Red squirrels will scatter when you approach but when they’re eating they often choose to stay put as this one did. He had the whole place to himself and was taking full advantage.
In mid summer, the living is easy for animals in our local reserve. At least it’s easier for this red squirrel than it is now with the approach of winter. The squirrels were busy in the fall hiding their winter provisions. This along with people feeding them, will help them make do until spring.
It’s nearly fall and time to get busy collecting food for the approaching winter. This squirrel was taking time out for a quick snack. Under the feeder the ground is littered with spent sunflower seeds. Occasionally though an intact seed falls to the ground for the lucky few.
A bit late for a Groundhog Day post and too early to spot one out of its den. Groundhogs hibernate until March or April in our climate. No friend to farmers or gardeners as their burrowing can do serious damage and they like to feed off crops. They are cute rodents though and are funny when they freeze in plain sight as this one did.
This cute little rodent is a relative of the mouse and is commonly called a vole or field mouse. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen and I was able to take a number of photographs as he was unaware of or unconcerned by my presence. He might have been a young animal that had not yet developed a sense of fear. I watched him for a while and then left him to his ramble.
We saw more red squirrels last year than usual. They’re feisty, will often stand their ground with people and tend to chase the larger grey squirrels out of their territory. What they lack in size they make up for in temperament. We’ve had a prolonged period of extreme cold lately and you have to marvel at the toughness of these little creatures.
Cottontails are known to come out at twilight or once it’s dark when it’s safer for them to feed, although I spot them during the day from time to time. Cottontails are solitary and territorial and I’ve never seen more than one at any one time. I approached this rabbit slowly. He was curious but didn’t seem wary of me. I took a quick photo and left him to the spring grass.
Before the snow arrived in mid-December there were still pine cones and seeds for the taking. Between storing food for the winter ahead, this eastern grey squirrel stopped for a bite. The trees were bare and provided little colour to warm the scene. I liked the way the black and white treatment brought out the detail and texture.
The first photo was taken in the fall and the second barely a month later; the landscape changes rapidly with the seasons. Red squirrels can be found all year long and seem to shadow you in the winter when food is scarce. In the photo below the squirrel found the seeds that someone had left and stayed put as I approached. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I took this photo and then left him to his meal.
They are our smallest squirrels and yet the most assertive of the lot. It’s funny to see red squirrels chase the larger greys around the park. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re territorial or they just enjoy it. Maybe it’s a bit of both. This little guy was giving me the eye, I blinked first and moved along.
When I get out early enough I often catch the passing parade of people walking their pets. Usually dogs, sometimes a cat or two , and even the occasional ferret. When they’re not being walked you often see them waiting for their owners to return as is the case in these photographs. Dogs tend to look alert and baleful, while cats look rather cool and collected.
We’ve seen more chipmunks than usual this summer. Two reasons for this I imagine – their food sources are plentiful and we’ve seen fewer of their natural enemies in the woods, hawks and owls. This little guy was enjoying a snack and judging from his full cheeks hadn’t finished consuming an earlier one.
Raccoons will eat practically anything, in this case the raccoon was eating some feed that had been left for the birds and squirrels. He was having a fine time of it as we approached along the trail. I have never encountered a raccoon this close up before or one so well fed and relaxed. He ate happily and only left when someone else came along.
I came across this rabbit as he was feeding on winter grass that was slowly coming back to life. We spotted each other at about the same time. As I was moving quietly and gave him plenty of space he watched me for a few moments and then went back to his meal. I took a few photos and then left him to it.
It was mid March last year when I took this photo. A long winter was drawing to a close and more people were out in the woods enjoying the milder weather and bearing gifts for the locals. This squirrel was enjoying the bounty and neither this photographer nor any competition was going to move him along.
Both of these squirrels are well represented in our woods. The red squirrel looked like a young one, relaxed as he ate his snack. Maybe he thought I couldn’t see him with the branches providing a bit of cover. The black eastern grey squirrels are more common here than the grey variety and he was more on the alert than the red.
