Cairngorms 2014: Day 7

We were delighted this morning when the weather forecast from the last 2 days proved us wrong and we awoke to fairly bright skies. We had hoped that the terrible rain forecast was not going to come to fruition, as we were spending the day with Neil McIntyre. If you are not familiar with Neil’s amazing work, then check out his website.

We had planned to photograph Red squirrels in the morning and then Crested tits in the afternoon. We headed straight up to Neil’s Red squirrel feeding spot in a beautiful lichen-laden woodland. There is no hide…. we stood in this beautiful setting, whilst Neil placed some hazelnuts out to tempt them down. It was pretty windy and the light changed constantly as the clouds were blown rapidly across the mountains. We waited. These are wild creatures, living in a huge area of woodland. The come and go as they please, but choose to pop down at their leisure, knowing there are some tasty treats available. Today, however, they chose not to visit. Only one female made a brief visit, allowing us to get a few shots. This is pretty unusual, as there are usually a couple of individuals who will come and explore the area, posing for their photographer audience!

With wild settings such as these, nothing is ever guaranteed… these are wild animals. This is what I feel makes any encounter so special! I managed a couple of shots and we are going to nip back early in the morning to see if they return, before we head home. This female was lovely… I have never really seen them up close before… so delicate and photogenic.

We waited all morning, before deciding to head off to another site to photograph some Crested tits. These guys were much more accommodating! Whereas, at Loch Garten we had infrequent visits, these guys were popping in and out all the time with Neil! Again, there is no hide and the birds just perch all around, as they come down to the feeders. This is wonderful as there are loads of different settings and perches to get lots of differing shots. It is difficult, though, as you have to constantly scan for them… they alight… and by the time you have got the camera on them, they’ve gone! They are so quick! Again, the light changed constantly… for a while it rained, then it was light cloud and then, occasionally, the sun would come out. This gave lots of different images, with different colours as the sun transforms the landscape and the Cresties! Their eyes are a deep red and this only really shows when the sun shines on them.  I loved this session and I took rather a lot of photos… it is going to take me some time to go through them all and choose my favourites!

I have chosen a few to share with you… there will be many more!

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I have completely fallen in love with these charismatic little birds… it has been such a pleasure and a privilege to have spent so much time with them this week.