The crisp morning air is full of chirps and whistles as the local songbirds carry on hundreds of conversations at the same time. The rain has stopped for now but the grass is still covered with the morning dew. Scattered clouds drift across the little slice of sky between the mountains of my my home. I have put out some feeders in hopes of charming the birds in for a shot but so far they’ve been been fairly shy. As I scanned the forest for signs of a colorful songbird I saw something moving stealthily along a fallen branch. Since the leaves are still wet he barely made a sound as he searched for the perfect spot to hide the hickory nuts. I began to zoom in and focus but wasn’t really able to focus through the dense underbrush. As I watched him tuck the nuts under a clump of sphagnum Moss he suddenly became aware of my presence. But instead of scampering up the nearest tree and escaping through a network of branches he came in closer. Something that isn’t really unusual for a squirrel in an urban environment where they might get a free meal but up here in the mountains they tend to be more cautious. Often they will give three quick barks and sit high in the tree tops flashing their bushy tails like a warning flag and chatter as loud as they can to alert the others that mankind is in the forest. I have had more than one hunt ruined by a bushy tailed tattler. But for whatever reason this one wasn’t really sure what he was seeing and decided to get a better look. He sat up there on his branch for several minutes pretending to be invisible and peeking out every few seconds. The only other time that a squirrel has been this curious about me was when I was about ten years old and playing in a tree fort with some friends. The fort was simply a few boards nailed to a fallen tree at a friend’s house but it was enough for us to sit on. A large branch ran behind us horizontally and gave us a back rest. That squirrel snuck up on us so quietly that we didn’t notice until it crawled onto my arm. When I turned my head to see what had touched me it startled the squirrel. In a brilliant tactical maneuver he jumped to the top of my head and sprung into canopy above never to be seen again. I hadn’t thought of that for a long time. Even now it makes me chuckle.
The curious squirrel in tonight’s feature image must have decided that I wasn’t really anything to be concerned about because after he finished his game of peekaboo he went back to collecting the hickory nuts from the edge of the forest and hiding them in his little moss vault.
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