Rock Ptarmigan, Lagopus mutus, grouse, bird, scotland

Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)


If you want to see a Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus), commonly just known as Ptarmigan in the UK, then I can recommend a visit to the Cairngorm ski resort in Scotland in spring time!

In May this year Sue and I visited the Aviemore area of Scotland and on one day spent a wonderful morning walking up Cairngorm mountain. If you drive up and park your car at the visitor centre by the start of the funicular railway, there are clearly marked paths leading to the top of the mountain. This year there was still plenty of snow on the ground, which, combined with the beautifully still and sunny morning, made for a perfect walk!

We saw several Ptarmigans on the walk up and they appeared surprisingly tame. At one point a pair, who were clearly more interested in each other than me, almost ran over my shoes as they pursued their romantic adventures. The last Ptarmigan that we saw was the one pictured here, quite near the top of the mountain. This individual was strolling around and allowed me to get pretty close. At this time of the year, the Ptarmigans are losing their white winter feathers and so have something of a ‘two-tone’ look about them. Such a beautiful species of grouse!

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