Loch Garten, Crested Tits and Red Deer – MNHP Cairngorms 2017

Last night a group of us went out with David for a night shoot at Lecht Mine as the sky is considerably clear. Haven’t edited any photos or timelapses yet but they should be quite good!

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Group selfie with Lecht Mine

I was extremely lucky to see a “fireball” level shooting star – it was certainly the most spectacular sighting of a meteor of my life.  The whole experience lasted at least 2 seconds, and then all that was left was a trail of smoke in the starry sky.


After a night out yesterday, Becca and I headed out early again this morning.  We went out to the ski lodge at 6:15am with Mark to photograph red grouse. We stalked a few red grouse and mountain hares on foot and the lovely morning light was quite good for photos. We also had a flurry on one of the red grouse stalk!

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Male Red Grouse

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Red Grouse in flurry conditions

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Mountain Hare we spotted on ski lodge

On the way there and back we spotted some oystercatchers, curlews and lapwings. I managed to photograph a windswept lapwing from the van window.

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Windswept Lapwing!

Ben and Jason had a successful session at the black grouse hide again this morning. They had 1 female and at least 24 males. The hissing sound of the birds did scare the lives out of them at first (Ben fell of his chair). Jason saw a brown hare running through the commotion as well. They concluded that the experience was “cold but fantastic”.

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Ben and Jason were having Holly’s dad’s cheesecakes under the stars

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a phone picture by Ben Watkins

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© Jason Pritchard

Josh and Aaron had much better luck with the red squirrels today as they started to use the trunk we set up before. The red squirrels showed up 10 minutes after them setting up the hide, for the next half an hour they went back and forth collecting nuts. Then for an hour and a half they didn’t show. Just when they thought they would pack up and go, another turned up!

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© Aaron Burden

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© Josh Pawlowski

On to today’s group activities! We spent around 2 hours at the car park at Loch Garten, aiming to photograph crested tits. It was very windy today but fortunately coal tits, blue tits, a great tit, chaffinches, siskins and a robin kept us entertained while we were waiting for the star – crested tit to turn up. Unfortunately the bird never showed.

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© Holly Wilkinson

Next stop was Alvie Estate, where we switched to two 4x4s. Graeme (gamekeeper and head stalker) and David (forestry manager) drove us up the estate in search of red deer, as they regularly fed them. Some of us had a slightly more bumpy ride at the back.

It was snowing when the red deer turned up after a few honks in the car – great opportunity for some atmospheric shots! The March Scottish weather also provided us with different lighting conditions for our photography.

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One of my favourite shots today

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© Aaron Burden

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© Aaron Burden

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© Josh Pawlowski

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© Josh Pawlowski

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© Will Parkinson

Finally we visited Loch an Eilein for some landscapes and sunset. There is an old castle on an island in the middle. The golden colours from the setting sun was beautiful, but soon the clouds came in and started to rain, so we decided to head for our well deserved dinner in Aviemore earlier than planned.

David photo of becca

David’s photo of Becca using a tripod much taller than her

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© Josh Pawlowski

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© Josh Pawlowski

Tomorrow we are leaving at 4:15am to shoot the sunrise at Loch Morlich. Fingers crossed it’s going to be a good one x

Thank you for reading (apologies it’s a bit late as we got back at around 9 tonight), and hope you enjoyed it 🙂

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