A ground squirrel dinner

A california ground squirrel eats a freshly picked thistle leaf
A california ground squirrel eats a freshly picked thistle leaf. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-7D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3: 1/800 sec. at f/7.1.

Recently I was out photographing birds, but perhaps a little too early in the day for the typical evening activities. Most were slumbering in the late afternoon heat. However, the California ground squirrels were out in force, foraging and grooming, and generally looking cute.

After watching this one give himself a vigorous dirt bath, he hung around the area for a quick snack. He slowly moved from one thistle patch to another, plucking leaves and daintily gnawing at the edges of each leaf until it was gone. A quick look to each side and he was on to the next plant.

As he did this, I couldn’t help but notice how dextrous his tiny hands were in the way he plucked and handled each leaf, slowly turning it in a circle as he bit at the edges. Although they are so numerous it is easy to take them for granted (or think of them as pests!), they certainly are entertaining to watch.