Osprey Masterclass 2021
 

Masterclass #1

Mon 26th July - Thurs 29th July 2021 - FULL

 

Masterclass #2

Wed 11th August - Sat 14th August 2021 - FULL

 

 

 

In my quest to improve what I offer to my guests for my 2021 Osprey masterclasses, there are two exciting changes. 

The first is the location of your accommodation: this masterclass will now be based at the delightful Rowan Tree Country Hotel, a quaint owner-run hotel conveniently located just a short five minute drive from the osprey hides. Dinner will be taken in their restaurant each evening with a wide choice of delicious, home cooked food, to choose from their à la carte menu.

Secondly is the addition of a session at a hide located a short drive away on the banks of the river Feshie and is quite simply an osprey on a branch eating a trout! I'm doing it a disservice with this description as it's a truly stunning location. I thoroughly enjoyed my session in the hides in August 2018 and was blown away by the majesty and beauty of an osprey as he fed, perched just a few metres away from the hide. We will have exclusive use of the hides on this day. 

*Please note that there is no guarantee the birds that nest near to this set-up will have a successful breeding season, therefore if their attempt to breed fails I will replace this session with an additional evening session with the diving hides.

 

Osprey returned to Strathspey in the late 1950s and from then on have progressively increased in numbers and are found all over the UK.  The Cairngorms still remains their main stronghold, and it’s not unusual to see up to five or six Ospreys in the skies over Aviemore.

 

 

As with all my workshops and tours the primary focus of this tour will be how we can help you achieve the very best images possible. And I will help you with the best ways to optimise your camera settings, plus how to be ready and prepared for the action when it happens, it is therefore imperative the group size is kept to a maximum of three guests, any larger than this and we would be split between hides, not a good thing to give on-the-spot feedback/advice.

 

 

Photographing diving Ospreys in the Highlands can only be described as one of the most addictive and thrilling forms of wildlife photography available today. The explosive speed the Ospreys hit the water is just mind-blowing.  Once the initial explosion of the bird hitting the water has occurred what happens next is totally dependent on the success of the dive; if the bird misses it takes off again circles above, and lines up for another attempt. If the dive is successful and the fish is of a decent size you can actually see the Osprey being tugged and pulled down by the it!  I’ve seen the Osprey sitting in the water with wings spread whilst the panic stricken fish pulls the bird around the pond. This really is nature in its rawest, and this is happening less than ten metres away from where you sit!

 

 

It’s when the Osprey has a firm grip, in a cascade of thousands of droplets of water, it lifts out of the water, and now is the optimum time to capture those iconic images. In a perfect world the bird will take off in our direction and fly right over the hide (this doesn’t always happens but when it does, it certainly gets the adrenaline going). The hide echoes and reverberates to the sound of the clatter of rattling camera shutters, and it's only then that the silence returns as everyone start ‘chimping’*.

*Chimping is a term denoting the noise made by photographers as they review images on the LCD screen on the back of their camera. It is said it resembles the ‘ooow ooow ooow’ noises made by excited chimpanzees!

 

 

For the diving ospreys will use a purpose-built hide and Osprey pond created to allow for low-perspective images. The hides are spacious and comfortable. Each of the morning sessions will be guided by a spotter who, via a walkie-talkie, gives us a few seconds of a warning of an impending osprey about to dive......"Bird Circling"......"Stand-By"......"Diving, Diving, DIVING!"

The evening session will be also guided but this time by yours truly!

 

 

If we’re lucky we will get numerous dives in each session but like in many situations with photographing wildlife there are no guarantees. I’ve found this makes it all the more special when ‘it happens’. If I said there was an ‘average’ morning I’d be lying, no two sessions are the same and it can be a bit of a lottery at times. I encourage and implore my clients to make use of all the opportunities that may occur at all times when ‘in the field’. From the hide there are ample opportunities to photograph species other than the ospreys. Mallard ducks, Herons and the ultimate challenge of all, a leaping trout! In 2015 I witnessed and photographed a rather brutal Heron capturing and devouring a Water Vole. Not content with this it then set upon a duckling and ate that too! Those pictures made it in to the national press and were printed by a number of newspapers. In 2018 I had another run in the national press with images of a mallard attacking an osprey, You never know what what's going to happen!

