One last “top shots” video recapping my 2020 photo year. Today, I look back at some of the mammals that I photographed. From the tiny American pika to the massive moose, I was fortunate to spend time with some pretty amazing creatures. Two new animals that I had never photographed were highlights including a suburban bobcat family and the wild #horses of Sand Wash Basin. All images taken here in Colorado.
This little one seemed to have finished its winter preparations as it didn’t spend any time gathering, instead choosing to simply find a spot out of the wind at 12,000+ feet altitude (not an easy task).
I had yet to photograph any of these tiny creatures this year so Saturday I made it my mission to do so. The wind was miserable and while it wasn’t terribly cold, it was enough to keep me shivering, largely due to me forgetting gloves. 😀
Thankfully, the little pika took mercy on me and would pose occasionally, giving me some nice shots before retreating to the warmth of the car and a return to warmer, lower altitudes.
Taken on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
One for Throwback Thursday going to this past September. This was on my last visit of the season to Mount Evans, just before they closed the road for the winter. Up until then, I hadn’t done a very good job documenting these little high altitude creatures for the year but that changed on this day.
This pika in particular turned out to be quite a willing photo subject. I had staked out a spot on a rock in the talus field, patiently waiting for one of the little guys to pop out. Before long, it appeared and paid little attention to me.
Here, it hopped up on a rock not 20 feet away, taking a break from gathering food for the coming change of seasons. These little guys are highly entertaining and almost always in motion. When they stop, you better be ready to take the picture.
The change of seasons is fast approaching and at high altitude, it will be here very, very soon. These little guys know their summer is short and spend most of their time gathering for the colder weather.
I was photographing the sunrise when I heard the unmistakable ‘bark’ of a pika behind me. Once the sun fully came up, I stood and watched and soon spotted this little one dashing out to some foliage, gathering it, and running back to its home in the talus.
I took a seat on a rock nearby and spent an hour or so photographing and watching it go about its routine.
Pika are small creatures but a fitting one to share for National Wildlife Day as a reminder of the wide variety of wildlife that we share this world with and need to always be mindful of.
After a couple of hours on Mount Evans recently, it looked like the pika weren’t going to play. I looked and listened but was having no luck spotting these tiny, high altitude creatures.
As I was driving down, I had my window rolled down and heard the unmistakable ‘bark’ of one. Coming to a stop on the side of the road, I got out and walked toward where I thought I heard the noise.
Not seeing anything, I simply sat down and waited. Sure enough, after a bit this little one emerged from its hiding place and gave me a few, quick pictures.
Such fun creatures to photograph but not always easy to do so. They are always on the move, scrambling to gather food before winter arrives. Yesterday, this little American Pika was kind enough to take a break and pose about five feet away. I can’t help but be struck by how darned long those whiskers are!
When you are one of the smallest creatures in the big mountains, it is tough to see around, particularly for a Pika who lives in talus fields with rocks that for us would be the equivalent size of a house. This little guy (or gal) had a nice solution.
One particular rock that almost seemed to be turned on its end stood tall above the surrounding landscape and made the perfect perch for the Pika to check out those gorgeous Rocky Mountains.
If this were a bigger critter, it might be intimidating. 😉
Always one of the highlights of my high altitude visitors are these little dudes. Staking out some of my usual spots among the rocks on Mount Evans yesterday, I could hear them frequently but was only able to get good pics of one. This guy (or gal) was unbothered by my presence and came right up to me. Here you can see it as it approached.
Usually found above timberline in western North America, these tiny residents are among the high altitude’s most active – during the summer. Despite their size, they are among the toughest mammals, spending their entire lives in the harsh, high altitude environment.
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.
Such a cutie! I had a rather charmed encounter with this little critter back in August. I hiked into a talus field near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to catch images of some of the Pika as they scurried about. This particular one proved to be highly entertaining.
It was quite tolerant of me, approaching at times within a foot of me, sometimes pausing to check me out and make sure I meant no harm but largely going about its busy work. This afforded me the opportunity to get some great captures, including this one as it cleaned up after having a morning snack.
It is pretty rare that the tiny American Pika stops long enough for you to compose a nice closeup. This particular one though did just that for me back in August. Despite the fact I was hanging out mere feet from its den, it seemed to revel in all the attention I was giving it and was very comfortable with me.
More than once we shared the same rock in the talus field as it would scurry right by me, sometimes pausing, sometimes rushing about gathering food to stash in its den for the season.
One time it made me a bit uncomfortable by actually stopping and resting on my foot! I couldn’t help but worry about the little dude scurrying up my pant leg. Ha! Unfortunately that was too close for my lens to focus to get it sitting there but it was kind of fun.
Right now these little ones are staying warm inside their dens, many probably under the snow by now. They don’t hibernate so rely on food they gathered during the summer months to sustain them.