Creatures big and small passed in front of my lenses over my past photo year. No matter their size, all were special to see from the pika and mink to the bison, bighorn and pronghorn. Here’s a look back at my favorite mammal captures from my past photo year.
With fall officially here, snow will soon be coming soon and these littles ones are busy preparing to hunker down for the next several months. Pika don’t hibernate so they need to gather quite a lot to sustain themselves during winter when most of their habitat is covered in snow.
On a recent stop on Trail Ridge Road, I spent some time photographing them going about their busy work. This one paused briefly, took a break, and looked out over the alpine tundra.
The pika are very busy gathering food and nesting material to sustain them during the coming winter which is not far off now. They furiously run from their home to the nearby greenery on the tundra, grab a bunch of material, then run back to their home to deposit it.
For little guys, they move extraordinarily fast and catching action shots of them is a real challenge. I managed a few shots of this one as it went about its seasonal prep, this one being my favorite. It is entirely airborne and, check out those tiny pads on its little front feet! Crazy cute!
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. They can, however, only go so far before they run out of room and are no longer able to find the environment they need to survive.
Kind of a fun shot. I liked how this little guy / gal was just sitting and seeming to wait for some warmth to take the chill off the air at 14,000 feet. The sun was just starting to touch its face, making for a cool scene. I know I was a lot happier once the sun hit me than I was before it came up!
Our trip into the rarified air at 14,000+ feet of altitude allowed me to spot a number of these cool little critters although only one wanted to cooperate for pictures. I keyed in on its distinctive ‘bark’ and was able to spot it as it sat on its rocky perch, taking a break. With a good bit of snow lingering in the Colorado high country, it is probably a bit tough for these guys to begin their gathering for next winter. While it is somewhat green up there now, it isn’t as abundant as normal with the flora being slow to awaken thanks to colder-than-normal temperatures the last couple of months.
Going back to July for this pic I haven’t shared previously. Visits to high altitude always include trying to get pictures of these miniature residents. They are so cute and highly entertaining.
This little one stopped and posed briefly, taking a break from gathering for the winter. It wasn’t until I got home and processed the pictures that I noticed a second, far smaller creature in the image – a ladybug – on the grass right in front of the pika. Kind of fun!
Last but not least in my look back at my photo year, we come to mammals big and small – with a reptile thrown in for good measure as well. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to photograph so many of the creatures which we share this planet with. Each one is special and each chance to see them thrills me. Enjoy this view of pika, marmots, bison, foxes, bears and so much more!
One of the things that always strikes me as amusing about these high-altitude residents are those whiskers. They seem to me to be ridiculously long, something highlighted in this image thanks to the lighting. Oh, and check out those cute little feet! 😉
Last weekend I photographed a number of these cool little dudes although most of the pics were lacking action like this one, just a pika posing. With the first snows of the season reported at Colorado’s highest altitudes this past week, these guys will be furiously working to prepare their dens for the coming winter.
When you are as small as an American pika, you are most often looking up at things. No doubt, when the opportunity presents itself, it is nice for them to find some high ground to get a good look around.
This little one was doing just that, picking the tallest rock in the area and then pausing to take in the view. That sounds a lot like what I do when I am out taking pictures. 😉
I know that is what I was thinking and I suspect this American pika was thinking much the same.
I had taken a seat among a bunch of rocks, keeping watch for these little high-country residents. As I watched one, straight ahead, I caught some motion our of the corner of my eye. Turning, there was this pika, staring right at me. Quickly, I pivoted and snapped a few pics before it scurried off.
Taken this past weekend, I had a pretty good morning with these guys, getting some cool shots. Most notable was the picture I did not get – one of a baby pika. Not far from where I saw this guy, I was watching another when the tiniest pika I have ever seen appeared. I swear it wasn’t much bigger than a golf ball. Sadly, it quickly disappeared but it was pretty exciting to see.