It was an early start this morning as Pete Walkden (friend and great photographer… check out his website at www.petewalkden.co.uk) headed for the M6 and north, for Boat of Garten, where we have a cottage for a week of Highland wildlife photography! I have been longing to see Crested tits and Red squirrels in particular for a long time, so when Pete said he was thinking of heading to the Cairngorms and would I like to come, I leapt at the chance! We have a wonderful week of exploration planned, trying to see and photograph as many species as we can!
With the weather forecast looking decidedly wintery, we were hoping we would beat the huge swath of rainy / snowy weather and that we could keep ahead of its progress up the UK. We made excellent time, with the roads clear and the weather fine. We made it to our destination in about 7 hours.
With a couple of hours before we could get into the cottage, Pete suggested that we headed up to Lochindorb, as the surrounded heathland was often good for Red Grouse! I have only seen this enigmatic Scottish birds once before. As Pete drove the car slowly along the narrow track through the heather-clad moorland, he suddenly spotted the first grouse! Less than 5 metres away from us, was my first male Red Grouse! His vivid red eyebrows seemed to glow, along with an amazing white eyeline! He was a seriously handsome bird and I was somewhat excited to watch him. The muted colours of the heather and grassland are stunning and this bird slots beautifully into this landscape. I grabbed the camera and, resting it on the window sill, I was able to grab some shots.
As we crept along the track, we had some amazing views! They are very tolerant of the cars and one individual was just a couple of metres from my lens! I was thrilled!
I took lots of shots, which I will process properly when I get home, but here are a few screenshot captures….
If this is any kind of indication of the week we are going to have, then it is going to be superb! With snow falling heavily now, our trip out with Andy Howard tomorrow in search of Mountain Hares is going to be amazing! I just can’t wait. Check out Andy’s website and some of his images to see why I am so excited! Watch this space to see what we manage to achieve in what is going to be a rather snowy landscape! :o)