Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Weekend in the Highlands

Displaying Capercaillie, originally uploaded by Christopher Mills.
What a beautiful country Scotland is! Before the weekend, I'd only seen the roads to and from Edinburgh on a couple of occasions and little else of the country. Once on the A9 at Perth, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Not quite Switzerland perhaps, but certainly a league above anything the South east of England has to offer for the sheer drama of the landscape. I must say a big thank to my friend Paul - who I've known since we were at playschool back in Addiscombe - for doing ALL of the driving! He also acted as cameraman for what we hope will be a decent video insight into the trip. My tendency to talk rubbish may well have a say here, but I'm looking forward to seeing the results!

The fact that weekend was a success was largely down to a huge slice of luck (about time!) in finding a Capercaillie defending his territory - which just happened to include the footpath we were on. True to my preference for finding my own subjects, we chose to go our own way rather than use tours or safari-type services provided by others. In hindsight, for such a short period of time in an unfamiliar terrain, I think you really need to go down that route for the best chance of getting the shots. Our second day (which only produced a couple of distant red grouse images) proved that point; the mountain hares we saw were flat on the A95, we didn't manage to find any deer or pine martens and only had a fleeting glance of a red squirrel.

The Capercaillie saved the weekend from an images-captured perspective, but I wouldn't have been too disappointed if we hadn't had that luck. The experience itself was worth the journey. We had a 2am climb up the Craigellachie reserve producing great views across Aviemore, snow/rain from a clear sky (!) and ponds brimming with amorous toads and frogs. It looked like the lack of snow this season has had an effect on businesses in the town - though from talking to locals they're still living off the last two winters!

All in all, it was a great weekend with an old friend and produced lots of images of a very special creature. I can't wait for the next trip!

You can find more Capercaillie and other shots from the weekend on flickr -

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