A willow ptarmigan kicks up snow as it bursts into flight to rejoin the rest of the nearby flock.
Category: Denali National Park
One of the other hardy species I came across on a daily basis in Denali where the willow ptarmigan. With their almost all white feathers apart from the red upper eyelashes and their black tails, they are sometimes hard to find. Fittingly, this one made its way through some willow bushes to browse on the freeze-dried leaves. These birds are quiet adaptable. When storms blow in or when predators are around they will fly into the snow and bury themselves beneath it to either wait out the storm or avoid being seen.
On a recent trip up to Alaska for some work with caribou, I took a quick detour down to Denali National Park to get in a few days of photography before the real work started. It was mid April and the road into the park was still barely even open. Night time temperatures were around -20 Celsius and a balmy -5 during the day! Early on the first morning I came across this cow moose as she made her way across a still frozen pond. Golden eagles had returned. but other than that there were few signs of spring. However, the wonderful sound of silence, the few hardy animals I came across and the amazing surrounding scenery was still well worth the detour.