Following my trip to Scotland in January, I spent a couple of weeks at home before returning to the Scottish Highlands, only this time the visit focused on working. I had, after huffing and puffing up the slopes in January, hoped to spend these interim weeks getting a bit fitter, but instead was laid low with a stinking cold, and I just knew the hills and my legs wouldn't get on.
Before the guiding started though, I had a couple of days to spend with friends, and with a light dusting of snow, we called into the red squirrel hide, to catch up with the local inhabitants' antics.
The "running down the log" shot proved trickier than I thought, but the squirrels repeated the process enough times for me to get my eye in, and get a decent shot or two.
The majority of the first week was to be spent taking photographers up the slopes, to see mountain hares. Each day varied in terms of the hares we saw and approached, which made for an interesting and challenging week. It was also pretty painful at times, as the slopes which appear to be carpeted with heather, are actually littered with hidden rocks, and bruised knees and shins became the norm. The mornings also got a fair bit earlier by the end of the week when the 10:30am restriction on walking up the hills was lifted, when the deer stalking ceased.
The weekend provided me with a day off, and Lyndsey and I took the coast road along to the harbours, to see if anything interesting was about. Not much, alas, apart from cormorants, gulls and a few seals, making the most of the scraps dished out by the returning fishing boats.
Hares again for the Sunday, though this time I was able to hook up with Andy and his clients, who were also on the hills photographing these wonderful creatures. Settling around a jill (female hare) we were able to observe her behaviour, whilst watching the antics of other hares on the hills.
The second half of my Highlands guiding trip was to be spent with one client, a friend from back home. While he wanted images of hares, he was mainly hoping to get shots of an animal he'd never seen before; red squirrels. Amusingly, within moments of him seeing one in the flesh for the first time, one was sat next to him in the hide, only a few inches from his arm!
The resident star named Tippy, on account of the colour of the end of her tail returned, and provided me with a few attempts at the shot.
The squirrels continued to perform for an hour or so after the airport drop off, and I managed to get a cracking shot of Tippy in an almost Superman style leap.
After all the walking up the hills, I had joked that I wouldn't go back to see the hares during my stay, but overnight there was a fall of snow, and by morning clear blue skies greeted me as I opened the curtains. I knew I would regret it if I didn't revisit them, so made the effort once more, and after approaching and settling down near a hare, I waited patiently in the snow for some action.
I wanted to get some more "small in frame" images of the hares, so didn't bother getting too close to the one in front of me.
My last images taken were of a calm and partially frozen Loch Farr, though the sunset never really summoned any colours to add to the scene.
I will be adding 2018 dates to my website soon, if you would like to join me for a guided day out in the Scottish Highlands.