Ptarmigans and Mountain Hares in Cairngorms
22/03/14Earlier this week I returned from two days in Cairngorms, Scotland, where my targets were Ptarmigan and Mountain Hares, in their white livery at this time of year. On Sunday I drove 320 miles to Aviemore and on Monday met up with Gordon McLeod from AVIEMORE OSPREYS, who had agreed to act as my guide for the two days. We set off to the car park at the start of the ski slopes, and started to trek our way uphill. The weather for Monday was not meant to be too bad, but they got it totally wrong,as shortly after setting off the rain came down, and at times was torrential. It was a real job to try to protect my camera and lenses from the worst of the Scottish weather. We managed to find some Ptarmigan on several occasions and they proved reasonably obliging allowing me to get reasonably close, as they also sheltered from the rain. The photos, which can be found in my "Recent Gallery" by clicking HERE may give some idea of how bad it really was. As we were heading back downhill, we saw two mountain hares, but despite Gordon walking further downhill and trying to flush them out as he came back towards me I didn't get a single photo.
I returned to my B&B to try to dry out. And to add to the frustration as I sat and drank a cup of coffee in a nearby cafe the sun was shining in the distance - over the Cairngorm mountain range where we had been getting soaked just an hour earlier! Despite an excellent drying room it took until the next morning for my clothes and camera bag to get really dry. The weather forecast for Tuesday was even worse, but fortunately they were wrong again, and at times we had some great sunshine, although also the clouds rolled in at times. I decided to concentrate on Mountain Hares, although did fire off a few shots of the Ptamigan in beautiful sunlight. After about 4 hours we were heading back downhill when we almost fell over a mountain hare which was hiding between the stones and the vegetation. I managed to get a few shots before it scurried off.
So 6 hours on Monday and 5 hours on Tuesday before another 320 miles back home. But it was great to be in the mountains and enjoying the views and the hard work paid off with photos of both of my target species.
A huge thank you to Gordon who was an excellent guide and good company, and I look forward to seeing him again in August to photograph Ospreys at his hide in Aviemore.