and the squirrel and started capturing images of furry little people-watcher.
As I observed the squirrel observing me through the lens, I thought to myself, “I wish something more interesting would happen here because I already posted a squirrel poking its head out of a hole a few months ago.” Right about that time, another gray squirrel pushed its head out of the hole and rested its chin on the first! “Well how about that!” I said to myself, and redoubled my efforts to get a nice shot by increasing my f/stop for depth of field and concentrating more on long lens technique, e.g. smashing my face against the viewfinder to dampen vibration.
If it were not enough that I had two gray squirrels posing for the camera from the same hole, things even got better a few minutes later when one of the squirrels emerged with a piece of turtle shell, obviously showing off its new treasure. Okay, I’m not quite that anthropomorphic but I almost laughed out loud when the little guy stuck its head out of the hole with that turtle shell. I don’t know what squirrels would use a turtle shell for; it certainly wouldn’t enhance a nest, but this one appeared pretty proud of its find. Later at lunch I wondered out loud what the squirrel might be doing with the shell and Joyce said, “Oh, its just a toy he found.” I told her she was worse than me! I suppose the ancient Greeks would have been proud of both of us.
Thanks for looking,
Two Squirrels in a Hole: Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/250 sec @ f/8.0; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Converted and processed in Canon DPP
Squirrel with a Turtle Shell: Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 Lens with 1.4 TC; 1/200 sec @ f/7.1; ISO 400; RAW Capture; Converted and processed in Canon DPP