Like many kids growing up, I loved The “Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. This gentle looking meadow vole reminded me of this childhood favourite. We stood and watched as it munched its way along the lakefront, not giving us a second look. We were lucky to see one as they’re mainly active at night.
Red squirrels are shyer than grey squirrels except in winter when food is scarce. They watch you closely as you walk along hoping for a snack. I had nothing with me that day and felt kind of badly as I did my rounds. Someone ahead of me had left a trail of seeds and nuts though and it wasn’t long before the squirrel was eating his fill.
We came upon this cottontail in a less travelled area of the park. They usually freeze in place when they see us (which this one did) or run away. The rabbit must have been pretty pleased with this patch of grass because he held his ground. We took a few photographs and then left him to his lunch.
By this time in May we usually see a lot of young birds in the woods and on the water. Given the below normal temperatures in our area and heavy spring flooding the natural cycle has been delayed by a few weeks. Squirrels don’t seem to have been effected though as we’ve some young about. This young squirrel wasn’t scared off by my presence. He kept an eye on me but held his ground (and his nut) while I photographed him. I took a few shots and then I left him to it.
The path we were on led to a field bordered by some underbrush. While looking around, this Cottontail appeared. At first it froze in place and then not bothered by our presence continued feeding; glancing in our direction from time to time. I thought it must have been rather young and trusting to react this way. I took a few shots before he decided to move along.
I’ve featured black eastern grey squirrels before. They’re particularly attractive subjects in the fall with the autumn leaves as backdrop. These squirrels are usually skittish. Although he kept a watchful eye on me, nothing was going to disturb him from his snack. As winter was fast approaching and food was harder to come by every bite counted.
Occasionally we come across eastern cottontails on our walks. The first photo was taken in a wildlife garden. I startled the rabbit as he was eating, it looks like he was trying to hide behind the flower, not too successfully though. I managed to take a shot before he ran off. The rabbit in the second photo looks like a young one. He’s up early, the morning dew is still on the grass. When the sunlight hits their ears they light up like beacons. I just love that!
The red squirrels had a good year at the reserve and we saw more of them than in the past. They are smaller than the eastern greys but what they lack in size they make up for in temperament. They often chase the larger squirrels around; are known to be feisty and very territorial. These squirrels make for fine subjects particularly in the fall when the woods wear a similar colour to their own.
I think this groundhog noticed me before I saw him. He was half in his burrow and kept a wary eye on me as I walked along. I see them quite often within the city limits, in open fields and in public gardens. Groundhogs dig deep burrows and one misplaced step can land you on their doorstep. I can well understand that farmers and gardeners consider them pests as they graze on vegetables and crops and can leave the ground weak where they tunnel. However, not being either, I rather like them. It all depends on your perspective I guess. They are also one of Canada’s true hibernators, fattening up in the fall and hibernating when the temperatures dip.
There’s a large tree in the reserve which the local raccoons have claimed as their own. On hot summer days we’ve seen them stretched out on the limbs of the tree, waiting for the hint of a breeze. Clever animals, as we push our way through the humid air… The light on the raccoon and tree trunk were very harsh. A few adjustments in Lightroom to the exposure, highlights, contrast and shadows corrected this.
These photos were taken within a few days of each other. The brown hues of late fall turned to a white snowscape very quickly this month. These eastern grey squirrels are sporting thick coats and look alert and well fed as they make their rounds of the park. At times you get the sense that you’re being watched as you walk along the trail. Chances are it’s one of these squirrels, as they’re everywhere you look.
The photograph above was taken in March of this year, we had a late spring and the squirrel stands out against the wintery backdrop. The other two photographs were taken in early October before the vegetation had taken on its fall appearance. We’ve had some cold weather the last few days so I haven’t been keen on heading out with my camera. As we’re supposed to get some sun in the next day or two, I’ll get myself fitted up and check on these little guys and see what else is going on in the woods.