As I was walking along the trail down at Whitemud Ravine a subtle rustle of leaves from a grove of High-bush Cranberries caught my attention. The bushes were laden with ripe berries and I assumed that the noise came from birds enjoying a snack. I tried to coax my eyes into focusing in on the source of the rustle. It took a while, but then I saw a quick flash of a diminutive bushy tail. That was sufficient evidence to identify the culprit. A Least Chipmunk was balancing on the thin branches of one of the bushes and gorging itself with ripe berries. Summer is coming to an end and the forest is full of ripe berries, fruits, nuts and mushrooms. The squirrels, chipmunks and birds are bushy feasting on the bounty and hoarding supplies for the long winter. Further down the trail I came across a Red Squirrel enjoying a nut from a Beaked Hazelnut bush and another one carrying an entire apple (it was a small apple).
Last Sunday I went on my first bike field trip down to the Whitemud Ravine and through the river valley. It takes a bit of practice to bike, and, at the same time, be ready to bird and take pictures. Where do your keep your binoculars, camera and notebook while biking? You want this gear to be accessible yet out of your way while biking. Hanging the binoculars and camera around your neck does not work so well when on a bike. Still working on the logistics of that, but I am looking forward to doing more bike birding, or nature biking during the summer. The first critter I encountered when I arrived at the ravine was this diminutive Least Chipmunk (Neotamias minimus) scampering through the understory. He was bit apprehensive of the large critter staring at him and making weird noise (that would be me) yet too curious to just run away without checking out what the commotion was about. The Least Chipmunk is the smallest species of chipmunk and the most widespread in North America. These chipmunks are diurnal (primarily active during the daytime), which is probably a good idea considering the nearby Great Horned Owl family.