SPECIES TO LOOK OUT FOR
Superficially similar to the brown hare, but more compact and with shorter ears, the mountain hare will exchange its greybrown summer coat for a winter-white pelage. In recent years numbers have declined dramatically and the population is now less than one per cent of their initial levels. They are most active at dawn and dusk.
Marginally smaller than its moorland cousin the red grouse, the ptarmigan radically changes its summer plumage – predominently grey, brown and black barring – to a startling white, with a splash of black, in winter (pictured right). Rarely dropping below 1,000m, the ptarmigan is the montane megastar everybody wants to see.
Losing its glorious pied breeding plumage, this stocky bunting turns sandy and rusty brown in autumn. Now is the time they form flocks, and can be surprisingly trusting while searching for scraps of food not buried under snow.
The fortunes of this majestic and powerful bird are improving. With more than 500 pairs now breeding in Scotland, ‘goldies’ can be spotted soaring above anywhere from rugged mountains to remote islands.
Our largest crow is easily identified by its massive bill, ‘fingered’ wings, wedge-shaped tail and impressive voice. It is now a common feature across much of western Britain, due primarily to less persecution. A raven proclaiming territorial rights in its ancestral home is a great sight.