Scotland Part 2

29th September 2013
As I said in my previous update, a good friend and I had booked a few days in the Rothiemurchus Osprey hides in Aviemore. We had booked the hides earlier on in the year and when we had finished on the Farne Islands Paul gave them a ring just to make sure all was good. As Paul was chatting to one of the guides, I noticed a change in his voice and as I looked at him I could tell there was something wrong. He had the dreaded look on his face of 'how am I going to tell Tony?'.
Me "what's wrong"
Paul "you're not going to like this mate"
Me "what is it"
Paul "Well, he reckons we will only need a 400mm lens or 500 at a push, they have changed the pond that they normally use to a smaller one and built new hides".
Me "You're "£$%&^**"!£$%^ kidding me, why didn't they tell us that when we booked it and why wasn't it mentioned on their website.

I couldn't believe what Paul was telling me, if we had of known before hand we could have borrowed a 300 but instead I was going there with a bloody great 600 and Paul with a 500. This was not good and I was pretty pissed off about it, not only are the hides expensive but we had already booked the hotel so this could well turn into a very expensive waste of time.

Arriving first thing in the morning, I made it clear I wasn't happy and voiced my concerns to the guide. He took account of the fact we were all shooting with big lenses and none of this was mentioned on the phone or the website and he arranged for all the big lenses to be in the furthest hide. This gave us the best chance to fit the bird in frame and it was only by luck that Paul, Tony and I were all shooting on full frame cameras because even the furthest hide was too bloody close.

Image of the hide set up.. (Iphone pano shot)

The light was really poor on the first morning as was the action. We only had one bird drop in and it was all over in seconds and it confirmed my fears that I wasn't going to fit them in frame... well not all the time and when they were in frame they were extremely tight. What made it worse was the fact you couldn't actually see the birds before they dropped in. Osprey's are very skittish and any sign of movement will make them fish elsewhere so with this in mind, they have built the hides so you can't actually look up at the sky. The only way you know there is an Osprey close by is when the guide who is over by the main buildings radios through telling us an Osprey is circling. He will then tell us when it starts it's dive but there's no telling where it will hit which makes it even more difficult to get it in frame.

The following morning was pretty much the same as the previous one but instead of an Osprey we had a Heron.

This wasn't looking good and hours went past without a peep out of the radio so it was getting to the cut off point and I'd given up hope when all of a sudden the radio crackled into life... "Osprey circling and it's starting it's dive". Camera at the ready and there was an almighty splash as in dived in.

By the time I had got it in frame it was already out of the water and heading straight at us.

It knew we were there and looked straight down the lens.

I concentrated on getting it in frame the best I could but its wings were getting clipped. Thankfully it had missed on it's first attempt, so we could have another chance. Sure enough the radio burst into life with it coming in for a second dive which I completely messed up as it was even closer this time.

Again it had missed so I was hoping it was third time lucky. Sure enough it came in again but this time it seemed to have caught one. After the huge eruption of water when it entered it just sat there bobbing up and down and it must have been moving the fish in it's talons. I took a few images but decided to wait for it to take off and try and get some good images with as much in frame a possible.

Lift off with catch in hand.

I couldn't fit the wings in when they were vertical but I was happy with what I had managed to capture and it was an amazing sight, if a little brief.

In the end the Scotland trip was very successful and we came away with images of our target species and the added bonus of seeing the Dolphins which was truly amazing..

Thanks for looking...