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Posts Tagged ‘squirrel’

I spend a good amount of time looking for unusual subjects to photograph, but I also love to photograph the everyday creatures that inhabit my day-to-day life. I spotted this Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) last Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I cannot tell for sure what the squirrel had in its mouth, but he seemed to consider it a treasure.

I love the pose of the squirrel atop the broken-off tree—there is something dynamic about its somewhat precarious position and in fact the squirrel leap jumped to a nearby tree a few seconds after I snapped this photo. I also really like the curve of the squirrel’s tail that adds a kind of whimsical touch to the image.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was watching an Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it hung upside down and nibbled on the buds of a tree when suddenly its back legs lost their grip. The squirrel was dangling from its front paws only when I snapped this shot.

Initially the squirrel continued to chew on the bud it was holding. Realizing perhaps the precariousness of its position, it eventually stopped eating and successfully scrambled back up into the tree.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was so shocked yesterday morning at Prince William Forest Park to spot a bright white squirrel that my brain froze for a moment—it simply could not process the information transmitted by my eyes. We have black squirrels in the Washington DC area, but I never realized that an Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) could be white.

My first thought was that it might be an albino squirrel, but when I zoomed in, I could see that its eyes are dark. I did a little poking about on the internet and learned that there are white morphs of the gray squirrel that have a rare gene that causes them to be white.

In response to a photo I posted on Facebook, Sue, a retired biology professor who authors the wonderful Backyard Biology blog, reminded me of a post she had written in 2013 entitled “A white shade of tail” that includes a lot of great information on white squirrels.  Who knew, for example, that there are locations in the United States where white squirrels are relatively common? Be sure to check out that posting and other awesome postings on Sue’s site, where she freely shares her accumulated knowledge, current observations, and beautiful images. (She is special to me too because she was one of the first subscribers to this blog almost seven years ago.)

I suspected that the white squirrel would be skittish, so I took a series of shots from a distance. As I anticipated, when I took a step forward, the squirrel scampered away.

At first glance, I thought all my photos were the same, but when I looked more closely, I saw that they captured different facial expressions. I try to look at my subjects as individuals and not merely as representatives of their species. The cute little expressions in these images remind me of the individual personality of this unusual little creature.

white squirrel

white squirrel

white squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Greens for breakfast? It’s not what I would choose, but it’s what was on the menu for an Eastern Gray Squirrel early this morning at Huntley Meadows Park. The squirrel paused for only a second, so I didn’t have much time to frame the shot. I like the result and this was a rare occasion when I did not need to crop the image at all.

As for my breakfast choices, I think I will stick with my usual oatmeal.

Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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An Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was scampering across an open area at Green Spring Gardens last week. Suddenly it stopped, got up in its hind legs and turned to me with a half-smile. I think it was deliberately posing for me, so I took this shot.

The squirrel was so tall and upright in this pose that it looked like it was simply going out for a casual two-legged morning stroll through the garden, like so many of the people that were passing by us.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Would you stop to watch a squirrel as it nibbled on a branch or would you move on in search of more exciting wildlife? I love trying to capture the beauty in the ordinary and spent quite some time recently observing and photographing this Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) at Huntley Meadows Park.

Although the tree looks kind of dead, I think that the squirrel spotted a fresh bud on the end of the branch and decided to chew on it for a little while. Normally a squirrel has its head down when feeding and it was nice to be able to get this shot with its neck extended. The little reflection in its eye was a bonus.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was cool and cloudy early yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park and there was not much activity. Perhaps the birds and animals stayed up to welcome the new year and were sleeping late.

This Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) was a notable exception—he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. In the midst of all of his activity, he paused for a few seconds to look in my direction and I was able to capture this modest little portrait of the squirrel.

