Caledonian Caper - Part 1
Firstly a big apology for the lack of recent posts. I have been having a 'blog holiday' to recharge the batteries. I figured I deserved a short break after 6.5 years.. Mind you I have been struggling with the photography over the last few weeks due to the continuously dire weather coinciding with my free time. I have been getting the odd photo here and there but nothing really constructive. Anyway, hopefully the weather should start to pick up soon , although certainly not for next week having just seen the forecast, and the first of the spring migrant birds are starting to come in to the south of the UK.
About 3 weeks ago I went on a bit of a road trip to the Highlands of Scotland. In fact it was a round trip of around 800 miles to go and photograph a single bird. Sounds slightly crazy but it was a very special bird and I will describe the trip over this and the next blog post. I was told of the location of this special bird and given that it is very Territorial, was confident it could be found. Mind you when your travelling so far for a single bird, doubts inevitably creep in to the mind 'would it still be there?' being the most important.
So late on the Sunday afternoon my very good friend Andy and I set off on the long journey northwards under the promise of a forecast of unusually fine Scottish weather for the next two days. It probably took about 6 hours to get to our destination and we arrived in darkness under crisp, clear star-filled skies. Having checked into our accommodation, it was time for an early night for an early start in the morning to go and find the special bird.
The next morning I pulled back the garden to see clear skies and a heavy overnight frost and after a hearty, if slightly unhealthy, full cooked breakfast we set out to find the bird. After a twenty minute drive we parked up along side a beautiful old pine forest with well spaced trees dripping in lichen and mosses. A short walk into the forest and we arrived at the 'spot'. Please do not email asking where this 'spot' is, as I will not be divulging to protect a species that is really struggling to survive in the UK! It took about 5 minutes to find the bird or more correctly for the bird to find us. The bird we had made this epic voyage for was a solitary rogue male Capercaillie.
A rogue bird is one that has not found a mate, and is completely overloaded with hormones and will quite happily attack anything within the vicinity regardless of size. They are a large powerful bird, with a very sharp beak and can cause damage. My friend Andy had a prolonged encounter with one in Scandinavia, as he was stuck in deep snow, which broke his finger. As with all wildlife photography the most important aspect is to show respect for your subject, unfortunately a testosterone filled 'Caper' shows a complete disrespect for photographers!
Two happy photographers headed back to the car, leaving the snoozing 'Caper'. We decided we would try for another specialist in the afternoon, the ptarmigan. For me the afternoon did not go well as you will see in my next post.