I got up very early this morning to get to this location before sunrise to capture the snow capped mountains amongst the flowering rhododendrons, and I was rewarded in so many ways. The vista was absolutely stunning, but I encountered so many incredible rhododendrons, birds and also mammals. Among them a group of pikas roaming around the open and grassy patch between the rhododendrons and firs.

At first I just noticed something in the corner of my eye moving fast on the ground. I stopped and noticed one out in the open a bit further away. It turned out to be a group of them, roaming in and out of their burrows as if in a kindergarten. They would run, then stop to eat, sniff the air and check the surroundings. It was hilarious to watch all these furry balls crisscrossing the ground, and to my delight without regarding me or my guide as any kind of threat. In fact in particular one, this one, came up so close we could have touched it.

It appeared we were standing very close to its burrow, or rather one of them, and it went inside only to stand in the opening seconds later to look at us, then venture out again to eat or greet the other pikas.

There was no fights or territorial behaviour during my encounter, so I assume this is an extended family working together to get a better chance in life.

At this altitude it is still cold at night in mid-April, and you can see the frost on the piece of bark it’s standing on, but the sun was moving fast in the sky and soon the air would be balmy and pleasant.

Prior to this encounter I had only briefly seen individual pikas, and too short to even photograph them, so this was an amazing encounter of these really cute mammals.

I’m not certain which species of pika this is, but it’s digging burrows in the soil, which is a species indicator. The location should also be a species indicator.

Elevation: 3276 meters

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