White-tailed Ptarmigan in North Vancouver?!! YES!!

Ilya came up with the idea to do a hike for White-tailed Ptarmigan.We decided to hike up to First Pump Peak at 1407m elevation on Mount Seymour. I started helping him invite people and soon we had 16 people signed up! Brian Stech and Dorothy Copp, George Clulow, John Reynolds, Carlo Giovaella, Jeremiah Kennedy, Ian Thomas, Yousif Attia, Quentin Brown, Rob Lyske, Liron Gertsman, Peter Candido, Daniele Mitchell, Andrew Foxall and Ilya Povalyaev and myself. The more the merrier when you are searching for an all white bird in snow.

Ptarmigan do occur on the local North Shore Mountains but sightings are few and far between and there are actually more recorded Rock sightings than White-tailed strangely enough. Danny Tyson had been successful in the past and so had Arman and myself  in winter so we decided to try again. This winter was mild and most of us were able to climb the mountain with hikers without crampons or poles. I was feeling pretty ill that day but dragged myself up the mountain with encouragement from my friends. I am especially grateful to Ilya and Liron who kept me company up the mountain. The hike is arduous up the mountain when you aren't feeling well.

Well at the top of the mountain Yousif Attia spotted the bird and everyone got great looks at it. The bird was walking off the cliff when I got up and people were afraid it would fly but I was coming as fast as I could I felt like death. When I finally reached the top the group pointed the bird out to me and boy it was beautiful. He stood there foraging right in front of us and we could clearly see his big fluffy feathered legs and feet. He was completely white and I snapped him when he was in the snow. There wasn't much snow on the mountain top of First Pump Peak where the bird was but luckily I got the quintessential Ptarmigan shot. I only carried up my small lens so it wasn't too heavy.

After this we descended the mountain which was really icy and slippery on the way down I pretty much toppled down the whole mountain. I was bruised and battered for weeks but it was all worth it to see the rare Ptarmigan.

After having a congratulatory coffee and lunch we decided to head to Iona after I got a text message that a Tufted Duck had shown up. Upon the return I collapsed in bed with dreams of Ptarmigan in my head.


White-tailed Ptarmigan atop Mount Seymour in North Vancouver - Photo: Melissa Hafting

The Ptarmigan Gang at  First Pump Peak in North Vancouver

The annual Tufted Duck in Richmond - Photo: Melissa Hafting

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