unless you just walked into this blog about ten minutes ago, you already know that this summer is kind of heavy on posts about things i happened to see or do while working on this year's venture vermont outdoor challenge. one of the items on this year's list is to photograph and identify two kinds of mammals in the wild, to identify them and record their behavior.
while i seem to have a knack for getting decent pictures of frogs and toads, i am finding class mammalia an altogether more difficult thing.
while i'm seeing a lot of deer and even the occasional moose or mink, there's really nothing in the behaviors of those animals that make them sit still while you get out your camera. bunnies, on the other hand, will freeze right to the spot and pretend you can't see them. sadly, my one really good picture of a rabbit disappeared mysteriously in a minor data crash.
when you meet people out in the wild they will often happily pose for you, but most will draw the line if you take notes about their behavior, plus i think that while people definitely qualify as mammals, they are not really what the state parks department had in mind with this item on the list.
so one morning i was on the border of some woodland in rockingham looking for a geocache and i spotted a little thing in a crevice of a tree that looked a little out of place. it turned out not to be a small geocache, but a bat. there is little to say about its behavior except that it was sleeping sufficiently soundly as to make me have to look closely to see that it wasn't dead.
of course even it there was no venture challenge i would still have to go look up what kind of bat it was, because i'm like that. so i hit the identification guides, which were of little help to me other than to narrow it down to four or five of the nine species found in vermont.
so i did the thing you'd do, right?
i called up the department of fish and wildlife to ask a wildlife biologist because i figure bats are an item of interest for those guys and they probably see them all the time and can recognize this one right away from the photo.
plus if you work for the state as a wildlife biologist, i imagine you get more calls about scary or pesty or huntable critters than you do about critters that somebody just wants to know more about.
alyssa bennet, the wildlife biologist who returned my call, was able to identify my sleeping beauty as a big brown bat, which i thought was something of a misnomer since this little guy is all of nine centimeters long.
later in the day i was having a look at a historical marker along the crown point military road when i got a good scolding from a pair of chipmunks. i thought the thing i always think when i'm being scolded by a chipmunk, which is, "you're kind of cheeky for a groundsquirrel, aren't you?"
while it's easy to SEE a chipmunk in a cute pose, it is somewhat harder to photograph one that way, because you kind of have to be quick with the camera. they don't stay too long in any one particular cute pose, but i was noticing that this one kept coming back to the same spot on this rock to strike more or less the same pose at me while chattering loudly whatever chipmunk-based invective that chipmunks chatter when you have disturbed their gathering.
so i just focused on that spot on the rock and i waited for the chipmunk to come back.
kind of cheeky for a groundsquirrel.