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Come face to face with discreet animals

Beautiful encounter programme
This time, you thought of taking that digital camera that is always lying around in a drawer in your hiking bag. Usually you take pictures with your phone, but today you have a specific mission: to meet the ptarmigan, the birds that change colour according to the season. You are lucky: after a few minutes of walking, you already come across fresh tracks in the snow in a Y shape. You have a doubt, it doesn't look like bird prints at all. What if it was more like a mountain hare?

The rock ptarmigan and the mountain hare are particularly discreet mountain species. It is therefore not clear what their precise geographical distribution is. Knowing the environments, altitudes and slopes where these species currently live allows us to better predict where they might still exist in the future. These species are particularly affected by climate change: reduced snow cover reducing their adaptive advantage (the coat of the mountain hare changing colour during the season to camouflage itself, the ptarmigan's "snowshoes" to walk more easily on the snow), increased temperatures, interactions with other species that are colonising the high mountains (the European hare which is moving higher and higher up the mountain). The rock ptarmigan could lose between 60% and 100% of its suitable habitat by 2100.

The Beautiful encounter programme allows a maximum number of opportunistic observations to be made on a limited number of species, which may change over time.

Target audience

hikers, climbers


Chamonix valley

Implementation time

2 minutes to enter your observation

Naturalist difficulty

  • Naturalist
  • Novice


Somewhat engaging
every observation, even occasional, counts

Species concerned

european hare
mountain hare
rock ptarmigan

Access to study site

Along the trails


a camera, a smartphone or GPS (location)

The protocol

Show all

1 Observe

When you encounter one of the above animals, enjoy the encounter and if possible, try to take a picture of it, but be discreet so as not to disturb it.

Please note that you can only share a sighting with us if you have heard or seen the animal directly, but not if you have found clues (droppings, feathers, tracks in the snow), as these do not allow you to precisely date when the associated animal was present.

If you do not enter the observation on SPOT directly in the field, remember to also note the GPS coordinates of your place of encounter so that you can associate it with your observation later.

2 Send

To send us your observation, go to the Contribute page and click on the "+" button in the right corner. Fill in the GPS coordinates associated with your observation or locate it on the map. Select the animal you have seen, fill in the various fields and add the photo you may have taken from your image gallery.

Check that all the information is correct and confirm to finish. Your comment will then be submitted to the rest of the community for co-validation.

Practical advice

Descriptive sheets of the three species are available to help you recognise and distinguish them.