Monday, July 19, 2010

Arapaho Lakes - Fur

Back online - with a post that includes honest to goodness photographs this time!

Over the weekend I escaped the heat by heading up into the mountains with some friends. Camping well above 10,000 feet is a recommended activity when the thermometer is registering triple digit temps! On Friday two friends and I headed from a trailhead near Forest Lakes on a hike that crossed several ridges, hanging mostly around treeline.

The birding didn't include a lot of diversity, but had a real highlight that will be featured in a future post. For now though, the mammals get the spotlight. The critter above is one of my favorites in the high-country - the Yellow-bellied Marmot. Like the one above, they seem to really like perching on rocks and soaking up the sun. It makes them a fun photographic target.

This next mammal is a little less obvious, but a few minutes sitting still above the lakes let me get a few shots to welcome it to the blog:

The Pika. (PYE-kÉ™)

Pikas live in the Alpine environment, and seem to love scurrying around in the scree fields. Their coloring and small size makes them nearly invisible, only really showing up when they make a dash across an open space. Perhaps because of their well suited cammo they will perch in the open - so a bit of patience can pay off when they do reemerge from the rocks or their burrows.

Those big ears may make them look like cartoon characters, but listening for predators is no laughing matter. Pausing to take a look around helps to.

It never pays to stray to far from a nice safe crease in the rock - where shelter is just a hop away. For this little Pika there was no threat, its efforts gathering grass for a nest were undisturbed. I had a good time stopping to watch this one as it darted back and forth across the clumps of grass, hopefully I'll get a few more sightings before they hunker down for winter.


  1. I haven't seen a Pika in awhile. Great shots! I'm heading up to RMNP Wednesday to look for Ptarmigan again.

  2. Those are really cute shots of the little critter!