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on Jul 15, 2014 in Wildlife Photography

The Start of a Great New Project


It feels so good to be putting the one thing I’m great at, sitting on a rock and staring at a hole for 18hrs, in use! About a year ago, our dear friend and long time colleague, Patrick emailed me telling me there was a project I needed to get involved with. And it would seem the biologists involved knew of me because of my “flying pika” photo. Patrick is great, he put us together at the same time giving me a thumbs up rating. When working with biologists, especially new contacts, getting the recommendation from another noted researcher sure does help. So I made contact and we started to correspond by email. The great news, they welcomed me to join their Pika project. The bad news, I would have to wait nearly a year to get started. That’s the hardest thing for me to do!


Well the year is up and yesterday morning was my first field day. I’ve written a lot about our work with the Collared Pika, a great little critter in the far north. This critter, the American Pika can be found is many regions in North America and this project with this population is just 20min from our home! Not since working with the Gtr Sage Grouse have I had a project in my backyard. And what makes this Pika a bit different can best be described as it was described to me by the biologist, “the lowest and hottest.” Most of the time you’ll find pika on a talus slope edged with a cornucopia of fresh green forbes and shrubs in which to collect and make haystacks. This population is basically in the middle of a desert with not a sprig of grass to be found! Yet, this population is doing just fine even during our drought. “We thought they would have burnt up and disappeared with the no snow winter you had” the biologist said to me. How do they do it? That’s what we want to find out.


My roll is simple, take pictures. Well, if I do my job right, it will be easy. The one HUGE luxury this project affords me is it is only 20min away! Where normally I get on site for a project for a week at a time four or five times in twelve months. This one, I can work every day I want to which I can’t wait to exploit. This first morning was the walk around, get to know the research site and the critters I’ll be photographing. You see here in the top two photos #1 (in the shrub foraging and watching me) and the bottom photo is #0. I like him already! I walked the plot with my standard rig for the project: D4s mounted to the 800mm )w/TC-.25 connected) on the Gitzo 5561SGT w/ Wimberley Head with the most important tool, the Di-GPS connected. And do I have a specific photo to capture along with the basic biology that’s my normal M.O.? Oh ya, I most certainly do. The brass ring would be the photo of the pika running across the sand (I still can’t get over where they live) with grasses in its mouth. It has been seen once so it’s not impossible, but it is going to take the hours. It feels real good to be putting the one thing I’m great at, sitting on a rock and staring at a hole, to work again!