Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ptarmigan nest sites

Rock Ptarmigan in Scotland usually nest close to boulders, which probably reduces the risk of detection by predators as their cryptically patterned plumage merges well with the colour and form of the lichen-covered rock. It was wet, in low cloud yesterday and this bird's back was covered with pearls of moisture.   

There are few human artifacts in the ptarmigan habitat of the high ground in the Highlands, but one such is the erection of snow-fences at the ski-resorts. And these decay over the years. I have known several ptarmigan nests to be placed near these, presumably for shelter from predators, but possibly also from wind, rain and snow. There are two such nests in my study area this year.One is at the base of an upright but partially broken fence.

Another nest was placed under a section of fallen fence. Both birds sat still, confiding in their camouflage for protection.

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