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

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

 

New tour – bird photography holiday in the Outer Hebrides

Following several successful visits to the Outer Hebrides, we are delighted to announce a new tour to these special Islands including both North and South Uist and staying centrally in Benbecula.

The main target will be Corncrake;

Image

Our targets will include;

  • Short Eared Owl (in good years over 20 can be seen in one day)
  • Passage waders; Sanderling, Dunlin, Whimbrel and Ringed Plover
  • Breeding Waders; Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover
  • Outside chance of Merlin, Golden Eagle and Hen Harrier
  • Red and Black Throated Diver
  • Otter and Red Deer
  • Various rare Orchids on the Machair
  • Weather permitting we will try and schedule a trip to the remote St Kilda

This trip will be in 2014 – as all our bird and wildlife photography tours and holidays sell out at least 6 months in advance be sure to reserve your place

Life at the Top

I have no regret in every winter announcing that Ptarmigan are my favourite subject. There is something about the fact that whatever happens in life they will never come to you – there is no easy way to see them. You always have to go them; their environment, their altitude and most of all suffer their conditions.

This winter has been exceptional compared to recent years. Exceptionally mild, with little snow, but also exceptionally windy. So whilst the conditions at low levels and in the forests seem benign up on the tops access has been more unpleasant than in recent years.

Still we managed a 100% success rate with all three of our winter workshop groups getting up close and personal to these hardcore grouse. To be fair one group were stuck in the cloud base with the Ptarmigan. but not be put off all managed frame filling shots.

So having said how much I like them – well its the challenge in getting into their environment – here’s the reason I love them so much. They are just so rewarding. Spending time in their company and they accept you as part of their day and soon enough go about there business, which sometimes isn’t a lot, but there is something unbeatable about being on the tops just us and the Ptarmigan.

A strange addiction

For the past year or so I have been wondering why I keep photographing Red Grouse. I was looking into my key-wording and I must have nearly 2000 images of these smashing, but somewhat in my opinion comical, birds and so to the  other day when the light was bringing out the reds, pinks and oranges on the moor, I thought to myself I know I will go and check out some new habitat that looks good fro Grouse. It was then that I questioned myself and thought “why surely its time for something else”.

It wasn’t and off I went to get some more Red Grouse shots. What can I say? Maybe I just wanted my regular fix of quizzical grouse behaviour. Either way I took some shots and returned home happy. Sometimes its just that simple.

Winter Wildlife Photography Workshops in the Highlands, Scotland

Just a a quick heads up to let you know the dates are starting to fill for our winter workshops. We will aim to photograph a range of species in the stunning winter Cairngorms.

“Being an experienced photographer, my reasons for selecting this tour was the opportunity to photograph specific species. ebirder were excellent in their knowledge on how and where to get the opportunity to photograph these. Friendly, expert company, location, location, location, great accomodation.” Matt. Winter Workshop 2011

Last winter we photographed a range of species including;

Crested Tit, Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting, Long Tailed Duck, Mountain Hare, King Eider, Great Grey Shrike, Capercaillie, Golden Eagle (wild), Red Grouse and Red Deer. One lucky guest even managed a shot of Gyrfalcon an ultra rare visitor from the North (well done Peter!)

You can find out more about our winter tours by following this link