Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preparing for winter

As I mentioned in a previous post I've found California ground squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi) to be excellent models as I learn to draw wildlife. After spending the summer drawing the rather tame squirrels that have made homes in the picnic areas where there's constant human activity, I decided to begin sketching some of the wilder cousins out along the trails in the old quarry areas of Howarth Park.

In early August, I noticed three juveniles basking in the sun as it rose and warmed the rocks. I didn't see any adults but heard alarm calls a few hundred feet behind where I sat. I stopped to visit and sketch one or two times each week and only saw the three youngsters, who generally appeared each morning as the rocks were warmed by the sun. They would bask, then move about the grasses, eating seeds and playing with each other while keeping an eye on Chloe and I as we watched them.

For almost a week, I only saw two of the young squirrels and feared that a predator had made a meal of the missing squirrel. Then, one day I saw all three together again and two adults, as well. One of the adults was carrying a large load of something in her cheek pockets. In fact, she seemed rooted to the spot, giving me the chance to get a drawing of her in all of her double-chinned glory.


  1. Hi, Debbie. It seems like I barely had time to experience summer and now we’re getting ready for winter. I always enjoy your drawings. You have a real talent for capturing the spirit of your subjects.

  2. Your ground squirrel looks as though she has the mumps! Well done. She may have been caching food, or she may have been gathering dried grasses and such to line a nest. I've seen them gathering great mouthfuls of grasses at this time of year. They don't hibernate here, but are much less visible during our wet winter.

  3. Thank you for sharing
    This fabulous work with us
    Good creations

  4. I love your multiple exposure 'motion picture' technique -- the only way to illustrate perfectly the life of a squirrel.