For Camera Critters and Scenic Sunday, I am taking you back up into the vast alpine belt of the far western Mongolian province of Hovd. There in the desolate wilderness we did not see many wild animals.
So when our driver Magsar spotted this furry ball, he stopped the van and went out for a closer look.
What his keen eye had seen is this little creature.
It's a marmot, a Mongolian marmot, a rodent species closely related to the squirrel and groundhog. Marmots live in mountainous areas, eat mainly greens and hibernate in burrows through the long winters. This chubby little fella looks pretty well satiated to me, don't you agree?
A final piece of trivia: Marmots are hunted during a designated season - usually late summer or early fall when their furs are perfect - and are roasted on an open fire with hot stones in the cleaned belly to cook it inside and out. You can read about boodog, this Mongolian cooking style, in gory detail here.