Reader Joe Dickinson is back with some photos from the Rockies. By the way, my photo tank is running low, and if new ones don’t come in, I’ll have to stop this endeavor in a week. You know what to do.
Joes’s notes are indented.
Here are some photos from a recent trip to Glacier National Park in in Montana and on up to Waterton and Banff in Alberta. Sightings of “big game” were disappointingly sparse (or distant), but I think I got a few worthwhile shots.
This Columbian ground squirrel (Citellus columbianus) was on the grounds of the historic Glacier Park Lodge.
A few bison (Bison bison) have been introduced at Waterton, where they occupy a nice prairie habitat near the eastern edge of the park.
We saw good numbers of both mountain goats and bighorn sheep on distant slopes, but only got reasonably close to some ewes and lambs of the latter species (Ovis canadensis).
We saw only one elk (Cervus canadensis), but it was a nice bull.
An interesting aside: Canada has provided overpasses for large animals at frequent intervals where the Trans-Canada Highway passes through parks. This may help to avoid subdividing populations into smaller isolates that are more prone to loss of genetic diversity and local extinction.
In a rock slide that forms the dam impounding Moraine Lake in Banff, I found a golden-mantled squirrel (Citellus lateralis) and an American pika (Ochotona princeps). The squirrel struck me as paler, particularly on the flanks, than the ones I am used to seeing in California – perhaps a distinct subspecies? As for the Pika, I felt I was playing peekaboo with him and never got a shot looking him in the eye. Still, he is so cute that I include what I did get.
Finally, a scenic shot of Moraine Lake, widely considered to be more beautiful than the nearby, more famous, Lake Louise. The talus slopes on the flanks of the surrounding mountains are typical habitat for pikas.