Tuesday, 5 March 2013

March 2013

March has started in the same style as February with a trip to Scotland to continue filming for my final media project. A month certainly makes a difference up here and the mountains were much easier to work with under much finer weather conditions. Ryan Deal and I arrived on the 1st to clear blue skies. Our first port of call was an undisclosed site to see a rogue Capercallie that treated us to outstanding views. I have always wanted to see one of these rogue birds and certainly wasn't disappointed. Once the bird found us, displayed a little, it wasn't long before it calmed down and went back to feeding in Pines. It was quite a sight to see the bird take flight just metres away.
Next stop was Mount Cairngorm, where my aim was to film Ptarmigan on the summit. It was still perfectly clear and Ptarmigan appeared to be in abundance here, as were Snow Buntings. Within a few hours I had completed my objective and collected all the footage I required so despite being early afternoon we decided to check out the area where the Snowy Owl had been reported. We made it Garbh Uisge Beag where the bird had last been reported but no sign so began the tiring walk back as time was already getting on. Inevitably though, the bird was reported once we got back to the hostel from the next valley over.
On the 2nd the weather had closed in and Cairngorm was shrowded in thick cloud. So instead visited Lochindorb to film Red Grouse and the River Spey for Goldeneye and Dipper. The evening was spent in the pub with Josh Jones, Kit Day and James Hunter who were on their way down from the Outer Hebrides.

The 3rd was again similar to the previous so again we couldn't try for the Snowy Owl. We started with Black Grouse and Crested Tits before heading off to the Lecht Ski Centre where Mountain Hares really gave me the run around!! Eventually I managed to approach one close enough to obtain footage suitable for my project.

However, weather for the 4th looked much more promising. We hired crampons and shortly after dawn made our way to the summit and then in the direction of Ben Macdui to spend our final day looking for the Snowy Owl. Low cloud was frequently rolling in, several times we became disorientated as you loose sense of direction and also distance but every now and then the cloud lifted so we could get back on track. Within 3 hours we had made it to Garbh Uisge Moi. The cloud once again conveniently lifted as I set out scanning, we walked the entire circumference of the valley checking likely exposed rocky areas to no avail. Thick cloud was on its way back in and just about to cover some rocks when I noticed a familiar outline. Ryan missed it at first as it disappeared from view so quickly but after several minutes of waiting the cloud retreated; and sat in amongst the rocks was a stunning male Snowy Owl. Simply incredible to see it in such a natural habitat surrounded by snow; far better than the bird I had previously seen on a moor in Cornwall. We watched the bird for a matter of minutes, Ryan got the shots whilst I got some footage before the inevitable happened. The cloud came in and we couldn't see no further than 50 feet infront of us but once it lifted several minutes later the bird had gone! We have no idea where it went and couldn't relocate it afterwards but judging by the displaying Ptarmigan it was no longer in the vicinity.

After Scotland I spent a few days at uni in Cumbria before continuing south to Hampshire where my visit was equally brief. With just enough time to see a few birds in the county that included the Pennington Marshes Green-winged Teal and Farlington Marshes Spoonbill and wintering Red-breasted Goose amongst the Brents. The remainder of the month was spent in Israel.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ashley,

    Well done on successfully twitching the Snowy Owl and I'm glad you found your way back OK. I saw the bird on March 1st in fabulous conditions and managed to get some photographs, but no video.