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on May 2, 2014 in Wildlife Photography

Got Your Calcium?

Our Douglas Tree Squirrels, some call them Chickaree, are busy at being busy if you know what I mean. The males are chasing each other around the trees and many are showing up with large notches in their ears from the battles. And the females are looking for sources of calcium. One of the most common source of calcium for them are sheds. Sheds are antlers shed during the winter by deer, elk and moose and a very concentrated source of calcium. Those antlers I have attached around the office as perches right now are under siege by the females. Starting at sunrise, it sounds like someone is sawing the side of our home / office as the females gnaw with great zest on the antlers.

The challenge is, getting a shot of this biology. With the antlers literally attached to the side of the office, the squirrels are close. With it still being cold, the windows are closed so I have to have a squirrel at the antlers, slip over and open the window and get back to the lens without scarring it. The first few days they start this activity, they are shy but a week into it, it’s feast time. This morning, this female let me get to the sliding glass door, open it up and slip back to the camera. Shooting with the D4s / 800AFS I’m stuck at f/5.6 wide open and in the dark, the shutter speed was in the basement. I knew I didn’t have time to set up a SB-910 / Octa so my only option was uping the ISO to 800 (hate doing that). That gave me 1/125 and the images you see here. Oh, why the 800mm and not some shorter lens? See that background, that’s why the 800mm. I wanted to grab the green about 40yards behind the squirrel. Oh, and my antlers? They will get replaced as they do every this time because soon, there will nothing left of them.