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Image of the month



February 2013


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The Cairngorms

After a couple of nights at home, I travelled back to Scotland on the overnight sleeper train.  It really is the best way to get to Scotland.. especially after drinking a few glasses of red wine in the lounge car before attempting to sleep.  The sleeper carriages were probably designed by the same person who thought up battery chicken cages and it's impossible to move and the train seems to stop every few miles but it's definitely better than driving as you gain a whole extra day! 

I spent about 10 days in the Cairngorms this year and it really gave me the chance to focus on a few species and improve my portfolios.  I stayed with some of my very best friends at the Steading and couldn't recommend a place or the company more highly.  It was a wonderful time, well spent.

I wanted to come away with an improved portfolio of woodland birds.  I really didn't have a decent picture of a robin before this trip. 

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Great Spotted Woodpeckers put in regular appearances in a stand of silver birch trees.  I rather like the silvery appearance of the background in this picture which seems to complement the silver birch.  The light was quite bright and cool at this particular point.

I was very excited to see both male and female Siskins but they didn't hang around long and so I look forward to photographing them again in the future

I have Goldfinches feeding regularly in my north London garden but it's impossible to get a shot of them with a clean background.  They are quite aggressive little birds and constantly push other birds away from the feeders.  It soon became clear that if one turned up, its pair wouldn't be too far behind.  I quite like the image of the back of the Goldfinch showing its magnificent colouring.

The image of a blue tit against a blue background is a real favourite.  The blue is simply the colour of the mountain on the opposite side of the valley... no photoshop, just nature at its best in Scotland and unmistakable.

And a blog about the Cairngorms without a Crested Tit would be incomplete.  I have now spent 5 or 6 days photographing them and so I'm beginning to get a decent portfolio together.  This is quite a typical jaunty pose with the Crestie hanging acrobatically from a pine sapling.

No blog on the Cairngorms would be complete without some Red Squirrel images and of course, the current vogue is for jumping squirrels... so here's a sample of my many attempts.  It's great fun but damn difficult and I certainly haven't cracked it yet.

Apart from portrait shots I also wanted to get some 'squirrel in context' images and here's a favourite from this year of a squirrel pausing on a broken branch with a hazelnut

Loch Morlich was frozen and once again, provided a perfect setting to photograph Mallards.  If these ducks were rare, perhaps they would be appreciated more than they are.  Slip sliding on the ice and being blown over in the gusty winds, these beautiful ducks provided many happy hours of photography.  Here are a couple of my favourites.

The planned trip to look for Ptarmigan was called off because of the severe weather conditions and instead, nature offered a wonderful opportunity to photograph Snow Bunting ... in the snow!  How they spot a few nyger seed thrown into the snow I will never  know.  I don't know how they manage to survive at all in the extreme conditions.  They are obviously a lot tougher than they look!

Alan from Skyhigh Falconry brought some of his beautiful birds of prey up to the Cairngorms and it was a wonderful opportunity to try to create imaginative images of the birds in their natural settings

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There are many more images scattered around my galleries and of course, the 'proper' images on screen or in print look altogether sharper in high resolution.  Apologies for the quality of these low resolution, quick upload images.

Thanks for reading this... and thanks to my friends both on and outside the Natures Images trip who made the whole Cairngorm experience so magical  x x