Joel and I took a much needed break out to Kananaskis, two hours west of us. Along a walk in a mountain valley, I encountered a pair of Columbia Ground Squirrels. While one scampered off, another let me take photographs. At first the rodent dove down into one of her holes, but after a while she'd get curious and come back out. I just had my wide angle lens so I knew I had to get relatively close to capture a photo yet try not to cause her too much anxiety. I'm saying she but I have no idea whether this was the male or female. Either way, a very curious friend. I'd snap a few photos and then she'd head down into the hole. If I waited a bit, she'd pop her head out again to see what I was doing. So each time she went back into her hole, I'd take two or three steps closer. Then she'd pop out again and I'd snap some photos. When I was at a further distance, she was willing to stand on two hind legs to watch me. As I got closer, she remained on all four legs; I think to ensure she'd have a quicker get away if need be.
When I got home, I had to research exactly what kind of animal this was. She looks so much like a gopher and yet the gopher is more sandy brown to blend into the prairies. She has a distinct red nose. I learned there are a variety of different ground squirrels. But this is a Columbia one, distinct to the Rocky Mountains.
This little one was fairly obliging and tolerant so I did thank her as I left her backyard!
Looking forward to more hikes this summer as maybe we'll encounter this friend again.