Winter Wildlife in the Cairngorms

Please contact me regarding 2023 tours.

 

 

Winter is a fabulous time to photograph wildlife in the Highlands, the quality of the daylight at this time of the year is soft and clear. The high slopes of the Cairngorms are a veritable winter wonderland. Everyones favourite, the Mountain Hare are gathering in their snowy forms. Their thick white winter pelage protects them from the biting wind as they lie in the shelter of the leeward slopes. Down in the relative shelter of the Caledonian pine forest, the crested tits and squirrels are constantly buzzing around the feeders at our woodland feeding sites. On the windswept moors the Red Grouse slowly meander through the heather and grassy tussocks, forlornly picking at the nutrient-poor shoots of heather.  The majestic Red Deer stags gather in small herds and gently while away the hours sleeping and feeding by the roadside, how convenient for the photographer?!

 

For those of you that know me, it will come as no surprise to you that I absolutely adore the winter months in the Highlands. The wildlife is more approachable and the low winter sun casts a soft forgiving light. My love for nature has been with me from my formative years and some of my earliest childhood memories include close encounters with birds and wildlife. I love to share my passion for nature and experiences with others; I would love for you to join me on one of my Winter Wildlife photo tours.  I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about any of my tours; please feel free to contact me with your query.

 

 

Primary Species:
 

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

Mountain Hare, Red Deer, Red Grouse, Crested Tit (Exclusive Private Site), Red Squirrel (Exclusive Private Site), Snow Bunting.

 

 

Secondary Species:
 

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

Otters, Red Kite, Golden Eagle, White Tail Eagle, Dipper, Wild Goats, Roe Deer, Snow Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Siskin, Robin, Long-Tailed Duck, Purple Sandpiper, Goldeneye, Eider, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstone, Whooper Swans, Geese.


 

 

What’s Included:
 

Five fully catered Photography Days plus five nights accommodation, travel on your arrival in Inverness.
 

Additional night of accommodation on a Dinner, bed & Breakfast basis are available at an additional cost of £100.00 per person per night.
 

Breakfast – Served in the hotel.
 

Elevenses – Tea, coffee served with plenty of snacks.
 

Lunch - Hearty soup, filled rolls & snacks served with tea, coffee.
 

Afternoon Coffee - Tea, coffee with plenty of snacks.
 

Dinner: Two course dinner served to you in the hotel.

 

Introduction to Curling session: Fun evening session with a fully qualified curling coach lasting approx. one and a half hours.
 

Travel: All Travel from your arrival in Inverness in a comfortable 4X4 fitted with full winter tyres.
 

Guiding/Tuition: The full attention from Andy your local guide, who has an in-depth knowledge of both the locations and species visited during this tour. Patient and courteous help and advice when and where it’s required.
 

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

 


 

Accommodation:
 

Your accommodation on this workshop will be at the award winning Newton Hotel in Nairn, which is located to the east of Inverness and only15 minutes from Inverness airport. Nairn is the perfect town for a quiet evening walk or run with the hotel also being just a few minuets from the beach.


The hotel has been carefully selected due its comfortable rooms, delicious food and friendly staff. There is also an inviting lounge bar to enjoy a post dinner dram (or two!). There is ample on site parking available at no extra cost, free guest wifi and all rooms are double en-suite with no single supplement.

Itinerary:
 

Day 1: Sunday

Arrival day - We will all rendezvous in the lounge bar at 18:00 (check-in from 16:00) for a pre-tour drink and chat and discuss the week ahead.

 

Dinner and early to bed!

 

Day 2: Monday

Being the start the week we'll start with a nice and easy day. After a relaxing and unrushed breakfast I'll pick you up in the comfortable 4X4 ready for our first day out with the cameras. The morning will consist of a session at our own private Red Squirrel site, we established this site in 2015 and now have up to eight squirrels visiting us on a daily basis. Over the years we have honed and developed a technique to capture images of jumping squirrels leaping in mid-air. In the Autumn of 2017 we installed a large fibre glass reflection pool, this in turn with the leaping squirrel set-up will ensure you of a collection of squirrel images that you will not only be proud of but will also stand out from the crowd. 
 

Day 3: Tuesday
 

After breakfast I will pick you up from the hotel. Weather permitting we’ll head for the moorland and hills in search of Red Grouse and Snow Buntings. We will be concentration on capturing top-quality images of both these species, focusing on how to select the perfect backgrounds and settings to maximise the impact of your images. Both these species involve very little walking.

This day is subject to change due to the nature of the location, an alternative species/day will be scheduled in the case of inclement weather.

Home for dinner. Sit back and enjoy your photographs.

 

Day 4: Wednesday
 

Its a short 10 minute walk up a hill track to our exclusive and private Crested tit site, once on-site we will spend the whole day with my absolute favourite woodland bird, we will make use of the available light using it to maximise the impact of your images of these delightful wee birds. The site benefits from sun from first thing in the morning until just before sundown. The Cresties are not only great fun to photograph they are also extremely photogenic. Lyndsey and I established this site in 2014 and after  spending many months searching for the optimum Crested Tit site, we chose this spot, not only for the abundance of Cresties but the quality of the light and availability of the clean backgrounds. There are infinite possibilities for different styles of images. The only thing that will limit you is your imagination.

NEW ACTIVITY - An evening curling session with a fully qualified coach. This is a fun a relaxed introduction to the Winter Olympic sport of curling, all equipment is included. This has proved to be very popular with previous guests and is a nice addition to this winter workshop. 

Dinner – Bed.
 

Day 5: Thursday
 

Today after a tasty cooked breakfast we’ll be heading to the hills to spend the day in the company of my favourite, the Mountain Hares. At this time of the year they’ll be in their thick and cosy white winter pelage, and fingers crossed, we’ll have the opportunity to photograph them in snow. Depending on the weather conditions we may have lunch on the hillside. I will be on hand to guide you to the best hares in the best locations, taking into consideration the direction of the light and backgrounds. On this day you’ll learn about field-craft and the behavioural aspects of the hares, by the end of the day you’ll know what the hare’s going to do next, before it does!

*Please note that due to a decline in the mountain hare population my new locations are more exposed and are subject to favourable wind speeds*
 

Dinner – Log fire – Bed – Dream of hares.
 

Day 6: Friday
 

I think by now you will be familiar with how the schedule works! Breakfast.
 

Don’t be too despondent because this is the last day, as you’ve still got an action packed day to look forward to. The day will be spent with the majestic and regal Red Deer Stags, we will spend the morning photographing them in a remote hidden Glen before switching in the afternoon to a location close to Aviemore to photograph the stags in a Caledonian forest setting, outside the vehicle out in the open with the deer just a few metres away!. The session will lasts just over an hour and requires you walking no more than 10m!
 

16:00 - End of Tour

 

An extra night of accommodation on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis is available at an additional charge of £100.00.

 

Full Board

£1695
 

Maximum number of clients: 3
 

All Travel from your arrival in Inverness is included.
 

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

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!