Andy Howard Nature Photography | Spring Ptarmigan & Dotterel


Spring/Summer Ptarmigan & Dotterel



A day spent in the Cairngorms at this time of the year offers a perfect opportunity to combine the these two very special species, their territories conveniently overlap!

Personally I really enjoy photographing Ptarmigan at this time of the year. The days are longer, the quality of light is superb and it's often very warm, saying that it can also be very cold and there's always the possibility of a late fall of snow. Generally it's a much more pleasant time of the year to spend time in the mountains.

In the later part of the Spring and early Summer months the Ptarmigan are in their Spring moult. The male birds will be changing to a rich chestnut and gold colour whilst the females morph into a delicate blend of gold, black and white plumage. The colourations though between individual birds can be very different and it's still possible to find birds in their pure white plumage (see below). In my opinion it's a crime that these stunning birds are overlooked by so many at this time of year, just because they are deemed to be 'out-of-season'.

By April the Ptarmigan will have paired-up and established their territories, this is a prime time to get up close and personal with them as they tend to be far more relaxed and can be very compliant. Having a photographer close by doesn't seem to bother them at all, in the past I've spent up to five hours with a single pair as they carried on with their daily business as if I didn't exist!



These beautiful waders return to the high tops of the Cairngorms in April and May. It's estimated that there are approximately five hundred breeding males in the UK.

Spending time with these dainty birds is a very special experience, they can be super tame at times and will often run towards you.

Dotterel are a Schedule 1A species - This means that it's an offence to wilfully disturb them during their breeding season. The primary concern will always be the birds welfare and our impact to them will always be on their terms.


A full Day

1 to 1 £225 - 1 to 2 £295 - 1 to 3 £325

A deposit of £50 is required at the time of booking.


What's included.

Fully attention of the guide.

Pre-arrival chat and advice on recommended kit.

Support and advice on camera settings (if required).

Field craft training and guidance.

A deep understanding and knowledge of this species gained by 100's of hours spent 'in the field'.

A shared love of both of these enigmatic species!

A Caledonian Pine tree planted on your behalf as part of my 'Giving Back to Nature' policy.


What's not included.

Transport to and from the location.

Food and beverages.


(Help and advice on accommodation and travel is available upon request)