Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 09/11/2014

Photo taken on August 19, 2014

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Panasonic DMC-FZ200
Anne Elliott
American Pika
Highway 40
Ochonta princeps
6-9 inches long
side view
wild animal
Rocky Mountains
cold climates

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A change from Marmots

A change from Marmots
11 September 2014

A day to remember the horrific events of 11 September 2001. So many mental images that will never, ever leave our minds and hearts. People from so many different countries, not just the US. So many stories of loss and heartbreak - and so many stories of bravery and heroic actions. Remembering .... all those who lost their lives on that fateful day: all those who lost loved ones and close friends or fellow workers; all those who rushed in to "do their job" or "to help others" in any way they could. Remembering .... all those who were severely injured on that fateful day and who have bravely suffered every day since then; all those Firemen, Emergency Medical people, Police - men and women, who have suffered and continue to suffer emotionally and physically, including illnesses caused by being exposed to harmful chemicals. The list goes on and on. Remembering ... and praying that we never see another day like 11 September 2001.

On 19 August 2014, I was lucky enough to have the chance to try and photograph a couple of these absolutely adorable little creatures : ) After a while, I was beginning to despair of ever getting any decent shots at all. These tiny Pikas, also known as Rock Rabbits, hardly ever remain still and they are extremely fast! Imagine a mountain hillside covered in sharp, jagged rocks of all sizes and then try to picture how difficult it is to find in the viewfinder the single rock on which one of these Pikas might happen to sit for a second or two, lol! As time passed, I managed to take quite a few photos, though many needed to be deleted. Hope you don't get tired of seeing these little guys, but they are just so very cute. A couple of times, this Pika came bounding over the rocks near to where we were standing and just sat there, long enough to get a few very close shots. They are about 15 to 23 centimetres (5.9 to 9.1 in) in body length, so really are pretty small.

I've just found this excellent and amusing YouTube video, 3:30 minutes long, It is The American Pika in the BBC's Life of Mammals series.

The weather forecast was not good for that day, but we were so lucky that, apart from a few raindrops, the rain stayed away. The sun actually came out at two locations we stopped at for a short while. Our 18-hour day (from 6;00 a.m. till midnight!) started off with the thrill of seeing these Pikas and ended with a brief sighting of a black Wolf (could it be Skoki?) crossing the road ahead of us in the dark. It disappeared into the blackness, but shortly afterwards, we heard three (possibly four) separate Wolves howling way off in the distance. We just stood there, in total awe, listening to this amazing sound. The only wild Wolf I had ever seen before was when I was in Yellowstone National Park two years ago. Friends and I saw two Wolves feeding on a Bison carcass across a huge valley - so they were just distant specks, that became larger specks when my camera was in full zoom, ha.

In between these two highlights, we saw several Deer, a small group of Mountain Sheep on the road, a tiny Chipmunk, a few Cedar Waxwings, Columbian Ground Squirrels, a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk that sat on a branch out in the open for a long time, and two tiny Bats that flew very close over our heads when it was getting dark. We also saw an adult Grouse (Spruce Grouse?) with two young ones.

Then, of course, there is the scenery! Blue sky to go with the splendour of the mountains would have been wonderful, but we had been having cold and gloomy weather for a while before this day out. Highway 40 and the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail both run through such spectacular scenery, so it was a real treat for me, especially as I won't drive to those areas myself.

Chrissy has particularly liked this photo