I decided to go back to the original slope I first worked in June. The rocks are almost as colorful and the backdrop is probably better.
I climbed down into the rocks and set up my camera trap. Finding a good overlook where I could photograph and keep an eye on my trap at the same time, I set up my tripod and began scanning for movement. Suddenly, I realized a loud sound was approaching form the east. Motion caught my eye thirty feet away. A weasel popped up to peer at me curiously. As I watched a helicopter rose up behind the little predator sending it scrambling downslope. I'm sure it felt it was racing for its life.
The helicopter roared on by. The weasel was gone. Shoot! What could have been watching a weasel hunt around me for ten minutes or so, ended before it got started! A pika appeared below me and began gathering grass. The weasel had just gone through a minute ago, so obviously the pika hadn't detected the presence of it's enemy.
I decided to sit tight and see if the weasel might return. It seemed, by its size, to be an adult female. Maybe it's out hunting for its young.
An hour passed. Pika were calling and hauling grass all around me. Presently a pika passed by me traveling toward my camera trap. He stopped and studied the black object for a bit, then began to investigate. Usually when I click the shutter, they jump away and become extremely wary, but this little guy became even more curious with every click. Finally, he moved away only to pause, look back and return to the camera. This time he climbed over it before giving the camera a good kick.
Once again it moved off, climbinmg past me to disappear over the ridge high above. I thought that was that, but then here he came again, bit by bit until it once again approached the camera. Acting like it was seeing it for the first time, it sniffed and investigated paying no attention to the clicking sound.
I was back at dawn, soon to be joined by George Clokey and twenty plus students from WhiteWater University, Wisconsin. I pointed out my camera trap to them and we sat quietly in the rocks to watch for pika. Sure enough, my little fella from the day before soon appeared above us. Causiously, he pikced his way through all the people to once again approach the camera trap. Even with two dozen kids watching, he just couldn't leave it alone!