female Red Phalarope

When I was browsing through my birding guide as a kid, looking at all those exotic birds with exotic colours, I also found the Red (or Grey) Phalarope. With its bright orange plumage I expected this bird to be easily discoverable in the field. Orange can never be a proper camouflage, I expected.

It turned out I was wrong. Most of the time this is indeed not very well camouflaged, e.g. when it swims in little ponds or near the shore where we find them most of the time. However, on the tundra, their breeding habitat, it is remarkably difficult to find them. The mosses in the tundra turn a bit orange as well, making the phalarope blend in easily and making them surprisingly hard to find.

For me this visit was really nice. Besides finding these birds in small ponds, it’s nice to see some of their breeding behaviour on the tundra. Females fighting over males, pair bonding and a little bit of feeding. And of course not shy at all, as usual with these birds.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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