Remember this post: https://callofnatureblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/unwanted-animals/ ?
Well, unlike rats, which are usually not on the “loved animals” list, squirrels are considered cute, funny and adorable by most people. I haven’t known anyone yet who would not love them! People enjoy meeting them, watching them and feeding them. How about photographing them?
From a photographic point of view I consider squirrels pretty much a challenge as they are very fast, excellent climbers. They literally jump from tree to tree at incredible heights! In many moments you really need to have good anticipation skills to get some fine pictures. Let me elaborate on this.
In my opinion two conditions need to be fulfilled in order to get some “memorable” squirrel photos. On the one hand you have to know where these lovely animals can be found. For example in Bucharest there are two parks where squirrels are present: Herastrau (now King Michael Park) and Circus Park. On the other hand one has to be there at the right time. And this time is early morning. Unlike rats (which I photographed during afternoon), these adorable rodents are usually active in the first hours of the day (say 7 to 9 AM) when they are in search for food. So the idea is to get up early (I know for many of us this might be veeery difficult), go into the park or forest and … wait. The squirrels will definitely come to have their breakfast. This is the best moment when some good pictures can be taken, namely when they are so occupied with eating that they simply ignore any visitor. To increase your chances you could take some food with you: nuts, peanuts or other crunchy stuff. But usually there is plenty of food in their natural habitat so no need to worry too much about this.
Squirrels also like to play a lot with each other. But this is when it becomes challenging. They climb from tree to tree and one must really have good anticipation skills to get some usable shots. Longer practice will definitely help develop these skills and I dare say it’s worth visiting the area more times until getting used to their behavior. However the golden time is when they are eating. They’ll care more about the food than about the person who is nearby. I even managed to get less than one meter close to a squirrel while it was enjoying its meal!
Below I attached some photos taken in the two parks mentioned earlier. I can tell you one thing: once I fulfilled the two conditions there was not a single time I haven’t seen a squirrel in the chosen area. Last time I even saw two of them, each one having a different color: a red-brown and a grey one. They were extremely active and playful and I had little time to get a few snapshots. You really need to be quick when they are enjoying the game!
Another thing I would like to mention is the idea of getting up early when going into the field to take pictures. It doesn’t only apply to squirrels but to nature photography itself. To be honest this is a thing I’ve been doing starting this year as until now I used to shoot “when I had some spare time”. But this often meant going out in the afternoon or late morning. Bad idea! Early morning is the best time for taking nature photos. On the one hand the best light is available as the air is cleaner. On the other hand many animals are most active during this time of day. Squirrels are just an example. Also there are less human visitors in early morning so the animals are more relaxed and chances are that they will stay longer to get photographed. So yes, getting up early brings a great deal of opportunities for getting great wildlife, birds and landscape photos. To sum up I would say: it’s never too early to go out and take some nature shots. It could only be too late!
So then … what are you waiting for? Set your alarm, take your gear and go shooting! Or simply go out to take a walk! You won’t regret it.
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