Wildlife Photography in The Scottish Highlands

May 02, 2012  •  1 Comment

This is a quick review of the photo opportunities I managed to find in during my first trip to Scotland, in April 2012.

Red Grouse are charming looking birds, and great posers. I'd love to spend some more time with the Red Grouse, as they're very photogenic, and their characterful poses really make for interesting photos. Occupying open moorland, the Red Grouse are a classic Scottish bird...


One thing I've been trying to get to see for a year now, is a gannet colony. I was totally taken by them after seeing one in Wales the previous spring, so we took a trip out to RSPB Troup Head and perched ourselves on the cliff edge for a few hours. They're really spectacular looking birds, and they soar through the air, with such apparent ease. In the future, I'd love to photograph them diving into the sea to catch fish, but for a first attempt, I was focussing on in-flight shots. But I was looking to get something other than the usual flight shots, so I took the time to try out plenty of different ideas. The photo below has proven very popular, reaching #9 in Flickr's Explore...

Gannet - Flying Low Over SeaGannet - Low Over Sea


And of course, a trip to the Cairngorms wouldn't be complete without seeing their most emblematic raptor; the Osprey. I was fortunate to be treated to a fly-over by a couple of Ospreys during my visit. I also watched one hover for some time over the water, as it looked for a fish below. I was willing it to take a dive, as I followed it through my viewfinder, but the wind was really ripping over the water surface, and he moved off to look elsewhere...

Osprey, in the Cairngorms


Last but not least, I was keen to try and see the dolphins, which frequent the Moray Firth and the whole coastline around that area. I didn't fancy our chances, especially having seen nothing on a three hour dolphin boat-trip in Wales last year. But to my surprise, we were treated, not only to some dolphin sightings, but some pretty close-up encounters at that. No jumping or huge numbers, but three dolphins were fishing the waters in front of us for three hours or so. It may have taken another three hours for my limbs to defrost after sitting out there that long, but it was worth it...

Dolphins in the Moray Firth


I absolutely loved Scotland. Apart from the animals I was able to photograph, I was able to watch Black Grouse lekking, Golden Eagle,, CapercaillieRed Deer, Mountain Hare, Red Squirrels, Reindeer, a dipper, and a whole lot more. For me, it was the perfect mix of towns and wild spaces, and every kind of habitat from mountains & forests, to coastal beaches and mud-flats. I really can't wait to go again. I think I can do better with the Ospreys, Red Grouse, and the Capercaillie, and there'll be plenty more to discover second time around too.

But I don't know when I will be able to get back there. It's likely to be a couple of years, as we have so many other plans, and it's not exactly on our doorsteps. I'd also like to get to the West Coast of Scotland, and see the White-Tailed Eagles. Now they're huge. Maybe I'll get there next time....

Post by George Wheelhouse, 2012.


Opticron Binoculars(non-registered)
Marvelous shots. Everyone of these is superb. Great work.
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