02.21.21: Chipmunk in the grass

Chipmunk in the grass, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Chipmunk in the grass, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Jun 28, 2015 8:49 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF600mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x 
  • Focal length: 840mm
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/1000 second
  • ISO: 800

Out in the open isn’t a good spot for a chipmunk

Most of my photography experiences involving chipmunks go something like this: My eyes see a chipmunk and my brain says “there’s a …” (the chipmunk drops into hiding) “… chipmunk."

It's not easy to get shots of chipmunks. They don't spend much time in the open. Their color allows them to blend with their surroundings. And they are quick to head for cover when threatened. This survival behavior is important because there are a lot of animals hanging around the woods that eat chipmunks, including owls, hawks, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, foxes, weasels, cats, dogs, snakes and possibly others. An inattentive chipmunk can become a snack.

But I've managed to get some good shots through the years, lucky accidents when I'm in the woods or fields photographing birds. Chipmunks like wooded areas or fields near wooded areas, preferring locations with rocky terrain and shrubs to provide cover.

This chipmunk was violating all rules of chipmunk behavior. It was standing in the grass beside the trail, in bright sunshine with no immediate cover nearby. It didn’t see me approach — inattentiveness isn’t a good trait for a chipmunk — and stood quietly while staring into the distance. So I slowly lifted the camera to get a shot, fully expecting the chipmunk to dash off when detecting motion.

It stayed, so I got a shot.

Then a couple of walkers came down the trail, carrying on a rather loud conversation. This broke the chipmunk’s trance and it darted away.

It's not easy to get shots of chipmunks. They don't spend much time in the open. Their color allows them to blend with their surroundings. And they are quick to head for cover when threatened.