Curious Yellow-bellied Marmot – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Yellow-bellied Marmots aren’t as famous as Groundhogs but they are closely related and when poor Punxsutawney Phil gets dragged out of his den this morning by a man in a crazy top hat to see if he sees his shadow to predict six more weeks of winter or the arrival of spring his Western cousins, the Yellow-bellied Marmots, will be saved from that kind of human silliness.
So, what happens on Groundhog Day for Yellow-bellied Marmots? Not much because it is just another winter day for them and they are still hibernating. The Yellow-bellied Marmots here in northern Utah will be safe and snug in their burrows and the other marmots in western North America, the Olympic and Hoary Marmots, will be too.
Northern Utah Yellow-bellied Marmot portrait – Nikon D500, f9, 1/1000, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
I usually start seeing Yellow-bellied Marmots here in northern Utah at lower elevations around the first of March although I wouldn’t be surprised to see them earlier this year than that because we have been having a “non-winter” winter, meaning very little snow and far warmer temperatures than we usually have. It is only the second of February and grasses are already greening up and that just isn’t normal for here.
Wary Yellow-bellied Marmot pup – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
But whether the Yellow-bellied Marmots come out of their dens early or at their normal time this year won’t depend on whether they see their shadows today or not and I will be happy to see and photograph them because I adore these big, fluffy ground squirrels. Plus they are fun to watch and even more fun to photograph especially the Yellow-bellied Marmot pups when they come out of their burrows in the spring and spend their time playing with their siblings, nibbling on fresh spring grasses and forbs and as they go about their lives.
Punxsutawney Phil can have the spotlight today, our Yellow-bellied Marmots will have their time in the sun soon enough.
Life is good.