Scottish Wildlife Photo TourThe Scottish Wildlife Photography Tour combines what we class as the two bird photography experiences that can be undertaken in Scotland that are bound to get the heart racing & the adrenalin flowing along with some other activities that will ensure that these 7 days provide the opportunities for any photographer to add a great selection of images to their portfolio. 7 action filled days with 12 separate activities in some of the most stunning landscapes you will encounter is what this nature photography workshop delivers.
The Scottish Big One 2014 – Scottish Wildlife Photography Tour Details
Photography of fishing ospreys in the early summer mornings is without a doubt an exhilarating experience. The sessions typically start at 4.30am or earlier & from that point on it is a waiting game; one hopes that the wind, the weather & the birds all align to provide spectacular opportunities. When these three factors do converge & a dive happens, the action is typically over in a fast & frantic matter of seconds. Ospreys, who feed mostly on medium-sized fish, use their reversible outer toes to catch their prey. Backwards-facing scales on their talons act as barbs to hold their catch tight & they have closable nostrils to keep water out as they dive. An osprey, sometimes known as a fish hawk, begins its hunt by hovering as it searches for its unwitting prey before executing a near vertical, feet first plunge into the water. A successful dive can send the bird up to one metre deep beneath the surface. The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle, or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60cm (24in) in length & 180cm (71in) across the wings. It is brown on the upper parts & predominantly greyish on the head & underparts, with a black eye patch & wings. As its other common name suggests, the Osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialised physical characteristics & exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting & catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion & family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are usually recognized, one of which has recently been given full species status. Despite its propensity to nest near water, the Osprey is not classed as a sea-eagle. The first part of this Scottish Wildlife Photography Tour is based in Aviemore, with four nights accommodation in excellent self catering accommodation in Aviemore, which is within easy reach of both of the hide locations that we use for the morning diving sessions. Accommodation is on a shared twin room basis for the nights of Friday to Monday, (departing Tuesday morning). Whilst the bulk of the days are free for participants to catch up on sleep, one of the days does include a Birds of Prey workshop, at a truly spectacular location that NaturesLens have access to. Whilst the birds that we photograph vary for each occasion that we have the services of the falconer, we typically have access to eagles, hawks, owls & other raptors. An optional session with the iconic Red Squirrels can also been arranged for one morning after the Osprey workshop. Following a hearty breakfast on Tuesday morning, we travel to Mull, to embark on the second heart racing and adrenalin flowing bird photography experience that can be undertaken in Scotland – photographing the stunning White Tailed Sea Eagle. There can be no sight more impressive than this magnificent raptor diving then skimming the surface of a loch to catch fish. Our Sea Eagle Wildlife Photography Workshop consists of six trips to photograph these impressive birds. Each trip is exclusive to our group, meaning that the space on the boat is more plentiful than if there were members of the public on the boat as well. Our skipper has many years of running these trips & is highly knowledgable on the area & it’s wildlife. Like the osprey photography, one hopes that the wind, the weather & the birds all align to provide spectacular opportunities. When these three factors do converge and a dive happens, the action is typically over in a blur of diving eagle against a magnificent backdrop. The White-tailed Eagle is a very large bird. An individual typically measures 66 – 94 cm in length with a 1.78 – 2.45m wingspan. The wingspan, with a midpoint of 2.18m, is on average the largest of any eagle. Females, typically weighing 4 – 6.9 kg, are slightly larger than males, which weigh 3.1 – 5.4kg. The record weight for the species was 7.5kg for a specimen from Scotland, while a more recent huge female from Greenland reportedly spanned 2.53m across the wings. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 55.2 – 71.7cm, the tail is 25 – 33cm, the tarsus is 9.2 – 10.1cm & the exposed culmen is 6 – 6.5 cm. The measurements of eagles from Greenland are in general larger than in other populations of the species. The White-tailed Eagle is sometimes considered the fourth largest eagle in the world & is on average the fourth heaviest eagle in the world. This species has broad “barn door” wings, a large head & a large thick beak. The adult is mainly greyish-brown except for the slightly paler head & neck, blackish flight feathers, & distinctive white tail. All bare parts are yellow in colour, including both the bill & the legs. In juvenile birds, the tail & bill are darker, with the tail becoming white with a dark terminal band in sub-adults. The combination of mousy-brown coloration, broad, evenly-held wings, white tail, strong yellow bill & overall large size render the White-tailed Eagle essentially unmistakable in its native range. Some individuals have been found to live over 25 years, 21 years being the average. This part of the Scottish Wildlife Photo tour is based in Salen on the island of Mull. Our four nights accommodation is at an excellent bed & breakfast, our hosts are the skipper of the boat that will take us on the eagle trips & his wife. Accommodation is on a twin room basis for the nights of Tuesday to Saturday (departing Sunday lunchtime after our last sea eagle trip) & includes breakfast for each of the mornings, (Wednesday to Sunday). No trip to Mull would be complete without the opportunity for some otter spotting. To this end, NaturesLens can optionally arrange a day of Otter spotting with the possibility of spotting Short Eared Owl with a guide who is familiar with their haunts & hunting grounds. Our package is inclusive of travel between Aviemore & Mull. We include all transportation required during the workshop as a matter of course, meaning that all our participants have to concern themselves with is getting ‘the shot’.
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