I didn’t take any spectacular shots yesterday morning, none that are likely to make my list of favorites for 2016. I don’t feel disappointed, however, because I really enjoy taking photos of ordinary creatures and trying to capture a sense of their personalities. From that perspective, my new year of photography has already been a success.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When you happen to catch sight of a squirrel, do you just keep walking? I love to watch squirrels. They are so energetic and industrious, traits that I admire in humans as well.

Last week, this Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) at Huntley Meadows Park seemed to be posing for me and we had our own little portrait session. The squirrel made many minor adjustments to its body position to provide mw with a lot of different looks. Towards the end of our photo shoot, the squirrel had to take a short break.

Sometimes when you have an itch, you just have to scratch it, as you can see in the final image.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On a beautiful spring-like morning, even the squirrels in my suburban townhouse neighborhood today looked amazingly photogenic.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Taking advantage of yesterday’s gorgeous springtime weather, this little Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) took a break from his chores to enjoy a snack and to bask in the warmth of the sun for a few moments.

squirrel2_spring_blogsquirrel1_spring_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Despite the frigid cold and snow, the squirrels in my neighborhood are out and active (and looking surprisingly cute).

squirrel_snow_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The squirrels in my neighborhood are very busy now as they scurry about getting ready for winter. This particular Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) paused several times to enjoy a leisurely snack. Rather than devour the treat on the ground, he would leap up onto this posing stand and delicately nibble away. He almost seemed to be aware that I was photographing him and periodically would change his pose to give me a different look.

I guess that I lucked into photographing a squirrel with modeling experience (and great hair).

Squirrel Nut blogSquirrel Nut 2 blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although this looks like a fall shot, with the faded leaves still on the trees and the squirrel gathering materials to insulate his nest, I took the photo this past weekend.

When I first saw the squirrel, I couldn’t figure out what he had in his mouth, but I could see that it was bigger than the acorns on which I usually see squirrels gnawing. With our recent cold weather, I thought that perhaps the squirrel had become an omnivore and had snatched up a field mouse or other such creature to supplement his diet.

The reality is much more benign. It looks like he is merely gathering materials for his nest. According to Wikipedia, one of the breeding seasons for the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) runs from December to February. It is likely that the activity that I photographed is related to preparations for the potentially imminent arrival of baby squirrels, which normally are born in February or March (or May to June).

squirrel_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Another squirrel photo? In the past few months I have posted a number of photos of Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis). yet I  continue to attempt to photograph them whenever I can. Each time, the light is different, the environment is different, and the squirrel is different.

I really like the colors in this photo, the shades of brown and red, especially the way the brown-red surrounding the squirrel’s eyes is repeated in the exposed wood of the branch. I also like the unique characteristics of this squirrel, his cute pose and his little notched ear.

Another squirrel? I’m sure that squirrels will be featured again in my blog. In my suburban lifestyle, many days they may be my only link to nature.

Squirrel in tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Have you ever looked at your photos and realized that you captured two very different species in similar poses?

When I was reviewing my photos from this morning, I realized that a White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) and an Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) had each assumed the same pose as I photographed them. Strangely enough, they happened to be on the same tree at slightly different times.

I like how the lightness of the background matches the coloration of the bird. It wasn’t that long ago that I saw my first nuthatch, and I continue to be amazed by their acrobatic behavior and incredible flexibility. Imagine trying to hold yourself in a position like this!

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

The squirrel seems to be hyper-focused and intense, scanning his surroundings and ready to move at the sign of any danger. There are only a limited number of colors in this photo and I like it so much that I considered posting it separately with a title of Study in Gray and Brown.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

The poses of the two wild creatures are similar, but their individual characteristics and the different color palettes of the two photos give each of the two images a distinctive feel.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you ever find that you totally missed a cool element of a photograph during initial review because the element was not near the center of the image? Today I looked over some squirrel shots from a week and a half ago and realized that the photo of a squirrel perched on the trunk of a tree was a whole lot more interesting than I had previously thought.

