Spring Ptarmigan

April 12, 2015  •  1 Comment

Even though I live in Scotland there is something special about the Cairngorms located in the Highlands of Scotland. I had been trying to photograph Ptarmigan again since my first experience two years ago. Then there plumage was totally white as it was mid Winter but now in the Spring they had started to show quite a few darker feathers.

I had started the day with a 3 hour drive and so got to the car park at 8:30am and so started my climb. I walked for about an hour and as I got higher, it got colder and more windy. Looking back the car park was in glorious sunshine but it felt totally different in the mountain. I wondered in amazement how these birds survived such Arctic temperatures during the Winter months. After about another 30 mins I saw the first ptarmigans, male and female. During Spring they are often seen in pairs like this, and are sometimes more easily to approach.

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

I decided to climb higher and then descend into the Coire, thinking I would be sheltered from the wind. True enough the cloud dispersed and the wind dropped and the light improved. I could see a couple of birds flying in the distance so I knew I was on the right track. I decided to have a rest and a drink and a couple of snow bunting came over to check me out. Then a mountain hare ran across the last of the remaining snow lying in the Coire.

It wasn't long before I spotted a pair of ptarmigan against the rocks. They are so camouflaged with their new colours, perfectly suited to the changing environment.

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

I crawled over the rocks and got to about 3 meters of one bird. A great feeling of satisfaction came over me, knowing you are bagging some nice images.

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

I spent about 7 hours on the mountain before I got back to the car. On the way down I came across some red grouse so was able to lie in the heather photographing them. The soft heather was a welcome change to the rocks and boulders of the ptarmigan, and yet and went home feeling privileged to have seen these amazing birds.

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

Female PtarmiganFemale Ptarmigan

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

Male PtarmiganMale Ptarmigan

 


Comments

Raymond Leinster(non-registered)
Hi Mark
You certainly enjoyed a fantastic day and bagged some terrific images.

Well done you and a great blog
Raymond
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