Photography by Jim Doty

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Pika on the Tundra near Trail Ridge Road.
Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado.

This pika was busy collecting "hay" for the winter. There were several constantly scurrying about in the grass between the rocks collecting food. Living at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, there is snow cover for 8 months out of the year. They don't hibernate so they only have 4 months to collect enough food to last through the long winter. These cute little fur balls are about the size of a human fist. This one seemed to have a preference for the yellow flowers in the area. Located close to a parking area on Trail Ridge Road, several people had gathered to watch them gather food.. The most frequently overheard comment: "They're SO cute!"

They moved so quickly and erratically that autofocus was almost useless. I noticed that this particular pika would sometimes stop for a brief moment on the same rock on the trips back to stash the latest load of food. I focused manually on the rock and waited. It took a few trips before there was another pause on the rock and "CLICK" I had my photo.

At 7:13 pm light levels were starting to drop so I bumped the ISO up to 400 to get a useable shutter speed with an aperture of f/8 for a little extra depth of field insurance.

Data: Canon 20D Digital SLR. 100-400mm zoom lens at 400mm (equivalent to a 640mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Aperture: f/8. Shutter 1/160 second. ISO 400.

June 26, 2006

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