Baby marmots and me

Okay, I know if you put "baby" in front of anything, you pretty much get everyone's attention... am I right? 

Welcome to my time in nature's nursery.

There's a point along the Trans Canada Trail near Christina Lake, where you walk through some carved out areas with high, rocky banks that the former railroad tracks used to pass through. Marmots like rocky areas and you're sure to see a few, standing up on their back legs looking out for possible danger. Or, you might hear them with their high-pitched, whistle-squeaks, warning their buddies of trespassers. I always feel like I'm walking into some sort of ambush when I hike along this area, seeing heads poking up on both sides of the trail, high above, and warning sounds being passed back and forth. It's a good thing they don't hunt humans and have a vegetarian diet! 

I've been wanting to get some pictures of this species of large squirrels (yes, squirrels believe it or not) and decided to climb up to the top of one of these rocky sections a few weeks ago, hoping to get a shot. What I didn't expect to see up there was seven sets of little eyes staring back at me from various locations among the rocks. Yes, babies

Babies everywhere!!

Now I don't believe I've ever encountered a baby marmot before, never-mind even thought about one. The ones I see on the hillsides around here during these months are very well grown up. They lounge around on the warm rocks or munch away on green grasses in the fields. How they survive the summer heat in such furry coats is mind-boggling. I find them an adorable sight that I look forward to each year. Discovering their young ones has taken my marmot love up a whole level. 

When I first saw these little guys, I was scared they'd dive into holes in the pile of rocks and hide. But, they seemed as curious about me as I was about them and we pretty much had a stare-off happening within minutes. There are days I decide not to carry around an extra 4 pounds of telephoto lens in my pack and wish I did. This was one of those days. Telephoto lenses are essential for those close-up wildlife shots, which I knew wouldn't be much of a problem with how this meet-an- greet was going. So I made a plan to return the next day. 

When I returned with my extra four pounds of lens, the scene was pretty much the same. This time momma (or maybe daddy?) marmot was there and took off to a location far enough to watch the babies, but not be in too much danger herself. I was really surprised the little ones didn't follow. I settled down with my camera on a low, flat rock about 15 feet away from my subjects. Once in a while, momma would whistle-squeak a warning and the babies would inch back into the rocks. But they returned just as quick to watch me watching them. The photo-ops came easily. I took shots, enjoyed my furry little companions, and made sure I didn't overstay my welcome. 

Then, I got to come home and look at these adorable babies again while I went through all the photos.

 

Parent marmot keeping an eye on me and babies.

 

It's moments like these that I am so grateful for my love of the outdoors, living where I live, and following my passion for photography. I encountered a question the other day, which was, "What is it that you love about being a photographer?" My response is: Sharing the beauty of the world, a special moment, or something that someone may never get to see themselves.  So, if you were like me and never saw a baby marmot before... hope you enjoy seeing these photos as much as I do sharing them!