Hide and seek

Hide and seek

My attention had been so drawn to the downward-facing squirrel (is that a yoga pose?) that I didn’t even notice the squirrel in the upper right corner, peering out from inside the hollow tree. That squirrel is so cute that I enlarged the corner of the photo so you can appreciate its cuteness even more.

Cute squirrel

Cute squirrel

By itself, the cute squirrel would have been worth posting, but in combination with the other squirrel, it’s a really fun image.

The lesson learned for me is that I need to look at my photos more carefully during my first review or take the time to look at them later a second time with fresh eyes.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The photos in yesterday’s postings about Black Vultures were dark and gloomy and perhaps a little creepy. Today I am going to the opposite end of the spectrum with photos of a squirrel that are warm and cute.

I took these first two shots just outside of my house. Watching this squirrel through my kitchen window as he was digging in the grass, uncovering an acorn, I decided to try to take his photo. When I appeared, he slowly climbed up a tree and found a comfortable spot to enjoy his treat. The first image, my favorite, shows him posing before eating. I really like the effect of the light coming in from the side. The second one shows a more serious side as he seems to have adopted a more dignified pose.

squirrel1_blog

squirrel2_blog

Earlier in the morning yesterday I watched as two squirrels chased each other around—I think at least one of them had amorous intentions. Part of the time they went in an out of a hollow remnant of a tree. They would enter the tree at ground level and come out of the side of the tree. Here are a couple of photos of one of the squirrels as he vainly searches for his playmate.

squirrel3_blog

squirrel4_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Gray squirrel on my backyard fence

Squirrels always seem full of energy. They run around much  of the time gathering food and for enjoyment chase after each other with the reckless abandon of children. It’s fun sometimes just to watch them in their frenetic activity as I was doing one afternoon this past weekend from the inside of my house. One Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) seemed to especially enjoy running along the top of my fence. When he tired a little, he slumped down on the fence with his tail sticking up. I grabbed my camera and carefully made my way outdoors and was able to capture his pose. I like how it turned out, with the different shades of gray, green, and brown in both the foreground and the background. The squirrel’s pose suggests that he is still very alert, even if he is relaxing a little.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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After two days that were heavily overcast, we finally had some sunshine yesterday, although the day started out below freezing.A light sheet of ice covered then pond where I have been photographing ducks and geese, and they had all disappeared.

Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) were very active, though, taking advantage of the weather to scamper about and gather food. It was fun to watch them run around, sometimes chasing each other like little kids playing a game of tag. I came upon this squirrel on a broken off limb, enjoying a snack. He was high enough up in the tree that he did not seemed to feel threatened by my presence.

There was some beautiful lighting from the side and the back that illuminated his underside when he turned in certain directions. My first few shots were really overexposed. If this had been a human subject, I might have tried using some flash to add some light, but that did not seem to be the right thing to do for a squirrel out on a limb. So I intentionally underexposed the image, blowing out the background (which was mostly sky, so it wasn’t a problem). I recaptured a little of the sky’s color in post-processing and played with the settings to try to bring out the texture and color of the squirrel’s fur. I guess that I never realized before that the fur is not a solid gray, but is a mixture of lighter and darker hairs.

I especially like how the light hits the upper portion of one of his ears and the tip of his bushy tail. The reddish brown tones of the wood also help to bring out the colors of his face.  It was nice to have a cooperative, photogenic subject.

Out on a limb

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Backlighting adds drama and glamor, even when the subject is as ordinary as a squirrel.

I was almost done shooting photos today when I decided to try to capture a few images of squirrels. Usually they are too quick for me and I often end up with blurry photos. As I approached a squirrel, he climbed a tree and I stopped and waited to see if he would climb higher. Instead, he climbed out onto a tiny branch, offering me a profile shot with beautiful backlighting. I love the glow around the face and tail and the warmth of the light showing though the squirrel’s ear. Even the bokeh is nice.

Even a squirrel can look glamorous, under the right conditions.

Squirrel glamor shot

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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