Mammals, Too

We were pretty much surrounded by a Gunnison’s Prairie Dog colony, and heard them call from the meadow across the stream. A couple were sitting upright in the distance. Then a herd of Elk (Cervus elaphus) charged across the colony, surprisingly quiet, through the stream and into the misty meadow beyond. Cervus elaphusWe also saw two other species of p-dogs, the Utah and White-tailed, on our perambulations. Ovis canadensis nelsoniDesert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) in Zion National Park. This one was sitting right above the road and was soon joined by a small flock.Ovis canadensis nelsoniOdocoileus hermionusThis Mule Deer (Odocoileus hermionus) fawn was in Zion Canyon itself with its mother. There were also sightings of White-tailed Deer.
Spermophilus variegatusRock Squirrel (Spermophilus variegatus) seen in a number of places, including Picture Canyon east of Flagstaff. Spermophilus lateralisGolden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis) at Cedar Breaks.m6OK, I’m still confused by all the chipmunks and ground squirrels that are found out there, so let’s just enjoy this one, photographed on Bright Angel Point, North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We had an interesting experience with a Coyote (Canis latrans), which we scared from the road. The wild dog circled our van at a good distance twice — it was a very empty road — running hard and looking at “us,” — the van, that is — all the time, trying perhaps to figure out if it/we were dangerous, before returning to the last bits of a road kill which it had been scavenging. Gory, stretched viscera.

But perhaps the highlight of the mammal action was this Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata). Sorry about the auto-focus; hard to observe and document at the same time.Mustela frenataI heard a strange abbreviated squeal and then saw this long lean animal bounding down along the edge of a concrete path, with something in its mouth. It ran off the path. I shouted to my travel companions “Ferret, or something!” or something like that, and then I saw the weasel again ducking under some rocks. It started to shoot, snake might be a better word, back and forth under this rock and then closer and closer and closer to the path again. I surmised it had dropped its prey and wanted to return to it, a half dozen humans be damned. I bid everyone still. It did get closer and closer, and finally, rooting around in some tall grass, it emerged, with the prey — which looked ratty. The weasel was two-toned, tan on top and creamy below, with a black tip to the tail.

2 Responses to “Mammals, Too”

  1. 1 Elizabeth September 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Enviable sightings!

  2. 2 Kelly York October 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    I like that weasel!

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