Altruistic

Jay Ryser

Lakewood, United States

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Artist's Description

Another morning at 14,000ft spent in the company of pikas.

The weather was a little funky – different cloud layers at different elevations with the sun bursting through in areas at lower elevations making for gorgeous vistas, then the summit totally in a cloud, obstructing views.

The cloud layer made spotting pikas even more difficult than usual – they were ghosts in the talus. I had to track his one down by trudging back and forth in the talus field, tip-toeing across jagged rocks that liked to shift underfoot.

I was finally able to catch this little guy very close to my position – this is full frame. Pikas and marmots are credited with being an altruistic species. If there’s danger nearby, they’ll bark out a warning to their neighbors, keeping themselves in harm’s way to do so.

He’s responding to another pika’s warning, passing along the warning to others in the colony (I don’t think this was related to me – there was a large group of noisy folks nearby that I think was the source of their alarm).

The bark is a surprisingly loud EEEENK. You usually hear that long before you spot a pika.

Pikas are considered at at-risk species due to climate change – they’re very vulnerable to warm weather. It’s estimated they can only survive a few hours if temps get above 75F. That makes it difficult for them to migrate to different areas, and there’s only so far they can move up a mountain until they run out of mountain.

Pika (Ochotona princeps)
Mt Evans Wilderness Area, CO
Sony a700
300mm f/2.8+1.4TC
Jobu gimbal, Feisol tripod

ISO 400, f/5.6, 420mm, 1/1000sec

I have a LOT more images on my WEB SITE

Artwork Comments

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