Muskrats swim quickly and like to dive, particularly when they have an audience. I saw this one on an early April morning enjoying a solitary swim.
I haven’t returned to the reserve where this was taken at all this year. There are just too many people. In looking through my folders, I came upon this photo I took a few years ago. We usually see a few muskrats each summer and that year was no exception. They can be tricky subjects as their wet fur often reflects odd colours.
As I was leaving a store, this sight greeted me across the street. This lot was pretty relaxed but I still was impressed at the way the dog walker handled all the dogs at once.
I grew up with a West Highland Terrier and can never resist stopping to have a look at one or take a photo if my camera is handy.
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.
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.
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.
Walking along in the Ottawa market area, a crowd was gathered around a very small convertible. As we approached we could see why. This wonderful Great Dane sat calmly in the front seat waiting for his owner to finish his shopping. The dog was riding in style on this pleasant November day. Once the snow arrives he’ll have to hit the pavement again, being way too big to fit in this tiny car.
The cat was a perfect advertisement for this animal groomer. It sat so still that at first I wasn’t certain if it was a figurine or real. It was staring straight ahead and ignored me completely as I set up the shot, a very cooperative subject. As the weather cools off and many birds head south I plan to do more street photography. I get to practice using my Fuji and there’s always a warm coffee shop close by!
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.
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.
It was a warm day in September and a street festival was going on in the neighbourhood. This women and her dog were taking a break from the heat. She was distracted by her phone but the dog’s attention was undivided. I love spotting people out with their pets enjoying the city and each other’s company and I always keep an eye out for scenes like this.
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.
The air was cool but the sun was nice and warm and the painted turtles were out in force. In this sheltered little bay every log was host to crowds of turtles. The spring melt has flooded parts of the park and we had to wade through shin high water to get to the little bridge that overlooked the turtles. What a sight they were for winter weary eyes.
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.
I took these photos last summer when everything was lush and green and the turtles were basking in the sun. Right now they are hibernating at the bottom of the lake and won’t resurface until late spring. Smart turtles! Painted turtles are common here in Ontario and share the lake with snapping turtles and the occasional blanding’s turtle. Painted turtles can be rather shy and slip into the water as you pass them but not these two on that day.
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.
Some squirrels in the reserve are quite tame, on alert for handouts. They’ll hold their ground as you approach them on the path in anticipation of a treat. Others will freeze in place hoping you won’t see them. I think this young squirrel wasn’t sure where he stood, hiding in plain sight.
Frogs make excellent subjects, on land or in the water. Sometimes they blend in so well that you might only notice one if it jumps and catches your eye. The Leopard Frog in the first photo, didn’t make any sudden moves, I only noticed it when I was trying to track the flight of an insect. The second photo was taken before a recent rain, when these green frogs were easier to spot because the water was so shallow. I like the spider “tattoo” on its cheek.
There’s a platform off the water that provides an excellent view of the goings on at the reserve. Given the drought in our area the water level is low and the painted turtles are easier to spot as they swim around. In the first photo the turtle seemed to be treading water. I’ve never noticed one in that position before. I spotted the second turtle further along the trail. He was a fine looking example, his shell and claws quite striking. But what a grump!
With all the summertime visitors to our area we tend to forget the true denizens of the forest. Although there are a few species of birds that remain year round, you don’t need to go far to spot a squirrel in any season. We haven’t seen any raptors in the reserve this summer (the largest bird we’ve spotted is one lonely turkey) so the squirrels are running free. I took this shot in low light so I raised the ISO but the speed never got above 1/40sec. Exposure and shadow adjustments in Lightroom and noise reduction software in Macphun made the photo come to life.