Branching Out With Red Squirrels

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It’s hard to think of a new way to photograph a species that’s been covered as often and in as many different ways as the red squirrel. Sitting, running, jumping, reflected, wide-angle and tele, it’s all been done extremely well. When working on pine martens, often nocturnally with remote cameras, I try to make the most of my time by also photographing the red squirrels that frequent the same forest . But how to portray them in a way that hasn’t been covered many times before? Red squirrels have always struck me as an essentially arboreal species and although they come down to the ground to cache food, much of their time is spent high in the trees. That’s where I shall photograph them I thought, perhaps ambitiously for someone who is not that comfortable with heights. Now, although red squirrels are small, lithe and agile, it’s probably fair to say that I am not. So I found a Scots pine which afforded a nice forest backdrop, backlit in the morning, with a branch squirrels could be bribed to run along and another close enough to clamp camera and flashguns which I triggered from the safety of the ground. I think it worked out OK but it’s not nearly high enough for the effect I wanted.  What I need to do now is get the camera much higher, preferably into an emergent tree looking out over the canopy. I think I’m going to need a longer ladder.

Many thanks, as always, to James Moore for access to his squirrel site.

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Note the health and safety application of gaffer tape. What would photographers do without this essential accessory?

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Male Squirrel scent marking where another squirrel passed earlier.TWH-090414-0119TW-310114-0281

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