This pika was busy gathering plants while we ate our lunch above Source Lake the other day.
I am always glad to see them and hear their delightful vocalizations. As we headed down we ran into a botanist who pointed out a fascinating plant to us: a Common Butterwort, Pinguiluca vulgaris.
She explained that this plant catches insects in its sticky leaves. When I got home I looked it up in Dee Strickland's book Alpine Wildflowers, which is full of gorgeous close-up photos--thus it is one of my favorites! He writes, Because the water in high mountains, especially near snow banks, lacks minerals and nutrients, the plant uses insects to supplement its nutrient needs. Look for this fascinating little carnivore in midsummer. Here we saw it in late summer, but in this location the snow retreated very late. And it also explains why we saw the plant here, as the snow and steep slope and runoff probably prevent soil from developing the neccessary nutrients.