I made a quick trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park and Trail Ridge Road yesterday. While had little luck with ‘big’ wildlife, the smaller creatures provided plenty of opportunities. Among them was this cute, little Pika who took a brief break from gathering food to take in the rising sun.
There was definitely a feeling of fall in the air at 12,000 feet as temperatures were only in the mid-30s in the hour or so after the sun rose. I didn’t linger long as I had failed to bring appropriate gear for that kind of chill!
It’s been a while since I have posted a picture of these little ones and I am feeling spring fever beginning to set in and the desire to return to high altitude to see them.
American Pikas are hardy little animals living above treeline in places where the winters can be completely inhospitable to most animals.
This particular one was hanging out in the rarefied air at about 12,000 feet near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park back in September. It had been furiously gathering food and nesting material for the coming winter but took a break just long enough for me to snap a picture of it.
Spend much time above timberline near any talus slope or rocky area and you are almost certain to find these little guys running around.
They are quite tolerant of people and once I spot one, I simply pull up a seat on a nearby rock and wait. Almost without fail they will reappear and carry on about their routine which this time of year involves gathering nesting material and food. They also are busy fattening themselves up for the coming winter, something which has become quite noticeable on my last few trips as they are getting quite chubby now.
This particular Pika was quite interested in me and after running a few ‘errands’ would stop on a rock 10 feet away and take a break watching me as I was watching it.
This cute little critter provided me with a great deal of entertainment a couple of weeks ago. Most of the time it was furiously running to and from its nest, bringing back mouthfuls of material each time.
Every now and then it would take a very brief break, stopping and sitting for a minute, seemingly just taking in the morning sun and catching its breath. It would then take off for another round of gathering.
American Pikas are hardy little animals living above treeline in places where the winters can be completely inhospitable to animals. This particular one was hanging out in the rarefied air at about 12,000 feet.
I had an absolutely fabulous time watching this little guy (or gal) near the top of Trail Ridge Road. I stopped to take pictures of Marmots and sat down on a large rock to watch. Well, it turns out this Pika’s nest was beneath my chosen stool. That didn’t bother it one bit however.
I watched it scamper out 20 yards or so, gather up some greenery, stop for a second to see if I was still there, then return and run right under the rock to place its new bedding. This repeated more than a dozen times before I moved on.
At one point it came up the opposite side of the rock and much to my surprise, when I turned around, there it was not 18 inches away looking at me. It let loose with a ‘bark’ that startled the heck out of me then went back about its day.
This little guy and a bunch of his friends were quite active along the talus slopes of the top of Montgomery Pass, Colorado in recent days. My son and I spend a good bit of time watching these entertaining creatures run around above timberline. It is said this species of pika may become a victim of a warming climate. Studies suggest the American Pika is being driven to higher elevations in search of cooler temperatures. As it moves higher however, it could eventually run out of places to go.