Ptarmigans love time-lapse cameras!

Ptarmigan at Kronebreen 01

We have been setting up time-lapse cameras in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard since 2014 to observe glacier change over time. Ptarmigans have been known to nest by these cameras. One particular camera is their favourite! This camera was set up on a rocky outcrop called Garwoodtoppen to measure velocities over Kronebreen glacier. 

Ptarmigans at Kronebreen 02

Sometimes more than one ptarmigan will come to sit in front of this camera…

Ptarmigans at Kronebreen 03

…And we have noticed changes in their appearance through the season. Their feathers are normally white in colour over the winter and spring, but change to grey/brown in the summer. Over the course of a season (May – September), we capture roughly 20 ptarmigans in our images (out of a possible 6000 images). 

Ptarmigan at Kronebreen 04

Although these images have been useful to monitor ptarmigan activity in this area of Svalbard, they are also a bit of a nuisance for tracking glacier movement. When they are in front of the camera, they block a significant patch of the glacier that we are monitoring. Silly ptarmigans!