[Tweeters] Ptarmigan at Artist Point, Mt Baker

Eric Ellingson esellingson at gmail.com
Sat Aug 6 11:42:23 PDT 2022

After many years of unsuccessful attempts at finding the elusive ptarmigan,
I've finally had my second viewing, a couple of miles out from Artist
Point. I spent an hour with a family of 8. Mom and 7chicks. It was great
sitting, watching, photographing, and videoing them as they went about
their business. Much of the time all of them were actively foraging on the
buds of heather. On occasion, it looked like both Mom and chicks were
eating small, almost sandlike pebbles. I'll have to explore what that is
about. Other times there was the dust bath behavior, scratching around in
small dusty areas and fluttering about. When hikers came by Mom would get
to a higher spot to see what was out there. When Ravens flew over calling
they took cover, Mom went close to a big rock, mostly out of sight and the
chicks hunkered down in vegetation, except one chick who did not get the
memo and kept foraging. I'm not sure if it is a thing but it seemed they
were eating mostly white heather buds rather than the more abundant pink
buds. Has anyone noticed or
familiar with what that is about?

There was not much else up there bird-wise, other than a few American
Pipits, one viewing of a Gray-crowned Rosy-finch. Of note with one of the
pipits, one had a completely bald, dark-gray head. A mom who had it with
her kids and pulled her hair out? It was actively foraging, gathering
insects, and then heading off with them. I don't think bird photography
would be much of a thing if birds did not have feathers. It was quite an
ugly head.

Photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ericellingson/
The chick photos are first followed by the adult. Video not processed yet.

Eric Ellingson
esellingson at gmail.com
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