Well, not the whole thistle, just its flower. At the same rest stop where we watched chipmunks eating berries, there were Columbia Ground Squirrels (Urocitellus columbines) scurrying about on an embankment.
They stood up to watch us, creating a short staring contest with my son, before resuming their runs from rock to rock and other spots around the hillside. I was in a good position when one of them approached a thistle because it was a few feet away and the squirrel ran towards me with little regard for me or my camera.
The dexterity of its fingers and the delicate nibbling were really cool to watch up close. And provided a nice distraction from the drive.
During the short, warm months in the alpine elevations, the Columbia Ground Squirrels are a flurry of activity digging, eating, chirping and raising little ones. Bobbi and I headed up to Sunshine Meadows to hike around and enjoy the wildflowers that are in bloom right now. Along the trails these squirrels were busy with their daily activities and we both had a lot of fun watching these creatures.
All along High,way 40 which runs through the heart of Kananaskis and winds through spectacular scenery, there are Columbia ground squirrels (Urocitellus columbianus) scurrying around. They are pretty low on the food chain so they are wary critters. When there is any noise or motion approaching they stand upright and assess the danger. When something gets too close, they chirp out a warning and then dive for one of the holes connecting to their hillside tunnel complex.
This little guy watched me from his mound above the pullout while I was loading up for a hike near the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park entrance. I was happy to have this little creature stand for a short portrait session.