Ben Rinnes – MNHP Cairngorms 2017

This morning Becca and I tried the red squirrels again with Carys, and we got very lucky (compared to our last session). We brought a one-man hide for Becca and a two-man hide for Carys and me. At least two squirrels came back repeatedly for peanuts, and one was in a tree above us nearly the whole time! The one with the blonde tail was a bit wary at the start, but after some time it came closer and closer and gave us very good views. They used the trunk today, so we got some good photos of the red squirrel in the tree when it came down. We also had some snow in the last hour.

Becca’s photos of Carys and I in the two-man hide, and the view from the hide

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My favourite shot today

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Red squirrel on trunk eating a peanut

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© Becca Witt

Josh, Ben and Jason went out with Mark to stalk red grouse, and they got annoyingly close to a mountain hare!

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© Ben Watkins

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© Mark Wallwork

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© Ben Watkins

Holly and Georgia were in the black grouse hide last night and they got good views of them again this morning:

© Holly Wilkinson

© Georgia Raybould

Today we hiked for 2 hours up Benn Rinnes, the highest freestanding mountain in Moray at 841m. The climb felt almost vertical in some parts, but the walk was definitely worth it as the sight from the summit was truly amazing. We had very good weather the whole day, which made the hike more enjoyable than tiring. Mark and I saw a pair of red grouse flying away. It was quite windy at the top of the mountain, so shortly after arriving we found a sheltered place for lunch and some group photos. After some landscape photography, a group of us went looking for ptarmigan and mountain hare while the others headed back down to the car park. Unfortunately we didn’t see any ptarmigan (although Carys did saw two flying off when climbing), but we managed a distant view of a mountain hare on the way down.

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Group photo at the summit

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Mark and Will shooting the view from the summit with the GigaPan © Jason Pritchard

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© Becca Witt

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© Jason Pritchard

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© Jason Pritchard

Shortly after arriving back at our basecamp, Mark and I went out again in the local area to see if we can photograph some brown hare. We decided to go up by the fence so as to not scare them away into the woods, and luckily a brown hare just came into the field from the woods. With some zig-zag walking and a lot of crouching down on the hill, we managed to get reasonably close to this individual. It was an amazing end to a beautiful day!

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© Mark Wallwork

We had birds like coal tits, great tits, chaffinches and siskins on the feeders outside the cottage. The male siskin looks very pretty and some of us got photos of it. Here is a photo by David:

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© David Chapman

Some photos from this week:

© Holly Wilkinson

© Carys Fearn

© Will Parkinson

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