I had booked a two day weekend with Jo and Gordon up at Rothymurchis in Aviemore to photograph ducks and leaping trout. Actually thats a lie – it was to photograph Ospreys but the trout and the ducks were intent on photo-bombing many of my shots taken.
I travelled up to Edinburgh on the Thursday and stayed overnight before travelling to Aviemore on the Friday afternoon. After a quick meet and greet with the other guys on the trip and our guides for the weekend it was an early night as we had a 4.00 am meet up the next morning at the Fishery. I must admit this trip was filling me with some trepidation. I had seen so many great photographs taken at Rothy’ and I was a bit concerned I would come back home with lots of out of focus pictures. I had heard the stories about how quick these birds plummet on to the trout and then they are off… not sure I felt I would be able to do these magnificent birds justice.
The first morning we met up in darkness and proceeded to the hides. Which hide we would use depended upon wind direction but we settled in to No4 and waited. The light was non existent so ISO was set at very very high and I was unsure how the D4 would cope with high ISO’s. In fairness any shots taken in this light would just be taken as a record and not for quality of photograph. Having said that IF a bird had come up with two trout in its talons I would not have been worried about quality too much lol. Needless to say that didn’t happen. Early on the only visits were from ducks and a resident heron… What was interesting though was the number of trout that were leaping from the water, probably due to low oxygen levels…
We did get an early dive, not in brilliant light, but the lead up to the dive was a real adrenalin rush. We were using a spotter who was relaying by walkie talkie the position and behaviour of any birds overhead and around the fields etc. The birds tend to circle getting lower and lower before tipping their shoulder and plummeting to the Locken/Pond… You have to be very quick to lock on and then track and let off rapid shots to freeze the action..
There is quite a bit of weight in these fish and coming from under the water in the dive great effort is required by the Osprey to get airborne agin – a great reason to have a wingspan of approaching 5 foot!
The wind actually changed direct so when the air was clear we moved over to Hide 2 and this was a great decision as the dives we had and the exit route for the birds was spectacular…. here are some more photographs.
We finished that session at around 9.30 and everyone was buzzing. We had FOUR dives in the last twenty minutes. This was incredible action considering it had been quiet for many hours previous as birds were calling, being chased off by the dominant bird, and aborting dive after dive…
We returned in the evening and the action continued. Bad light and rain was not kind to us but the birds continued to dive and we had two fantastic pieces of action before packing up at around 8.00 because of the light and rain.
The Sunday morning was strange as all the torrential rain eased as we entered to hide at 4.30 and within an hour or so we were being bathed in bright sunlight. Good news you would have thought but NO !! It was too bright and this would burn out all of the white on the underside of the birds. So we had to photograph in -2 exposure and lower…
Though the action was slower we still had three great dives – one ended up with no fish so the bird regrouped and came in again and had a successful dive.
Would I recommend this trip? Yes I would in fact I loved it so much I have already booked for another in 2015. I stated in a homely bed and breakfast just 2 minutes from the fishery which was ideal. The Cairngorm Hotel does superb food ( and beer) in Aviemore. It was a great trip from start to finish. I already know what shots I will be trying to acquire next year, what mistakes I made this year, and hope the birds return safely for more of the same in 2015! I would also like to do the Ospreys on Perch next year, with Pete Cairns so will add a couple of extra days to the visit, maybe take in some Dolphins as well near Inverness.
Someone just asked about the hides so here is my view on them…. Superb !!! They are just a 5 minute walk ( if that). They seat 5 comfortably, have great viewing, and loads of room behind the seats for gear etc. There are 4 hides so depending upon wind direction depends upon where you will be placed. All thats missing in these hides is a kettle and your slippers lol