Going Dotty

My good friend Gary had wanted to see the Dotterel for years and we had arranged trips for the last two or three years. Unfortunately the weather has always beaten. Until this year. We headed up to the Cairngorms and after an anxious walk up we found a ‘trip’ of Dotterel quite easily and quickly too.

What happened next really stuck with me. Gary was so excited to see a Dotterel he couldn’t hold the camera steady – even on a tripod. This made me smile and also feel a tad envious. How fantastic to be that overwhelmed by seeing such a beautiful bird that it leads a grown man to go weak at the knees.

Needless yo say the excitement died down and in the end Gary retained his composure to get some fantastic shots. And of course the Dotterel are often tame and behave like they do and afforded some incredibly close views – sometimes too close.

Female Dotterel

Back from Africa, off to Mull

Winter seems to be taking an age to clear the Highlands with most of April and the start of May dominated by strong winds and cooler temperatures.

Earlier I spent several weeks in Feb/March in Africa and hopefully will get to post some pictures shortly. For now we are preparing for our nature photography workshops on Mull which will keep us busy for the next three or four weeks. Fingers crossed that spring decides to turn up for our guests!

Topi at dawn

Winter Workshops underway

January 2013 started mildly in the Highlands and we began to worry that our guests may miss out on snow (or more correctly leave the snowy south and come to the mild north!). However, with our first  groups arriving the weather changed and we have had some magical days in snow and ice. Plus the best possible reason to find a nice warm pub at the end of the day!

The highlights for the first group varied for them individually but included;

  • Photographing Red Deer in the Caledonian forest in a full on blizzard
  • Filling the frame with Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting in the snowy Cairngroms
  • The ultra confiding Mountain Hare that let us approach to 10 feet and then fell back to sleep!

With more folk arriving in the coming weeks we are looking forward to a fantastic sell out winter in 2013.

Ptarmigan-in-blizzard

Have you lost a camera on Cairngorm?

That was the simple question I asked on Facebook on 6th November, more in hope and for a bit of fun than anything else. Quite quickly lots of good spirited folk and those up for a fun project started sharing the picture below and soon enough it seemed like there may be a chance – albeit remote – of returning the camera to its owner.

Image

So what’s the back story? Whilst crawling around photographing Ptarmigan in the Northern Corries I became aware of something sticking into my ribs. Not that unusual probably another rock I thought to myself. I was staggered when I looked down to see a metallic object and low and behold a camera. Partly covered in snow and with a few bumps I popped the camera in my pocket and when I got back to the car I put it under the blowers to try and dry it out.

On closer inspection the camera was an Olympus u Tough that they advertise as having a “Waterproof, shock-proof, freezeproof design”. So that filled me with hope that we could try and download the images and find the owner. I was easily able to downland the images. The camera still working after an age on the hill and not being rotted is testament to the manufacturer!

The image of the smiling woman in the blue jacket was put on Facebook. A good number of folks got behind the search – it is them I really need to thank as the image was tweeted and shared several hundred times. Even after the first 24 hours had passed there was some interest but by the 8th November I was starting to think about what to do with the camera as no-one came forward.

Then I received an email from someone called Mark C “The person in the photo is my wife”. No way, this is amazing!

“We were skinning up to the ridge to the 1141 spot height when the camera was fumbled and went sliding off at speed into the mist down the flank of Coire an t’Sneachda.”

“Someone posted a link to the facebook page concerning the found camera on UK Climbing today (I don’t do facebook myself), anyway as it was a public image I had a look and low and behold I know the person in the photo (not however the owner) we were all out on the hill ski-touring together the day the camera was lost.”

“I had given this up as long gone a long time ago.”

“I have let the owner know about your facebook page and hopefully he will be in touch. He will be chuffed to bits as he always held out hope it may turn up one day. Thanks a lot for sharing and hopefully reuniting a long lost camera with its owner.”

So we were close but not there yet – Mark recognised his wife but the picture had been taken by someone else!

A few hours later I receive an email from an Austrian called Volker D.

“I believe the camera you found on Cairngorm is mine – lost on an epic day of ski-touring. The photo shows my good friend Diane C.

….
We were going up the side of the ski area heading towards the North Corries when I stopped and accidentally dropped the camera. As I watched it slide down the hill over the frozen snow into the fog and blizzard, my first instinct was to ski after it. But I quickly thought better of it remembering the many people who have lost their lives trying to save a £200 camera and let it slide away.
The fact that it still works and you have managed to track me down gives credit to the construction of the Olympus µ TOUGH
….
In any case thanks tons for all your efforts – you’ve made my day!”

So now all that remains is to reunite Volker with his camera – I have suggested we meet on Cairngorm. It seems appropriate!

White Tailed Eagles on Mull – a tale of two tours

We’ve just returned from Mull after running our first tour focused exclusively on photographing White Tailed Eagle’s in Scotland. On the trip we were joined by four guests who were enjoyable company throughout – thanks to John, Angie, David and Pui Hang. In total we witnessed nine White Tailed Eagle dives (six on our private charters) and we also came across five Otters – a couple of which we were able to photograph at close quarters. I look forward to seeing their images when they are processed!

On Sunday it became clear that the weather was going to change with frequent Atlantic lows and strong Westerlies whipping through the island so we spoke with our prospective clients and chose to postpone the second scheduled trip. Not an easy decision to make, but we felt it best to be clear that the chances of getting the boat out and therefore photographing Eagles would be slim. We felt this was a better option that would avoid any disappointment. We look forward to seeing you on our next trip.

Many thanks to Martin and Judith (and Alex!) of Mull Charters who have just been awarded No 2 in World’s 10 great wildlife tours by Trip Adviser

If you would like to come please let us know you can see more about the planned tours on the ebirder website