The best time to shoot them is when they are eating. I’m usually too caffeinated to aim anything accurately but these animals were so distracted by food that I am able to sneak up quite close.
The camera used to shoot these critters is a borrowed Canon with hefty telephoto amplified with a lens extender. The thing is so heavy that it should be used with a tripod. Of course tripods aren’t for spontaneous arty types like me who must sweat for their art.
The location is the back yard where a fork in our Peara (Guava) tree serves as a venue for an inter-species buffet. The cuisine is mainly rice (a big favourite) and fruit (mainly papaw).
The parrots are a bunch of fussy food critics with the manners of a motorcycle gang. The sort who overturn tables and attack other dinners simply because the soup lacked subtlety. If the food isn’t served when they land there’s a major hue and cry. Too many times a quiet Saturday lunch is interrupted to placate these customers.
The squirrels are much better behaved. They don’t whine about the presentation and always seem grateful. They come, feed, and go (clearly its a business lunch). No lolling about like the parrots whose after lunch chit chats go on into the sunset. Perhaps they are networking or a shocking bunch of gossips. The two in the picture above belong to the gang of food critics that lurk around our area. Their morning hang out is the next door water tank. Lunch and afternoon loitering is at our place.
The parrots have no specific leader – just a cacophony of inflated egos. There IS a pecking order (quite literarily) which is constantly re-established with a lot of pushing, pecking and glaring once the food is served. The issue at hand is always who gets to eat first. Generally its the squirrel who is zips up the tree and nibbles away unnoticed. They used to peck him/her? away but now seem to tolerate the frantic mammal.
The feather loud mouths (beaks) are fun to watch but I have come to respect the fastidious focus of the squirrels. There is a gang of them too. But they behave more as a team or a family. Lately a pair built a spacious nest inside the house and looted our fruit supply to the point where we feared a plague of rats. Once we discovered the cunningly concealed squirrel mansion, we bought off their looting with an offering of a banana right by the entrance. As a reward, the proud parents gave us a glimpse of their tiny furry offspring. This was acknowledged with many cries of “aney sweet!” and increased fruit offerings. Cunning critters aren’t they?
I think there must be a clan of squirrels extending into two generation around our house now. As I sip my dawn brew, the next door squirrel commutes almost like clock work to our garden along the hooks toping the dividing wall. Knowing rush hour Colombo traffic it is wise to get out of the house early. Clearly a prudent character. This morning I spotted him/her wrestling with a fruit of our neighbour’s rambutan tree. He/She was a monument to determination. I used to consider squirrels to be too stressed out. Watching them eat is not too far from observing an anxiety attack. Being Sri Lankan squirrels they deal with stress the old fashioned way – by drinking heavily. How many time have you come across a bunch of them at a kassipu stand, drinking out of old Smirnoff bottles in that haze of ganja?
Ok so this feely good post has gone on for quite a bit and needs to have a decent conclusion. They only way I know how to do this is to stop pecking the keys. So to paraphrase Sri Lanka’s most vocal cannibal, thank you for reading.