Well, It’s a Critter and It’s Furry (Pt 2 of 2)

As promised, this is the second part of my two part post on furry critters.  If I was guessing on some of the categorization of the critters in the last blog, then I’m pulling them out of certain somewhere with this set.  It is hard enough to classify birds, but these animals are about impossible to distinguish one from another especially when they have essentially the same fur coloring.  So, I have taken some liberties.  Due to limited references and numerous inconsistencies on the web, there is a high probability that the animals are not properly named.  Take for instance this creature.

Based on the Rocky Mountain Guide from Audubon (region where this photo was taken), the closest I can tell is that it is a Rock Squirrel.  Am I sure about this… NO.  However, if looks like a Rock Squirrel, walks like a Rock Squirrel and unable to squeak English to correct me, we’ll be going with Rock Squirrel.  On the size scale, this was the largest off all of them I was able to snap a shot of.  Based on the glint in his eye, he seems ready to rip me to shreds.  And then there was this squirrel.

Now there were two options for this fur monster.  It has a distinguished grey color and a distinctive white outline of the eye.  After spending hours scouring the Internet and reading the paltry paragraphs in the field guide, the options are either an Abert’s Squirrel or a Red Squirrel.  The Abert’ Squirrel is suppose to be grey (check), has a white underbelly (check), tufts of hair coming off the ears (uhh, hmm) and white highlights on the end of the tail (crap).  In contrast, the Red Squirrel has a rounded ear (check), white underbelly (check), pale reddish grey coloring (uhh, hmm).  Playing the odds, the money is on Red Squirrel.

Wait a minute, now we have the pale reddish gray we were expecting in the last picture, but the tufts are there now which were more indicative of the other squirrel.  So do we have two different squirrels here or is one in some kind of disguise to hide his super squirrel ninja skilz.  One minute innocent cute and cuddly creature, the next chopping nuts with a pair of squirrel chucks.  Okay, probably not a likely scenario so sticking with the Red Squirrel option.  Oh, and based on about 40 minutes of searching the net, there appears to be a lot of images labeled similarly showing a creature with the same dark grey coloring as in the previous photo.  Maybe the fur coloring changes with maturity or seasons.  This was not confirmed with the weak descriptions in the field guide.  Although this may be the missing link.

This appears to be the transition specimen.  The fur coloring blends in between the deeper grey and the reddish hue.  It also has a similar posture (and eyeliner) along with the tufts from the first picture but still showing the rounder ear structure mentioned in the guide.  For the record, I do like this particular shot since it has both foreground and background depth (nicely blurred) and hint of symmetry with the rock.  After about 5 different cropping experiments, the center crop won out since that allowed for keeping the foreground indicator and still showing the round of the rock.  To critique myself, next time I’ll move about 15 degrees to keep the background limb from impaling the subject.  For snicks, here’s another shot of what appears to be the perfect specimen for a Rock Squirrel based on the Audubon guide.

Makes you want to reach out and pet it doesn’t it?  Wait, two words… Squirrel Fu.

Hit the jump to see a couple of other squirrel like creatures captured in the Yellowstone region.

Next up is the Uinta Ground Squirrel.  This name totally drove me nuts trying to spell it right.  The image file names are all screwed up, but this went unnoticed until after the upload.  Luckily, this is easily accommodated in HTML.  Let’s bring this creature out for show and tell.

It’s distinguishing characteristic?  Anyone?  Correct, it happens to be grey.  Great, that means it can be any one of the 10 animals pictured in the guide and if you are bored sometime just try finding this animal with the key words “Grey Squirrel” and start wading through the horde of returned images.  I was in the midst of doing this when my brother called and gave me an excuse to stop that fruitless endeavor.  Here, let me give you another shot which will give you the ability to refine your search.

hehehe… good luck with that.  He’s probably keeping a lookout for squirrel ninjas.  Let’s rap this post up in order to give me some time to prep for another one to at least hit this month’s quota.  Good thing this is a long weekend or I would be doomed!

Confession time.  The real subject of this shot was the old tree roots which looked pretty interesting at the time.  Once downloaded to the computer, it lost a little of its luster.  As the finger started to come down on the delete button, something caught my eye that deserved a closer inspection.  Zooming way in, the little chipmunk came into focus.  I assume you saw it pretty quick, but this was significantly smaller in the original picture (very appreciative of the 12M raw files).  The image got a last minute reprieve due to this unexpected aspect.  It also provides a goo example of the strategic coloring of these little guys.  Oh, might as well tell you that it appears to be a Uinta Chipmunk.  Clearly caffeine junkies, these chipmunks would not sit still for more than 3 seconds.  Of all the pictures taken, this is probably the only one that was stationary and it was pure luck.

Bedtime!   have a good one and see ya’ soon!

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