Despite the cold, this time of year has its advantages. It’s easier to spot the locals. 😏
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The woods around us boast two species of squirrels: the red squirrel and the eastern grey squirrel, both grey and black varieties (pictured below). With the cold weather settling in it’s a busy time for them. They’re out in force collecting food for the long winter ahead. The sound of the squirrels scurrying through the woods can even muffle the birdsong that we’re straining to hear.