Yellow-bellied Marmot in a Crevice with Lichen Covered Rocks

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Yellow-bellied Marmot in a rocky creviceYellow-bellied Marmot in a rocky crevice – Nikon D500, f8, 1/400, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was able to get out to go looking for birds and wildlife to photograph yesterday and although it wasn’t exceptionally birdy where I went there were other creatures out and about that made my day interesting and fun.

I am very fond of Yellow-bellied Marmots so when I spotted one clambering down some rocks into a crevice close to the road I became excited and as soon as I could I started taking photos of it. I’d seen my first of the year Yellow-bellied Marmot the day before sunning itself on top of a dam at Willard Bay the day before while on I-15 heading south but wasn’t able to photograph it.

But this marmot was very close and cooperative.

Curious Yellow-bellied MarmotCurious Yellow-bellied Marmot – Nikon D500, f10, 1/250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yellow-bellied Marmots are the western cousin of groundhogs but they prefer higher elevations than groundhogs do. They hibernate for up to 200 days in a year and usually start coming out of their burrows in April.

I don’t think this Yellow-bellied Marmot could have picked a more aesthetically pleasing part of the rocky outcrop to pose on.

Yellow-bellied Marmot in a creviceYellow-bellied Marmot in a crevice – Nikon D500, f9, 1/640, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

The rocks were covered in dark gray, brown, white, yellow and orange lichens which echoed the colors of the Yellow-bellied Marmot’s coat. I photographed it for about 4 minutes with my teleconverter on to get close up images of it and then removed the teleconverter in case the marmot moved out of the crevice so I could get full body photos.

Yellow-bellied Marmot on the rocksYellow-bellied Marmot on the rocks – Nikon D500, f9, 1/640, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

A pickup truck rumbled by on the dirt road and that may have stopped the marmot from moving out of the crevice because it never ventured any further out and eventually moved into the crevice and out of my sight.

The first marmots that come out of their burrows are the males but I can’t be sure of the sex of this one at all. Someday I hope to get images of marmot pups when they come out of the burrows in June or July, I have seen them but have never been able to get high quality images of them.

Yellow-bellied Marmot with lichen covered rocksYellow-bellied Marmot with lichen covered rocks – Nikon D500, f9, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

Seeing and photographing this Yellow-bellied Marmot absolutely made yesterday brighter for me.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover March 4, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Nice series of a favorite of mine too. I especially like the second image.

  2. Elephant's Child March 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Such a stylish charmer.

  3. Jane Chesebrough March 4, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    I love these shots-very pleasing to the eye. Since it is only March perhaps this mammal was deciding whether to venture out or just go back to bed.

  4. Azstu March 4, 2017 at 11:18 am

    great set of images.

  5. Carol Mattingly March 4, 2017 at 10:35 am

    He nearly blends right in Mia. All your photos inspire me. Carol

  6. Patty Chadwick March 4, 2017 at 8:44 am

    That is one cute face!!! These are the perfect pictures of a golden marmot in its perfect, preferred habitat…wonderful!!!

  7. Liz Cormack March 4, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Between the colouring of the marmot & the colouring of the lichen I’m surprised you even saw the marmot. Wonderful shots as usual.

  8. Glen Fox March 4, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Great images Mia. Terrific framing. Thank you for sharing this harbinger of Spring.

  9. Esther March 4, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Great images! So much nicer than their east coast cousins.

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