Urban Squirrels in the Snow

Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Sunday, January 26th, 2014, Novi Sad, Serbia: I was preparing for this for a long time. Even tried a few times before, but with no luck. Now, when I had gathered all the logistical info necessarry for the operation (Katarina was there a few days ago - you can see her photos here - and she described the location, even drew a "map" for me), and when I've decided that the best time would be early sunday morning when you could expect no man to be there at that time, especially with temperature falling down to -10C, I knew this was the time to go. Another advantage was the snow. I could expect more interesting photos - even in case I do not find the squirrels, there had to be nice scenes to capture.

So the evening before, I set up the alarm to 5:55. I got up, had my coffee and prepared quietly in order not to wake the kids up, then sneaked out of the apartment and drove to Futoški park, located in broader downtown area Novi Sad. I was there at 7:00AM. Nobody around.

I stepped into the not so deep snow (with the camera set up while still in the car, so that nothing could surprise me). The snow was squeaking, and the ice cracking beneath my shoes. While I generally like that, this time it was not so desireable. Didn't wan't to scare the squirrels too soon, if I find them at all. But there - after about two hundred meters deep inside the park area, I notices a small black creature with the biiiig tail, digging into the snow, looking for food. I immediatelly made a few shots, because I wasn't sure whether I would have better chances, but luckily I did. I slowly approached the fir tree where the squirrel escaped. Inside the dense treetop I could notice every move. The treacherously falling snowflakes indicated the place where the little imp was hiding. Two of them, actually. At least two, maybe even more!

The first sight! And immediate love...

"Where's all that food???"

"Let's dig a little into the snow..."

"Mmmmm, yummy! What a delight!"

"Just a taste before I go upstairs!"

I took a pack of peanuts that I prepared to use as a "bribe" for those cuties and started throwing the grains around the tree. But they did not care much (even though I am convinced that they enjoyed it later). But for now, they were occupied collecting some other sort of nuts that they dug out of the snow, bit and ran away with it back up into the safety of the trees.

My patience, though, paid back. Even though the frost was biting my fingers since I couldn't have manipulated the camera in any sort of gloves, I was slowly changing my position searching for the good angle to make a few decent shots.

Home, sweet home

A few dog walkers appeared at that time. Not that I mind them, generally, but this time I'd simply be happier without having them there. Luckily, the dogs did not bark at the squirrels, and the walkers went away, so I could get back to my assignment.

Look at me, and - well - you don't have to say 'cheese'...

Posing, and posing, and ...

"Is the photo session finished yet?"

Those eyes, the same color as the berries...

Bye bye, cutie pie...

After about an hour, and close to a hundred of shots made, the freezing temperature did its work on my fingers. They started hurting as hell. I became aware that was it for today, and headed towards the car, rubbing hands in order to revive the hurting fingers by increasing blood circulation. It eventually helped. Once inside the car, I turned the camera off, closed the screen and put the lens protector lid in place. Sneaked into the apartment about eight, and put the tightly zipped camera bag close to the open window in order to let it acommodate to the room temperature gradually, and to avoid moisture condensation that could damage the inner parts.

In the meantime, I warmed myself up with another cup of coffee, and inserted the memory card into the laptop slot to see the results, which are here for you to enjoy.

Until next time...

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