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Old Jun 28, 2004, 10:59 AM   #1
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We met this fellow while hiking in the Grand Mesa National Forest. He is one of the largest porcupines I've ever seen. Porcupines are typically VERY slow moving, but I've generally found them difficult to photograph because when they detect your presence they will move away, always positioning their body with their sharp quills toward the threat. Also, porcupines have dark eyes hidden in a dark face, so getting any image which includes an open eye is a challenge.

This photo was taken in the bright sunlight at mid-day so the bright reflection off the fallen aspen trees detracts, but we do get a view of a face any mother could love. This porcupine was browsing on, if you can believe it, the very prickly Canada Thistle.

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Old Jun 28, 2004, 11:11 AM   #2
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For those of you who have never seen one of these guys, here's a shot of the business end of a porcupine with the sharp quills of his tail and backside erected in a defensive posture. The quills are about one to three inches in length, with a smooth round white shaft and a black barbed tip. Porcupines use their strong tail to lash any attacker and drive the quills deep. Ouch!

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P.S.: sorry for the double post, trying to correct a photo attach problem.
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Old Jun 28, 2004, 11:13 AM   #3
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For those of you who have never seen one of these guys, here's a shot of the business end of a porcupine with the sharp quills of his tail and backside erected in a defensive posture. The quills are about one to three inches in length, with a smooth round white shaft and a black barbed tip. Porcupines use their strong tail to lash any attacker and drive the quills deep. Ouch!

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Old Jun 28, 2004, 11:41 AM   #4
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We have a woodchuck living in our back yard (it evicted a skunk, yea!) that is a similar mass, but its wider than taller. This guy kinda remindes me of him... until you get to those quills. I hadn't seen one of these before... I thought they'd be longer.

Nice shots, thanks for posting them.

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Old Jun 28, 2004, 1:56 PM   #5
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Great shot! I know how hard it is to get pics of any little critters in the woods! You did an amazing job! Maybe you could clone out the tree or something.
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Old Jun 28, 2004, 2:33 PM   #6
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Two great captures, Hummer

Occasionally, enthusiastic, "naive" hound dogs will get a face full of quills when they attempt to give chase to a porcupine...

Once, a vet I know, had to anesthetize a canine to remove the quills...just too painful for the canine...

Good news is that canine is wiser now...and back to 100%.
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Old Jun 28, 2004, 6:00 PM   #7
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You folks are all so kind, even when shown less than perfect photos, thank you. I do appreciate constructive criticism too, and have much to learn about digital photography and editing from many of you.

I love showing the wildlife scenes I encounter on my journeys. Being out there with camera is the key. A few minutes after I photographed the porcupine, I left my pack and camera to hike down a steep creek bed for a last bird point count. With the cascading creek covering my sounds I crested a knoll and walked up on two coyotes. They didn't see me (I always wear camouflage clothing in the woods) and they began running toward me. When they were about four meters away I decided I should say hello before they knocked me over. They just about turned inside out as they sommersaulted over backwards to light a shuck for elsewhere. It was such a perfect photo opportunity, yet I had left the camera behind for only a few minutes. It's a lesson I keep learning over and over.

Well, I'm off again for the rest of the week doing more breeding bird count transects, this time in southwest Colorado near Durango and Dolores. Wish me luck, I looking for bears.

Remember, a camera left at home is an award winning photo op missed.

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Old Jun 28, 2004, 11:30 PM   #8
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Nice photos Hummer. Brings back memories of our old dog who used to be able to find porcupines daily. Needless to say his nose was in pretty rough shape, and between those and the skunks we were kept busy with either pliers or tomato juice trying to get him back in shape.
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Old Jun 28, 2004, 11:58 PM   #9
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Hummer wrote:
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You folks are all so kind, even when shown less than perfect photos, thank you. I do appreciate constructive criticism too, and have much to learn about digital photography and editing from many of you.
Well, Hummer, I think your less than perfectphotos, if they can be described as that, are only a notch below perfect. I want to eventually be able to do as well.

You know, I used to backpack all the time in numerous wilderness areas in the eastern and western US. In all those times outdoors I never saw a porcupine! Isn't that strange? I'm guessing it's because I was too busy looking for birds or keeping an eye out for bears (griz or black depending on where I was)...
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