Emeryville Marina Ground Squirrel, ink & watercolor

Emeryville Marina Ground Squirrel, ink & watercolor

After a delicious breakfast on the patio at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Diner in Emeryville last Sunday, my friend Michael and I walked around the Emeryville Marine. He’s very patient with my need to stop and pet dogs and to take photos of things when I can’t sketch (can’t because he doesn’t have that much patience). I loved this cute little guy’s Joe Casual pose. When I got home I sketched him and his portrait now has the place of honor as the first page in my new journal.

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, Emeryville, color photo

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, Emeryville, color photo (I so wanted to sketch the scene when I was there, but also wanted to socialize so I took a photo and made a note to come sketch at Rudy's on a Tuesday night with my sketch buddies.)

Mysterious Hole

Meanwhile something dug a 6″ wide hole and tunnel under the grass in my backyard. I searched online, trying to find out what kind of animal dug the hole. I found this website that tells you, based on the diameter of the hole and the mounding of the dirt around it. According to that site and this one, the most likely options were armadillo, fox or badger.

Except I live in urban northern California where we definitely don’t have armadillos, badgers or foxes. We do have opossums and raccoons, but possums live in trees, not burrows, and both raccoons and possums have soft hands so their only digging is for grubs just under the sod.

Worried that it could be some huge kind of rat, I called the county’s Vector Control Department (love the euphemism “vector” for nasty critters that spread disease). A very nice gentleman came out this morning but he couldn’t figure it out either, although he mumbled something about skunks but then said not.

I followed his instructions to dig up and fill in the hole, lay a board next to it, sprinkle the board with baby powder and check it mornings looking for footprints in the powder. If the critter comes back he’ll leave his footprint and then we’ll know what it was. Maybe it’s a very small heffalump.

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Category:
Animals, Emeryville, Gardening, Ink and watercolor wash, Painting, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. What a fascinating post. Firstly – I adore Joe Cool the ground squirrel – he needs sun glasses too. LOL
    Secondly I love that abstract photo of the diner and agree that it’s often just not possible to sketch on location, for all sorts of reasons – thank goodness for pocket cameras!
    Lastly – the mystery of the hole – do we get a photo of the hole and the footprint? If it is a heffalump, you should start worrying. ^_~

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    • I forgot to take a picture of it (thought about sketching it, but it seemed rather boring though on second thought it probably would have been interesting, especially if I’d drawn at bug’s eye view) but it seems the heffalump has moved on, as I’ve captured no footprints in the baby powder I put out by the now dug-up hole. Jana

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  2. Oh, rats! If you were in England you could most definitely have a mole. And, since Mole was friends with Badger and Ratty…
    Never mind me…I’m still in the nursery library! 🙂

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  3. I love a mystery.

    I also love the photo of the cafe sign – cool colors and sharp shapes.

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  4. love, love this painting of a squirrel! You captured him so well. I am currently doing battle with the squirrels in my garden, but they are winning…Curious mystery hole. Hope you figure out who made it.

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    • Oh yes, I know that one well. I used to battle squirrels because they were always stealing the bird seed I put out but then I had to stop feeding the birds because the spilled seed was also attracting mice (ick) so now visiting squirrels just make life more interesting for my kitties when they see them out the window.

      There have been no return visits, no footprints captured, so I guess my mystery guest has moved on. Jana

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  5. ha ha a hefalump in California. Didn’t you know they migrate north in the summer to avoid the heat?

    Great squirrel portrait and a fabulous first page.

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  6. Wonderful painting and photograph. You’re a photographer too! The hole. If you were in Central Coast California where I am, it would be a ground squirrel hole. They are absolute pests around the campground where we are camphosting. (But that does not detract from the lovely picture of your squirrel for me!)

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    • I forgot to take a photo of the hole but it was way too big for a ground squirrel. There’s been no more visitations by the critter, which I guess is a good thing. I am trying to learn to be a better photographer but I’ve got a loooong way to go. I so envy your masterful photography but I’m sure it’s taken many years to reach your level! Jana

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  7. I love your squirrel! So alive! So soft and beautiful!

    Frankly, I hope your burrowing critter is a heffalump, although I thought they were cave dwellers, not grown diggers… lol.

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  8. I have a friend who is a contractor in the Bay Area. He says foxes are indeed quite urban. He sees them all the time when they use the crawlspace under houses for dens. They just keep a low profile… Could it be?
    Janet

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  9. Love your painting of the squirrel and picture of the cafe. And I vote for heffalump, so much more interesting! (thank you for bringing that memory back!) Now I’m curious to what has been making the dime and quarter sized holes in my backyard. Your link says I could have voles, which I had never heard of, but they like roots and I have potatoes and radishes in my garden….not to mention everything else.

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  10. Jana, your portrait of the squirrel is just marvellous. I absolutely love this little painting. I just had to laugh out loud. Thanks for the smile!!!
    I wonder what you will find out about the critter digging holes in your garden. What a mystery!!!!

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    • Thanks Petra. Nice to hear from you! It seems my mystery guest has moved on to greener pastures as I have not captured any footprints in the baby powdered board in the backyard. Glad you like Joe Cool squirrel. I enjoyed meeting him at the marina. Such a cutie. Jana

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  11. Your images are superb. What camera do you use?

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    • Thanks Kat, I was just using my little Panasonic point and shoot with a 10x zoom. It’s a great camera but without a viewfinder it can be tricky seeing what you’re getting in the bright sun. It’s a Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ4, about a year old. I also have a Canon T2i Digital SLR but only carry that when I’m intentionally going to be taking photos. The Panasonic I always have with me. Jana

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