On yesterday morning’s walk, I stopped at a place near the river where I had seen many gopher holes a few days prior.

This worked out to be the warm up phase for my walk, so I was able to give the photo a bit of time.

I squatted near a gopher hole and waited. I was happy it was early morning and there were no other people on the trail at that time. They may have wondered what I was up to.

Sure enough, it didn’t take long for this little critter to start poking his nose in and out of his front door. He’d take one look at me and then quickly retreat to the safety of his house, only to repeat the scouting a few seconds later. I was patient and waited for one occasion when he’d check me out for more than a second so I could get the photo.

Despite the fact that they’re terrible pests and a bane to gardeners, farmers, ranchers, and lawn sport enthusiasts (remember the movie Caddyshack?), gophers are an important part of the ecosystem. One source explains their usefulness like this, “They increase soil fertility by mixing plant material and fecal wastes into the soil. Their burrowing aerates the soil and decreases its compaction. They can help speed up the formation of new soil by bringing minerals to the surface.

And seriously, how could you hate that face?

Patience and taking time to set up the shot paid off. The direction also worked out to catch the morning sunlight on this little guy’s face. Overall, I’m very pleased with the photo. I did no post processing except to crop for optimal size.

“All animals (but men) know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it – and they do enjoy it as much as man and other circumstances will allow it.”

Samuel Butler