European ground squirrel at Lake Neusiedl | Lake Neusiedl part 2

The European ground squirrel has its area of distribution exclusively in Eastern Europe. Lake Neusiedl lies on the western edge of the distribution area. Therefore the european ground squirrel was one of my target species for my week in the Pannonian plain.

1/500 | f/ 6.3 | ISO 800 | 600mm

The european ground squirrel

European ground squirrels are diurnal and live basically on the ground. They build an earth cave in which they spend the night or seek shelter in case of danger. The gopher is highly endangered in Europe. The reason for this is the rapid loss of habitat. Low grassland and meadow landscapes are disappearing more and more and are being replaced by fields and rich meadows. Parklands, camping sites, golf courses and airports are in many places the last retreats of the ground squirrels. But especially at airports, the little rodents aren’t welcome as larger ground squirrel colonies can attract many birds of prey. These can then pose a major threat to air traffic.

1/800 | f/ 6.3 | ISO 400 | 600mm

European ground squirrel at Lake Neusiedl

While there are still european ground squirrels in their natural habitat around Lake Neusiedl, there are also some that live in an urban environment. The ground squirrels at the Zicksee are particularly well known. Hundreds of ground squirrels live on a camping site and a nearby rehabilitation centre.

Already on the way there I spotted some ground squirrels on the shore along the Zicksee. But they were all relatively shy. Even at a great distance they quickly rushed to their nearest burrow. On the lawn of the rehabilitation centre I discovered even more ground squirrels. These turned out to be much more tolerant.

To look for potential dangers, the ground squirrel stood up on their hind legs. If one of them spotted a threat, it immediately alerted its conspecifics. In no time at all they all disappeared into their burrows. But it did not take long until the first ones stuck their heads out of their burrows again. If you sat down on a bench or lay down on the lawn, it would sometimes happen that a ground squirrel came running towards you and examine you. This also allowed me to get some portraits and play with different compositions.

1/500 | f/ 6.3 | ISO 800 | 600mm

Apart from the ground squirrels, there were also some starlings that were foraging on the lawn. In the meantime the sun came out again and the feathers of the starlings began to shimmer wonderfully. Because I wanted to photograph another target species at the Zicksee, I packed my things again and continued my search…

1/800 | f/ 6.3 | ISO 360 | 600mm

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Nicolas Stettler

Weyernweg 27

2560 Nidau

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16.8.2022

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