'Thorburn loved both ptarmigan and the wilderness in which they live. Their ever changing plumage coinciding with the colours and the seasons never ceased to fascinate and inspire him.' J. Southern, Thorburn's Birds and Mammals, London, 1986, p. 82.
Most of Thorburn's drawings of ptarmigan originated on the estate of Gaick in Invernesshire. He first stayed there in 1889 and subsequently returned as a visitor each autumn for many years.