Our one-week, Seeing Scotland Photo-Safari for 2014 began at 8am on Saturday 5th July with a drive from Aberdeen to Gairnshiel, where we spent some time looking for Red Grouse to photograph. The weather was a little overcast and the birds were not very obliging but we did manage to get some images of Red Grouse adults and fledged chicks. Joining us, not for the first time, was our good friend and Nikon expert, Jason from Icarus Owen Photography whose knowledge of Nikon cameras is always helpful for our workshop participants.
From Gairnshiel we headed towards Corgarff, stopping to photograph a forest regeneration area, with old trees surrounded by saplings and young trees of several sizes. In the village, we visited a photography exhibition by Gerard Murphy in the village hall. We then continued up to the viewpoint on Hill of Allargue to photograph Corgarff Castle, nestled in the glen below.
Corgarff Castle on an overcast day (Sony A99, 24-70 f2.8ZA @ 70mm, f10, ISO 400, 1/50th sec).
From Corgarff, we doubled back and headed through Gairnshiel to continue along Royal Deeside. We stopped at the Glenshee Ski Centre, intending to have lunch and climb up Cairnwell to the summit in search of Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare. As we sat eating lunch in the Ski Centre restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised to see the chair lift was operating, so we took the lazy option and got a ride to the summit of Cairnwell. A few brief glimpses of Mountain Hare and no decent photographs later, we were treated to some great views and photo-opportunities with the Ptarmigan. During the Summer months, Ptarmigan are very difficult to spot, as their speckled plumage is perfectly camoflaged against the lichen-covered rocks and Heather.We usually have better luck in the Winter, when they turn white and their bright red eyebrows stand out against the snow. However on this occasion, we were able not only to spot them but to get some great photographs as a Ptarmigan mother with chicks wandered over the brow of the hill.
Female Ptarmigan on a rock (Sony A99, Sigma 120-400 @ 400mm, f8, ISO 500, 1/500th sec).
Ptarmigan mother with chicks (Sony A99, Sigma 120-400 @ 400mm, f6.3, ISO 640, 1/500th sec)
After a stunning few hours on Cairnwell, we took the chair lift back down and drove to Pitlochry for our first overnight stop.
Click on the link below to read about the second day...
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