Montana Outdoors

June 24, 2008

A beauty and a beast

Often when attempting to frame exactly the shot I want of a flower, I end up lying on the ground, crawling around through the shrubbery, or slithering along like a snake, and that’s what I was doing today while photographing this Bear Grass blossom. (The beauty)

Bear Grass, xerophyllum tenax

Bear Grass

Suddenly, off to my left and quite close, I saw a quick movement and turned my head slowly to see a visitor (The beast). He either didn’t notice me because I was down inside the foliage or perhaps just didn’t consider me to be a threat (which I wasn’t) and so approached quite close, stood on a log and nibbled on some leaves. Since my camera was already on I was able to get a photo of him even though it was directly into the sun. He was a pleasant little fellow and he even gave me a few tips about getting the exposure right for certain Bear Grass photos.

Columbian Ground Squirrel.

Columbian Ground Squirrel

Columbian Ground Squirrel from


  1. As soon as I saw his picture, I thought, “Now there’s a guy who obviously knows his f-stops and his exposures!”

    He could probably teach me something about escaping from coyotes, too…


    Comment by wolf — June 24, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

  2. Yup, they really know their stuff! They must know quite a bit about eluding predators because they are plentiful, at least in this one area. There’s a great food supply and lots of cover for them and I haven’t seen too much sign of predators in the area.


    Comment by montucky — June 24, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

  3. how fun! what a great shot! I guess it pays to crawl around in the dirt a bit…


    Comment by silken — June 24, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

  4. He didn’t seem to mind sharing his habitat with someone else who didn’t mind crawling through it. It’s always exciting to me to see wild things in their natural homes, and what a beautiful little critter he is! His fur coat is just gorgeous!


    Comment by montucky — June 24, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

  5. I noticed his fur coat too! It’s really quite extraordinary in comparison to that of les écureuils du jardin which we have around here…and I am still learning my f-stops and exposures, ha ha. Oy, I need to take a class!


    Comment by Tabbie — June 25, 2008 @ 4:50 am

  6. Those flowers are beautiful indeed. These little (beastly! 😀 ) creatures interest me a lot – they are so full of life, so aware of things at their level of disposition and consciousness, that I am frequently amazed how human beings tend to consider animals as different or “lowly” life forms. Their life is as much intricate – and much more beautiful – than ours! 🙂 Wonderful shots, as usual! 🙂


    Comment by Sumedh — June 25, 2008 @ 5:49 am

  7. Great shots. I usually dress in an old brown shirt and jeans when I go photo shooting – just so I can lie on the ground and not have to worry about laundry! 🙂 Wonder if the people I often see think it’s the only clothing I own!


    Comment by Bo — June 25, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  8. That’s a really cool looking plant.

    And the squirrel is just cute. I wonder if maybe he’s used to people feeding him. I’ve known some squirrels that weren’t afraid of people because of that.


    Comment by Chris Osborne — June 25, 2008 @ 8:36 am

  9. Tabbie,

    This little guy lives above 6,000 feet where there can be some very harsh temperatures and weather conditions and I surmise that he has developed that coat for comfort and protection and camouflage.


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  10. Sumedh,

    I think it’s simply the arrogance of the human beast that causes disrespect for our fellow citizens on this earth. I always admire their ability to live in comfort where you and I certainly could not. It would certainly be a more peaceful existence in my way of thinking!


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 9:36 am

  11. Bo,

    For the last several years my dress code has become very simple and utilitarian. Boots and jeans are always the order of the day, although I usually wear camo when I’m back in the primitive areas. It’s an advantage to living outside the cities.


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  12. Chris,

    Actually, this little guy lives in a very remote area and may well have never seen a human before and therefore doesn’t even know the danger they can pose to him. I hope I was a good ambassador!


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 9:41 am

  13. Is he as big as he appears in the picture, Montucky? How does he compare to the fox squirrel or grey squirrel we have down south?


    Comment by errolllevant — June 25, 2008 @ 10:15 am

  14. Yes, they’re pretty good size. This one was about a foot tall and I’ve read they can get up to about 30 ounces in the fall when they are fattened up for hibernation.


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  15. what a great shot of the little critter! talk about up close and personal!


    Comment by Cedar — June 25, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

  16. Yeah, it’s always cool to get that close to a wild thing. I consider it a special privilege!


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  17. The flowers are *gorgeous* and how wonderful and lucky for you to get a visit from such a beautiful little critter. And one willing to pose for a beauty shot.


    Comment by Sara — June 25, 2008 @ 9:53 pm

  18. I’ll bet you will enjoy seeing Bear grass flowers when you get to Montana if you haven’t seen them before. I’ll post more pictures of them in a few days. They are exciting, partly because of where they live, in the high country.

    There are quite a few of these squirrels in that area and they’re not too wild but usually won’t come as close as this one did. They sure look like friendly little guys!


    Comment by montucky — June 25, 2008 @ 10:04 pm

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