Thursday, 24 October 2019


Black Grouse (cock)
We have some pretty amazing wildlife here in The Cairngorms National Park. I'm usually up high on the mountains photographing but the last couple of days I have been wandering about at lower levels to capture some of the birdlife on lower ground. Partly because it's been quite windy on the mountains just recently and also just for a change of scenery. This morning I was up before dawn to capture the Black Grouse. These cousins of the ptarmigan give an amazing display/dance as a mating gesture. Usually there are two or more of these birds that give a display. It's only the cock that does this, as per usual. For me it is their call and singing that is their most unbelievable characteristic.  They kept me waiting for some time, about 2 hours. Worth the wait as two birds arrived at their lek just as the sun flooded the ground.

Didn't stay for long
During my two hours of sitting about on the moorland, I had some lovely company from a female Stonechat singing and hopping on top of the gorse bushes nearby. The Red Grouse were cackling in the background and a flock of pink footed geese flew over head. A wonderful start to the day.

Female Stonechat
In the sunlight
Their usual places to sing from
Best time to observe the Black Grouse is when they are at their lek at dawn. Of course like all wildlife I am at a safe distance and causing no disturbance with a powerful telephoto lens. Where they go after their ritual who knows? They just seem to disappear into the heather.
I headed up Meall a' Bhuachaille later in the day. This is a fine wee hill and a grand viewpoint looking across to the Northern Cairngorms. It was breezy above about 500m. Lovely sunny morning but already the clouds were creeping over the Cairngorm plateau from the SW.
Abernethy Forest

Northern Cairngorms

Just before arriving at the summit of the Bhuachaille there was the cutest wee Snow Bunting battling in the wind and feeding on the last of the Crowberries. He had absolutely no interest in me, more concerned fattening up on what was left of the  Autumn fruits. I spent at least 30 minutes trying to capture him with a big juicy crowberry in his beak. Lying on the ground is the only way to combat high winds with a big lens!
Snow Bunting feeding on the crowberries
Heather giving some shelter from the winds
Beautiful markings
Thank you berry much
After tearing myself away from the Snow Bunting, I headed back down to Glenmore.  I almost got a great snap of a fine looking Red Squirrel sitting in the trees. It may have been a great capture in the last of the colourful, Autuminal golden foilage. Then there was a load of noise and he was away. Until next time.....

Meall a' Bhuachaille path

Fly Agaric

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