Crested Tits

January 23, 2022 at 6:38 pm

No trip to Speyside would be complete without time spent in the forests filming Crested Tits. They will readily come to feed on a bag of peanuts and the more severe the weather all the better for your photos. However, make sure you go before mid March because in most years by then Crested Tits thoughts turn to breeding and they head deep into the forests and are hard to find.

Winter Mountain Hares

January 16, 2022 at 6:45 pm

If you are going to visit Speyside in winter then in addition to Ptarmigan you have to go in search of Mountain Hares. The good news is that you do not have to scale Cairngorm mountain to find the Hares, in fact a better option is the Findhorn valley, where you do not have to have crampons on your boots to reach your target. All this weeks photos were taken on my last visit to the Findhorn valley where, after a two hour trek, I came across an incredible twenty six Hares in the snow! Do I need to go again? Of course I do!

Cairngorm Challenge

January 9, 2022 at 11:47 am

In previous years the early part of the year has seen us heading up the slopes of Cairngorm in search of Ptarmigan. When the Funicular Railway was working it was relatively easy to reach the summit and I was once stood on top before 10.00am!! Those days are long gone with the railway out of action together with my injured knee! It is still the best place in Scotland to film Ptarmigan but beware – in winter the summit of Cairngorm is covered in ice and you will need crampons attached to your boots to avoid sliding down the mountain. I once slid twenty foot, together with the camera, and thought I had come away unscathed until I noticed later that the front element of my 300mm lens was chipped, effectively reducing its value by more than a grand! Photos from my last successful trip are in the Gallery.

Top Ten

January 1, 2022 at 8:15 pm

Despite covid, bad weather and finally injury its not been a bad year for the camera. Thousands of photos were taken and it is always a difficult job to pick ten of the best. However, pride of place this year goes to two of our rarest Grebes. I finally got photos of the Black Necked Grebes in Yorkshire and then the big surprise of the year to come across a family party of Slavonian grebes with young by a public footpath in Inverness.
It is always a privilege to be granted a Licence to photograph breeding Hen Harriers so two photos from those sessions are included together with a passing Golden Eagle!
The year started with Photographing a Jack Snipe in the snow – something I have been after for a long time. April’s snow and frost brought hunting Barn Owls and by May most evenings were spent with Long Eared Owls – the photo included shows the fabulous plumage of this most nocturnal of the Owls.
The final photo is of the best Sparrowhawk to visit our garden in fifty years and he still visits most days!
To all my readers – Best Wishes and Good Health for 2022.

The Stormcock

December 27, 2021 at 7:06 pm

The Mistle Thrush is Britains largest song-bird and is also known as the Stormcock. This name emanates from the Thrushes habit of singing at the height of a storm.
Unfortunately,. from a photographers point of view it has a very annoying habit – it stakes its claim to a berry-laden tree and chases off all other birds. This is all very well if you only want to photograph Mistle Thrushes but when Waxwings, Redwings and Fieldfares turn up they are all chased away. I have lost track of how many times I have cursed Mistle Thrushes over the last fifty years!!

Temperature Inversion

December 19, 2021 at 7:49 pm

When we have a High Pressure in Winter it is the best time to go out and film temperature inversions. These occur when the temperature in the valleys is colder than that on the hill-tops. Mist and cloud is formed in the valley bottoms with glorious sunshine above. It is a fabulous natural occurrence and this week was the best I have ever seen. The blog photo shows the valleys of river Calder and Ribble in dense fog but high above the top of Pendle Hill is bathed in sunshine
I only saw my first Fieldfares of winter this week and never before have I seen more Jack Snipe than Fieldfare by this time of the year. Ten Jack Snipe in a remote bog on the 20th October was an exceptional