The Ptarmigan of Burntpoint

A male willow ptarmigan we named "Sam" just outside of camp. Sam would regularly come to camp to fight with the other male ptarmigan which visited camp. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mmf/4 VRII.

 

The stars of my recent trip to the Burntpoint Research Camp were the willow ptarmigan. They appeared a couple hours into our first day and were present almost continuously.  The camp had at least 3 different pairs which regularly visited a sandy spot in the compound for a “dustbath”.

Ptarmigan were scattered across the study area being absent only on the immediate coast.  They would constantly appear and fuss at you as you went by.  The females would disappear in the landscape if you took your eyes off them at all.  Their nests were incredibly well hidden and could only be found with careful inspection.  I’ll miss getting to see them each day.

A female willow ptarmigan on her nest. The camouflage of this bird is amazing!!! This female was located by Dr Ken Abraham, the lead scientist on this project. Special thanks to him for calling her to my attention so I could photograph her. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 300mm f/4.

 

One of the ptarmigan on the boardwalk between our cabins. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.
Sam checks me out on one of my morning walks. He was very nicely colored. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.

 

A female willow ptarmigan we named pTammy coming in for her evening dust bath. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.

 

A male ptarmigan in full "sneak mode". They would hunker down and run low to the ground. There were piles of ptarmigan feathers everywhere so the sneak must not work too well. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.

 

A female ptarmigan watches me carefully. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.

 

Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.

 

pTommy takes a dust bath. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.

 

A ptarmigan nest hidden in the willows. Nikon D4 with AFS Nikkor 600mm f/4 VRII.
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