The Hunger Games: Squirrel 1, Hawk 0

What you’re looking at above (click it for the bigger picture) is not something you see everyday, nor the kind of life/death animal action many urban humans get to find themselves so close to. It’s a still from some really bad video I captured, depicting the last moment of a rather epic backyard fig tree battle between one of our rather unfriendly neighborhood squirrels and one of our ever-amazing neighborhood Cooper’s hawks.

It unfolded before my eyes when I stepped out into the backyard to sweep the patio of its freshly dropped batch of fig leaves and looked up into its boughs to find nothing less than the hawk sitting about eight feet above my head and in no hurry to leave, primarily because there was said squirrel — otherwise oblivious of the imminent threat — only a few feet away in same tree munching on an unripened fig.

Before I could finish saying “Holy smokes! I’ve never been this close to a Cooper’s hawk!” the predator dove at the squirrel into the densest part of the tree, and its prey skittered out of the way of the lunge.

A bit of a stand-off then ensued with the hawk only a few feet from the squirrel in the relative safety of the thicket of limbs and leaves who promptly went back to munching another unripened fig as if nothing had happened. I took the opportunity to run inside and get my camera and by the time I got back, not much time elapsed before the raptor made another unsuccessful attempt, followed by a final flapping and flourishing and also-failed attempt to sink its talons into its would-be meal, wherein it then flew off out of view in search of more easily attainable eats. The squirrel promptly went back to eating and as if on cue as I focused the camera on it, dropped a little poop pellet that could perhaps represent its thoughts of the ordeal it appeared to have already forgotten about.

The video below has its moments, but is mostly of the tree because it’s a bitch trying to eyeball the action while simultaneously trying to point the camera in the right place. Plus the density of the foliage made it difficult it locate and/or center either critter in the frame:


Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder

As part of a media event at the new Navitat Canopy Adventures, I was excited to be among a group of bloggers who got to experience this amazing new facility in scenic Wrightwood, Calif. And as a person with a distinct aversion for leaving perfectly solid ground and/or structures to go flying through the air, I was also more than a little bit terrified.

In the above helmetcam clip, I ride the longest segment of the course, a quarter-mile long cable strung across a deep canyon between two massive pines that can get you moving at 50 mph-plus. It’s literally mindblowing flying above and through the forest, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced or participated in ever before in my life. As you’ll see at the end of my ride, a come up little bit short on the end thanks to some serious winds and so I had to hand-over-hand it the last few feet to the platform. But after being unhooked by our lead guide Joe, I capture our other guide Lexie coming across and in for a textbook perfect finish. What an AMAZING place. Navitat’s season opens March 31.

Overall there are 10 different ziplines, three rappels and skybridges so I’ll have more clips and stills to come but in the meanwhile, for more info on Navitat Canopy Adventures and how to go get some of your own, visit