[Tweeters] A ptarmagin does magic at Artist Point

Rob Sandelin floriferous at msn.com
Sun Oct 11 22:04:36 PDT 2009

I hiked up from Heather Meadows parking to Artist Point on the Mt. Baker
highway Saturday late afternoon. I was the last person up there for the
day, it was cold but clear. I hiked up to the high point facing Mt. Shuksan
and a movement below me in the patchy snow caught my attention. I looked and
saw nothing so I went back to gazing at the mountain. Movement again. I
looked...still nothing. But this time I kept watching. Movement again, and
like a magician a ptarmigan materialized, its round body white its head
mottled. It blended in absolutely perfectly with the patchy snow and rocks.
It was idlely pecking at Blueberries of which there were an abundance. From
the mountain there was a cry so I looked up and a golden eagle went soaring
by, then dropped into the meadow below, setting off a series of Pika alarms
as it soared low to the ground. It zipped out of view over a hill and I
tried to find the Ptarmigan again. I knew right where it was, but I could
not see it. It was not until it moved that it again materialized. For the
12th time that day I kicked myself for not having a camera, it would have
made a great example for my upcoming ornithology class on camouflage, one of
those find the bird slides.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer, Teacher
Snohomish County

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