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Old Sep 19, 2010, 5:33 PM   #1
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Default Changing of the Guard

The scrawny squirrel that had the encounter with the hawk that I posted a while ago has been replaced by one with a larger, bushy tail that may make him appear larger to a hawk - at any rate he has been monopolizing the feeder for a while now and we haven't seen the hawk again. My wife put out some peanuts for him that he proceeded to cache throughout the yard, which has made him virtually a permanent resident, as he has something to eat when the seeds are all gone. As you will see below he now shows evidence of some fellow travelers, so I don't want encourage him any more, as rodents here harbor plague carrying fleas and also can carry the Hanta virus, therefore no more peanuts for him. These were also taken hand-held (but braced against the door frame) with the K20 under similar conditions, but with the bigger, heavier Sigma 135-400 and are much better than those with the more compact Tokina 80-400, which is now at the importer to be checked out - that lens in the discontinued Pentax mount is hard to come by, so I hope they can fix whatever is wrong with it.

1 There is a squirrel under all that tail (the doves blow seeds off the bench with their wings, and he is searching in the grass for them)

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2 Found one!

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3 This one uses his fingers, too

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4 Fleas!

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5 I'm outta here!

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Old Sep 19, 2010, 6:39 PM   #2
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cute little bugger - love the second and thrid shots very well squirrlish =) didn't know the carried dieases though - shame as make for very cute garden residents
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 7:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John.Pattullo View Post
cute little bugger - love the second and thrid shots very well squirrlish =) didn't know the carried dieases though - shame as make for very cute garden residents
Thanks, John

I can't tie them to tree squirrels for certain, but rodent borne diseases may know no such limits. Hanta Virus is usually associated with rat and mouse excreta (urine and droppings). Plague carrying fleas have been found in Ground Squirrel burrows locally, and the Public Health agency regularly checks burrows in public parks; when the plague is detected (as it has been several times in recent years), the burrows are dusted by Vector Control to control the fleas, rather than exterminating the squirrels, which are public favorites (there was a public outcry when that was first proposed). Both these diseases have been found in humans locally, but the plague is no longer the threat it once was, thanks to antibiotics.
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 7:30 PM   #4
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Some finr shots there, Pen!
added some humor to my evening too.

the photos, not the story about the fleas!
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Old Sep 19, 2010, 8:06 PM   #5
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I sent my Tokina 80-400mm to Tokina for repair last year, it came back better then new. I have the Sigma 150-500mm HSM but it is much heavier. The Tokina is great for hand holding.

Good luck with yours.

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Old Sep 20, 2010, 6:07 AM   #6
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Fun series - and another lens (80-400) I forgot about to add to my Want list !
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Old Sep 20, 2010, 7:02 AM   #7
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Very nice sharp detail and great color - he/she is paying you well for all the seed & nuts!
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Old Sep 20, 2010, 2:40 PM   #8
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Thanks GW, Ed, FF and Mole for looking and commenting.

Ed, I remembered that. I live close so I took it over to THK (= Tokina Hoya Kenko) myself. The photo on their website looks like a small building, but it is really quite a large facility. Haven't heard back from them yet.

Mole, other pictures not posted confirm that he is definitely a he
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Old Sep 20, 2010, 2:42 PM   #9
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I just this morning noticed in the photographs that this poor guy has a problem. Thre is a large cyst like enlargement in his right ear and a smaller one in the left (don't know how I missed that before). In the first photo you can see a hole in the cyst, which is probably the breathing hole of a bot fly larva. There are several species that parasitize rodents (including squirrels), so he is hosting a couple of them.
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Old Sep 20, 2010, 4:00 PM   #10
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Sorry to hear your visitor is having his medical problems. Just about every year there's reports of animals found with plague, it's endemic to the area. One year it was someone's cat that tested positive for plague, but most of the time it's dead coyotes or squirrels that they test.

One year they had a fairly big problem at a campground near a ranger station. They closed the campground for several years until they came up with an idea - as I recall, they laced peanut butter chunks with an insecticide of some sort that was harmless to the squirrels but which would kill the fleas that they had on them. They reopened the campground a year or so after they did this and there hasn't been a problem since.

While I think squirrels are great fun to watch, I don't encourage them around the house. They are part of the coyote's diet and I often hear a pack in the distance. I'd just as soon they STAY at a distance, at least for the most part (I once watched one cross the yard next door with a cat or small dog in it's mouth, the reason for not encouraging them).
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