Saturday, August 31, 2013

For the love of chipmunks

Last October when I was up in the Cove a chipmunk made an appearance part way through the 10 days I had there. I got to feeding him (??, hereafter him, anyway) a few trail mix bits and pieces and was blown away by the fact that he seemed so social. He actually brushed me once as he ran by. I called him Champ on account of how brave I anthropomorphised him to be. Found he preferred peanuts. Missed him when I returned to Mexico.

This summer, after a few days, a chipmunk returned. For the obvious anthropomorphic reasons I assumed he was Champ, and we quickly got back on the peanut gig. Michele got in on it too, and in no time he was feeding out of our hands. Wary, but trusting.

Then 'he' turned up one day but behaved differently, keeping his distance. Michele said "I think we have another chipmunk". He got some peanuts. After a while he (see above) was tamed and hung around long enough for comparisons to be made. Meanwhile, he'd been named Chomp. This turned out to be singularly appropriate. He'd fill his cheeks, go off any bury the nuts and be back for more. And more.

His and Champ's hanging around made it possible to tell the differences or, at least, to ascertain that Champ has a longer tail with a kink in it near the end, and Chomp has rustier hind quarters.

Then a third one appeared, and became Chum. But we suspect the competition may have got too steep. I don't *think* we have tamed him such that some of Chomp's occurrences are actually Chum. We are sure about Champ, and sure enough about Chomp. Champ lies up the hill and Chomp lives downtown somewhere between the barn and the road. If all return subsequently we'll know Champ immediately, and then it will be down to trying to see if Chomp has any distinguishing signs (though we have found none so far).

Both are represented here, but don't ask who is where and when because the tails are behind them. I suspect it is Chomp on the pumpkin seeds, but would not argue that with any conviction. The bottom line is that they are cute and we miss them both, with Chum, and Nutso the squirrel.

Actually, Nutso was the first to eat nuts, and he is distinctive. This summer there were also Scamp and Squirt. But in the end only Nutso made semi regular appearances. The chipmunks actually got to seeing the squirrels off, despite being smaller. Nutso still came back, got a few nuts, but was regularly out-Darwined by the munks.