Highlights II & The End – MNHP Cairngorms 2017

Today we spent another 5 hours in the minibus, arriving back in Falmouth just after lunchtime. Continuing with the highlights of our adventures in Cairngorms National Park from the rest of the team:


Georgia:

My absolute highlight of the trip is photographing the deer in the snow – it was such a magical and beautiful experience! My second highlight is the snow bunting which we were lucky to find! Lastly, the sense of achievement after climbing all the mountains and hills! It was 100% worth it!

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(c) Georgia Raybould

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(c) Georgia Raybould

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Aaron:

I think the highlight of the trip for me was photographing the Red Deer close up and then getting lucky with the weather, the snow was unexpected but welcomed by all on the trip. It’s probably safe to say that everyone on the trip came away with something they will remember for many years to come.

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(c) Aaron Burden

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(c) Aaron Burden

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(c) Aaron Burden


Carys:

The Cairngorms has been an experience I won’t soon forget!

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From stalking ptarmigans when we thought all hope was lost!

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Photographing red deer in a flurry of snow just barely three meters away from us!

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and lastly, they may not be the most iconic of species in the Cairngorms but following and stalking Snow Buntings with Daphne, Becca and Josh in the snow for hours was spectacular!


My personal highlights:

This trip to Cairngorms has given us many awesome moments with wildlife and great opportunities to photograph them. Although Cairngorms had me sun/wind-burned and chilled to the bone at times, this past week has been incredible and I think I am in love with Cairngorms! I managed to tick over 20 species off by my British bird list during the trip, with the most special birds being the ptarmigan and crested tit.  I am amazed by the amount and variety of wildlife Cairngorms holds. Nature always take us by surprise and here are my top 3 moments from the trip (all surprises!):

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Boxing Hares in the middle of the road – The two came out of nowhere when we were having lunch. The commotion left us running for our cameras, and the two did not seem to mind us at all and fought all the way from the field to the middle of the road!

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Ptarmigan couple on Cairngorm Mountain – Climbing to the top of Cairngorm Mountain was certainly not an easy task, particularly with our cameras and heavy lenses along with snow and hail. We were about to give up and head back down when Josh, Carys, David and I stumbled upon the Ptarmigan couple pictured. The people who ran back up joined us for a very successful shoot lying in the snow!

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Mountain Hare at Ladder Hills – I have always wanted to successfully stalk a mountain hare. After countless failures, I tried my luck in a small valley on Ladder Hills. I was not even in my ‘stalking mode’ when I went round the corner and spotted this mountain hare sat staring at me. I was very surprised (as much as the hare I think) but still managed to calmly crawled over and took a few photos before it ran off. The intimate eye contact with this mountain hare will stay in my heart forever!


Mark:

I found this years Cairngorms crew exceeding themselves with their photography and the work ethic has been fantastic. We have had a couple of first time experiences this year, photographing the deer and seeing boxing hare’s in such close range. I can’t really pinpoint any highlights because the whole trip has been a fantastic experience. I would like to personally thank everyone who was on the trip, especially David for his relentless hard work and dedication.

 


David:

My favourite wildlife moment of the trip was watching the brown hares boxing.  I have never seen such aggression between hares and to see it so close-up with everyone able to enjoy it was a rare privilege.

The moment of greatest satisfaction was spotting the pair of ptarmigan on Cairngorm just as I thought we might have missed the opportunity.  It was made extra special by the confiding nature of this pair of birds and the fact that most of the group got great photos of them.

The greatest pleasure I have from leading this trip was to witness the excitement of the students as they photographed some of the very special wildlife of the area.  I am delighted that all the students had a really good time and I would like to thank Mark Wallwork for his tireless commitment to the trip.  He is always prepared to go the extra mile to help the students and does everything with a smile on his face.  Without him it wouldn’t have been possible.

The banter on the trip was excellent and I promise not to mention the flag again!

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Mark with the Golden Eagle

So this blog marks the end of our trip to Cairngorms National Park. These past 10 days have been the best time of my life, with all the wildlife surrounding me and the most brilliant team with the same passion for nature. It has been a privilege to be on this year’s team. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a dinner table before, and the long rides on the minibus would be so boring without the banter. I think I have to thank Josh especially for putting up with my sleeping style on the minibus, sorry for head-butting you…

I would also like to, on behalf of everyone, thank David and Mark for their hard work in organising the trip, guidance throughout the journey, and most importantly for making the trip so much fun! This trip wouldn’t be the same without you two’s chemistry :’)

It has been my absolute pleasure to blog on behalf of the team. Although stressful at times, I am very happy to be able to share the happiness and excitement we had in the Cairngorms National Park. Josh and Carys will be curating an exhibition to showcase our work, and a few people will be putting together footage to create films so keep an eye out for them as well!

I am feeling the post-Cairngorms blues already – Cairngorms I will be back very soon!

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Dabbing Team MNHP Cairngorms 2017

Hope you have enjoyed the blog! 🙂

 

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