The Panamint Chipmunks are out in force this spring, the ground seems to be moving there are so many of them. They provide hours and hours of entertainment especially right now as they are in love. You can easily spend hours chasing them with glass right now as they run about finding mates and making chipmunk love and come back with very few clicks. They just don’t hold still. Seriously, you can see 20+ at one time from our office window darting about! Well, I don’t have that kind of time plus, I’ve made a click or two of them over the years so I pick my time and place.
What I do anymore is wait for them to come to me. That really is simple, they climb Tree2 and wiggle across the branch towards the feeders and wait their turn in line. Our yard is bursting this year with Evening Grosbeaks and they rule the roost. Other then the Steller Jays, no other bird, chipmunk or squirrel takes them on. There can be as many as 8 at the feeder at one time (with a dozen waiting in line) and that’s enough bills to hold everything else at bay. This makes for a great photo opp for me as the chipmunks wait their turn.
Using my favorite “out the window” lens, the 300f4AFS, i simply stood at the window when I saw a chipmunk make its move. Part of the trick is to not flush all the grosbeaks (Evening and Black-headed, no Rose-breasted yet) that scare off the chipmunks. The grosbeaks are so close I need my reading glasses to focus on them, that’s close! There are only certain times in the day I’ll do this, when the light spotlights certain parts of the branch. Many of the branches are too thick so I won’t shoot things on them. Others are just not to purty and others have bad backgrounds. So my shooting time is a narrow window. When the conditions are right, I just wait until I have a character show up. I liked this guy (I knew it was a guy when it turned around) because of the determination that was on his face trying to wiggle into the feeder line. Because of that I underexposed a little more then normal to make the shadows drop and opened the lens up to f/4 so only its face was sharp. What often happens and always makes me laugh is the frustration the chipmunks often face and how they display that when they can’t get to the feeder. The bottom shot is so typical, that is the reaction when the frustration gets to them. These kinds of photos besides being so much fun to shoot are great money makers for a couple of reasons. Most don’t spend time with chipmunks and who doesn’t love a chipmunk making them good page fodder. Too much fun!
Photos captured by D3x, 300f4AFS on Lexar UDMA digital film