 

 

Each session starts post-dawn and lasts until approximately 9am, at which point we will then return to the hotel for a late breakfast, time for a quick freshen up, before we head out to make use of the rest of the day. One of the late morning/afternoons will be spent with red squirrels at my purpose-built hide. Shots of leaping squirrels will be the order of the day although more classic portrait style images will also be an option.

 

 

Primary Species:
 

These are the species we will be concentrating on as our main photographic subjects.


Osprey, Red Squirrel.
 

Secondary Species:

These are species I regularly see and photography on a typical outing whilst photographing the above. If any of these species present a good photographic opportunity, we’ll not pass them by!
 

Mallard Ducks, Heron, Golden Eagle, White Tail Eagle, Dipper, Wild Goats, Roe & Red Deer.

 

What’s Included:

THREE guided morning sessions photographing diving Ospreys plus ONE evening session, ONE session at a hide to photograph an osprey on a log whilst it devours a fish. One session photographing Red Squirrels. Three nights of accommodation at the delightful Rowan Tree Country Hotel. Additional nights accommodation are available at an additional charge.

Food & Drink: Breakfast, lunch, Dinner, Hot drinks and snacks out with the hotel. For your evening meal at the Rowan tree restaurant a credit of £25.00 will be allocated to you to spend on whatever you choose from the a la carte menu.

Travel: All Travel from your arrival in Inverness/Aviemore.

Guiding/Tuition: The full attention of the guide, help and assistance with camera settings as and when required.

Group Size: I believe passionately in small groups sizes, the MAXIMUM number of clients for this workshop is just THREE. This ensures you will receive copious amounts of help and encouragement, this in turn will aid you to capture the best possible images whilst learning along the way.

Fun & Humour: Photographing wildlife should be an enjoyable experience. Although I'm serious about helping to obtain the best possible images, this will be done in a fun and relaxed way.

Fitness: This is a low to medium intensity tour, you will need to have a basic level of fitness, if you're not sure about this please feel free to contact me to discuss it.

 

What’s Not Included:

Insurance, Drinks in the Hotel, any other items not mentioned on this page. 

 

Itinerary:
 

Day 1: 

Arrival Day - for those flying or traveling by train you will be picked up at your point of arrival in Aviemore or Inverness and driven to the hotel. If you are traveling under your own steam we will rendezvous at 18:00 at the hotel for a masterclass chat about the days ahead, dinner then an early night as there's an early start tomorrow.

 

Day 2: 

​04:15 - Pick up from the hotel to be in the hide for 04:30. First of the first Osprey photography sessions.

​09:00 - End of first hide session.

09:30 - Breakfast

​13:00 - Session at the 'Osprey on the log' set-up*

​19:00 Dinner at the hotel.

 

Day 3

04:15 - Pick up from the hotel to be in the hide for 04:30. The second diving Osprey photography sessions.

​09:00 - End of first hide session.

09:30 - Breakfast

​The remainder of the morning and early afternoon will be spent photographing Red Squirrels.

​16:00 - Back to the Osprey hide for the third diving osprey hide session - An evening session trying to capture some backlit images.

​Late Dinner back at the hotel.

 

Day 4:

04:15 - Pick up from the hotel to be in the hide for 04:30. The fourth and final diving Osprey photography sessions.

​09:00 - End of first hide session.

09:30 - Breakfast

End of Masterclass

 

Cost £1595
 

A non -refundable deposit of £495 will be required at the time of booking. The balance will be due six weeks before the first day.

 

*Please note that there is no guarantee the birds that nest near to this set-up will have a successful breeding season, therefore if their attempt to breed fails I will replace this session with an additional evening session with the diving hides.
 

Please note: The schedule can change at short notice due to climatic conditions. If this situation arises an appropriate alternative schedule will be introduced, to maximise both your enjoyment and photographic opportunities. There’s always something worth photographing!