Revisiting The Mercur Canyon Rock Squirrel

/, Rock Squirrels, Tooele County, Utah, West Desert/Revisiting The Mercur Canyon Rock Squirrel

Rock Squirrel sunning on a rockRock Squirrel sunning on a rock – Nikon D500, f11, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was in the West Desert canyons again yesterday looking for birds and although I found some most of them were too far away to get high quality images. I saw a large band of Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays I would have loved to have photographed but they stayed out of the reach of my lens. They sure were noisy!

While up in Mercur Canyon I caught a flash of browns and grays on top of a rock and realized I was seeing the Rock Squirrel I photographed on the same slope last month. At first the squirrel was sunning itself on top of a rock and I took quite a few photos of it there.

Rock Squirrel on a rocky slopeRock Squirrel on a rocky slope – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then the Rock Squirrel became more active and started to move on the slope to other locations. While watching the squirrel I saw a few areas with mounds of dirt under the rocks that might be entrances to its burrow but the squirrel didn’t approach the entrances.

Rock Squirrel on lichen covered rocksRock Squirrel on lichen covered rocks – Nikon D500, f8, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This is my favorite image of the series of photos I took of the Rock Squirrel yesterday because I can see the whole length of the squirrel, I have lovely eye contact, the light was beautiful, plenty of fine details show in the coat of the squirrel and its surroundings plus the lichens on the rocks add lots of visual interest.

Adult Rock Squirrel in Mercur CanyonAdult Rock Squirrel in Mercur Canyon – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The squirrel moved over talus slopes and boulders and would stop often to look around. It may have been looking for predators from the sky, I know there are a couple pairs of Red-tailed Hawks in the vicinity plus Golden Eagles in the canyon too.

Alert Rock SquirrelAlert Rock Squirrel – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The squirrel moved up the slope and over the lichen encrusted rocks. There were times I’d lose it when it went under the junipers growing there or when it went behind the rocks but it kept popping back into view as it scurried along.

Rock Squirrel on a large boulderRock Squirrel on a large boulder – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The squirrel didn’t seem to be foraging for food so I am not quite sure what it was doing. I was happy to photograph it where ever it went though and I was pleased with all of the different settings I have in these photos.

Rock Squirrel up a hill on a lichen covered boulderRock Squirrel up a hill on a lichen covered boulder – Nikon D500, f8, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then it moved much further up the slope and seemed to be enjoying the warmth of the sun again. I think I will venture back to Mercur Canyon a couple of times in the next few months to see if this Rock Squirrel will raise a family there. It would be fun to photograph the young squirrels playing on the slope.

Life is good.

Mia

2 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child March 8, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Echoing Patty. Love the squirrel. who has a very fine coat, and the rocks and the lichens are beautiful.

  2. Patty Chadwick March 8, 2017 at 7:21 am

    A wonderful series! Between the fluffy-looking squirrel , the rocks and lichens,mit’s a real visual treat for me. I raised a couple of Eastern gray squirrels and though they sometimes drive me nuts, I still get a kick out of them. The gray squirrels hang oout in the front of our house and the little red squirrels stay in the back. I’ve seen flying squirrels in both places…

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