Squirrels in my yard

The thaws and freezes have been tough on the squirrels, which my wife feeds. Normally this time of year they would be in a squirrel equivalent of hibernation tucked into their nests. The sunshine and promise of peanuts has drawn them out. Roughly six squirrels live in the neighborhood. But the peanuts also bring out blue jays, crows, and associated predators.

(Click on the image to bring up the full view. It helps)


One eating and another looking for a peanut.

All images were shot on my Nikon D5000 with the 18-105mm lens, ISO 500, Exposure +0.5 to +1.0, shutter speed 1/500 to 1/750. Aperture ranged from 5.6 to 11. The over exposure was to compensate for the bright snow.

In hindsight, I should have dropped the ISO lower to decrease the aperture. A little too much depth of field to focus on the squirrels. But it was about 20F outside and I was in pants, slippers, and a short sleeve shirt. I did get a knit hat after a while, but not enough time to get a coat. Cold does not bother me much, but my fingers started to stiffen up a bit after a while.

Two squirrels eating peanuts

Two squirrels eating peanuts

This shot was heavily cropped. I do have a longer lens, but didn’t have time to put it on. There were three squirrels eating here on the tree and tree house, but one took off while I was getting into position.

Spooked squirrel heading to safer parts

Spooked squirrel heading to safer parts

A moment later, I spooked the squirrel in the crotch of the tree and got it in the act of jumping. The D5000 doesn’t have a great burst rate. I’ve been lucky, like here. But usually don’t get them unless its carefully timed. As an aside, I always leave my camera on burst and have been using the back focus button for these shots. It helps get proper composition before the shot.

Under the tree, on watch and eating.

Under the tree, on watch and eating.

Even with a +0.5 exposure compensation the squirrels were too dark. Had to blow out much of the shot to get them properly exposed. Also heavily cropped the image to remove the excess highlights. There is a  third squirrel here too, but it had just jumped behind the tree. I do have an image with it, but it was crap. It looked like Siamese squirrels with the overlap.

In the act of jumping.

In the act of jumping.

Again a longer lens would have worked well. There are several cats, dogs and hawks in the area. So the squirrels tend to travel via tree and power lines. This one was heading to the neighbors roof. I think the house has holes that the squirrels enter into the house through. The landlords are one step from slum lords. Nice tenets though.

At 1/750 its still too slow to fully stop the leaping squirrel.

At 1/750 its still too slow to fully stop the leaping squirrel.

Looks like I should have gone to at least 1/1000 or more to fully stop this squirrel. It was in the act of leaping about 3 feet to head out to another branch and then nearby roof.

At this point, my impromptu photo shoot was done. Less than 5 minutes elapsed and all the squirrels had eaten their fill and taken off to safer grounds.

Comments and followers are always welcome.



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About CameraChemist

Biochemist by training and photography enthusiast by nature. Posts are based on my own work to avoid copyright issues. But frequently the inspiration for the post is something I've recently read. In those cases, I link to the original article if I can.

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