Birds of Prey & Boxing Hares – MNHP Cairngorms 2017

This morning was clear and we have some set snow around. A group of us went out with Mark again to photograph red grouse and mountain hare at the ski lodge. Becca and I went to the top to look for mountain hares, and by following the footprints in the snow, we tracked two of them to a slope. We went downhill and zig-zagged back up to try and get near to them, but the mountain hares at the lodge were quite skittish. We didn’t get as close as the guys did yesterday, but we have never been able to get that close before. Hopefully we will get even closer at Ladders Hill tomorrow. We also got some oystercatchers on the way, as well as lapwings at the junction like last time.

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Mountain Hare

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Mountain Hare © Becca Witt

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Mountain Hare © Will Parkinson

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Red Grouse © Mark Wallwork

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Female Red Grouse © Holly Wilkinson

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Male Red Grouse © Holly Wilkinson

Ben and Jason were photographing the red squirrels in the hide this morning. They had at most 3 red squirrels visiting to grab peanuts, and they also had 3 brown hares sprinting past!

Today was an easier day compared to yesterday – we were photographing birds of prey today in the woods 20 minutes away from our base camp. We had to be careful of ticks as well.

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Peregrine pulling a pigeon apart

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quite happy to get this shot of the Eagle Owl in flight

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Barn Owl

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Golden Eagle © Becca Witt

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Eagle Owl in flight © Becca Witt

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John Barrie the handler with the goshawk © Becca Witt

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Peregrine © Will Parkinson

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Golden Eagle © Will Parkinson

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Barn Owl © Josh Pawlowski

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Golden Eagle © Josh Pawlowski

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Barn Owl © Aaron Burden

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Tawny Owl © Mark Wallwork (one for the photography stores people, says Mark)

David peregrine

Peregrine © David Chapman

David goshawk

Female Goshawk © David Chapman

We also took turns holding the Golden Eagle and the Eagle Owl –

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David having an intimate moment with the Golden Eagle

Highlight of the day was during lunchtime: we had brown hares boxing on the opposite side of the road and they seemed to be too busy to care about us. They fought all the way from the field to the middle of the road. Many of us got some behavioural photos –

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© Will Parkinson

David brown hares

© David Chapman

To finish off –

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Hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog and photos 🙂

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