The male willow ptarmigan was making his way to the roadside for an early morning dust bath. I'm not sure if he was calling in response to the bus or some other stimulus, but he began calling as soon as we pulled over to the side of the road. Very cool vocalization, visit this website (http://www.nature.nps.gov/naturalsounds/Sounds/Ptarmigan_Podcast_final.wav) for an example of ptarmigan calls. Interestingly, the woman interviewed in this podcast, Carol McIntyre, banded raptors for many years at Cape May, NJ before I interned there and she is friends with Katy Duffy the director of the owl banding project. This is the male willow ptarmigan's summer plumage. In the winter they turn almost pure white to blend in with the snow.
The final picture is of a grizzly cub that walked down to and across the road with its mom and sibling right in front of the bus in Thorofare Pass (just about where Little Stony Creek crosses the road). The spring cubs (born in January or February while the sows are hibernating) are dark brown (unlike the adults and yearling cubs which are blond), so this one is probably only about 4-6 months old.
Alarm calling Arctic Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus parryii), Eielson Visitor Center, Denali National Park, AK [Canon Rebel Xti, Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS plus Canon 1.4x teleconverter, 1/500, f/4, ISO 100]
Calling Male Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) and Tall Fireweed, Near Savage River, Denali National Park, AK [Canon Rebel Xti, Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS plus Canon 1.4x teleconverter, 1/750, f/4, ISO 200]
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