Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Perfect Day for Pikas

When I awoke on the eighth of September it was still dark outside. Looking out my bedroom window I could see by the stars that it was clear up top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Quietly I gathered my gear and made my way out of the house. I made sure to grab my hat and gloves as I headed out the door. There was very little traffic as I made my way into Estes and then on through the unmanned North entrance into the park.I drove slowly up past Hidden Valley, Many Parks Curve and Rainbow Curve. The sun was just starting to hit the horizon by the time I drove past Lava Cliffs. I wound my way downward towards Poudre Lake and the Kawuneeche Valley I was hoping to see some Moose but I didn't have any luck. I tuned around and went back up the pass to an area near Rock Cut. I parked the car and checked the thermometer on the car. It was 39 degrees F and there was a light wind blowing but the sun was out. There was a little bit of cloud cover moving in to make the lighting just perfect. I definitely needed the hat and gloves! I found a spot on a rock just off the road and sat down and waited. I could hear the warning calls of the Pika from the tundra all around me. I have always found patience to be the number one tool in a photographer's arsenal to getting good images of Pikas. Just find a spot, sit down and wait. Don't make sudden move and they will soon figure out that you aren't a threat. After about ten minutes I had one run right past my left foot and stop and look at me from less than three feet away. Which of course was far to close for me to photograph with my big telephoto lens! I watched and watched until I got a much better idea of their travel routes and then I moved about fifteen feet away to where I could see the haystack one of the Pikas was building. As I was sitting there I watched and waved to my brother who drove past on a photography tour. Later on he told me that he made fun of my hat and gloves to his clients. He said, "Only a Californian would need to have them!". After they had passed I spent over two hours photographing Pikas until the light started getting too harsh for photography. Of course I stopped and photographed the old codgerly Marmot sentry on the way out. I had a really wonderful time especially since this was my last day in RMNP and I got to spend time photographing one of my favorite animals. God's light and love to all, chrisAll images were created with my Canon 7DmkII and my injured Tamron 150-600mm lens.I must say it did a fantastic job for a broken lens don't you think?


  1. They are adorable! I am guessing the one is yawning that looks so fierce? :-) Love the Marmot close up! Your lens did great!

  2. Thanks Shelly. I agree. They are adorable. You are correct the fierce one is yawning. But wow look at those sharp little teeth!