Thursday, February 19, 2009

A sure sign

...of spring. While most of the ptarmigan we see are still white, going by this guy I'd say the moult is underway.


H took this pic today. This is the only one with dark feathers on the neck and head. Another has a buff shoulder and others have dark showing on their backs, which is especially noticeable when they're preening. I thought I'd post this because back in January I told members of the Saskatoon Nature Society that over the years I've noticed no changes in plumage while the ptarmigan are wintering in this area. Well, that's no longer true.

19 comments:

Nick S said...

Very nice Brenda. I sure would like to come up there and photograph those one day.

Evie said...

beautiful

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks, Nick! I expect they'll start heading north shortly. H got a report of some down the Hanson Lake Road. He'll find out how far south tomorrow. If it's a fair distance I'll post on Saskbirds.

Thanks, Evie! It is beautiful. They always remind me of where I am and where I'm at. That's a good thing.

Val said...

A stunning photo Harvey. Thanks for sharing this with us Brenda. We always look forward to your postings and topped off with a photo makes it double delight! We've never seen a Ptarmigan so this close-up is a real treat.

Val Thomas

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks Val! I look forward to your posts as well - your owl post has me yearning for a road trip south. We don't see Snowy Owls up here. I'm told they rush right over the boreal.

Val said...

Is that an unusual amount of Ptarmigan for you this year? Apparently in our area the upland game bird numbers are up quite a bit from recent years. I really don't think the Snowy Owls are in huge amouhts this year but they are visible for sure. About six or so years ago we could count as high as 46 on the power poles between Corrine and Regina. Every time we went we would have a guess as to whether we could better the top count. Now we see from three to five. I have a spider story for you/Harv but erroneously erased your e-mail. Sorry.

Brenda Schmidt said...

This is the most we've seen in our 20 some years here, but people say there was lots of ptarmigan here in winters before our time.

46 Snowys! Wow. What a treat.

We like spider stories. H especially. :)

Nick S said...

Brenda, myself , Guy and Ryan are heading up to Candle Lake tomorrow, so I wonder just how far south they are willing to wander ..

Brenda Schmidt said...

That will be a fun trip. Looks like a great weekend for it! I hope the wind stays down. The forecast for here says 20 km/h wind for tomorrow.

H just phoned home - he talked to the guy who reported the ptarmigan and they were on our side of the Sturgeon-Weir R., so not far south at all. But you never know. They've occasionally been that far south and farther in years past. Good luck!

Shawna Lemay said...

What a great photo!

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks, Shawna! I'm happy H let me post it. It really captures their intrepid spirit.

Ariel Gordon said...

I've decided that it is imperative that I someday see a ptarmigan and a snowy owl in their native habitat.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Good decision!

Sparverius said...

I've never seen one in person, but looking at that photo I am impressed with the size of their feet and the feathers covering them. Great winter adaptation. Good thing we have nature to learn from - Snowshoeing anyone?

Brenda Schmidt said...

Ya, their feet are amazing. Not only can they snowshoe, they use them as shovels. And they will strike out at rival ptarmigan with their feet. We saw that the other day. Yikes.

SMSteele said...

Ariel, I too long to see a ptarmigan in its natural habitat. how lovely, how very lovely. what kind of sound do they make?

here we are being woken by robins already. albeit wet robins.

back from Banff, farewell to my elk.

Brenda Schmidt said...

:) You can listen to them here.

Robins! I look so forward to seeing a robin. It will be a fair while yet.

I hope you had a productive stay. My life feels oddly changed having not gone anywhere this winter. It feels so weird. But hey. Onward.

sms said...

o, what a wonderful sound, what a wonderful site

still, I want to hear them in situ

Brenda Schmidt said...

Yes, there's nothing like being there. Like you and the elk. Or the robins. Or the owls.