Spent sometime watching Snow Buntings in the carpark at Glenshee on Sunday afternoon.
In North East Scotland, Snow Bunting is classed as a common passage migrant and winter visitor, breeding in low numbers on the highest mountains. There are two subspecies of Snow Bunting on the Scottish List. Nominate nivalis breeds in arctic North America, Greenland, the Faeroe Islands, Svalbard and Fennoscandia, with some populations wintering in the UK. Insulae (Icelandic Snow Bunting) is partly resident in Iceland, although small numbers winter in the UK. Both insulae and nivalis occur in North East Scotland, with insulae appearing to be the commoner of the two subspecies, both in terms of breeding and wintering numbers.
In North East Scotland, ringing has shown much interchange between Icelandic insulae, with nine foreign ringed birds recovered in the region, and 16 birds ringed in Aberdeenshire recovered in Iceland. A study of birds breeding in the Cairngorms showed that about 90% of males were insulae (Smith 1996).
Smith (1996) also showed that the proportion of nivalis wintering in the uplands of North East Scotland varied, with between 0-10% of wintering females but up to 40% being males. Individuals showing features of nivalis during the breeding season comprise of less than 10% of Cairngorm breeders.
However, sledging soon beckoned...... :-)