Female Ptarmigan on a ski lek
My first target was a species I've never seen before the ptarmigan which is a member of the grouse family. Normally found higher up the the mountain ranges they blend in very well with the snow but in the spring time they stick out like a sore thumb making them easier to spot. I very surprised how calm they were around people and quite happy for me to crawl up to the them. This image is uncropped.
Male with female popping her head up
Despite the snow up cairngorm it can get very warm walking around the slopes
Black grouse are something special and can be difficult to locate in there normal woodland habitat but in the spring they come out to lek, a breeding ritual to attract a mate and by using a hide you can get some fantastic images however theres a great deal of work involved.
I entered the hide at 5pm and stayed until 8:30am the next day sleeping in the hide so that I was there well before the lek began and in no way disturb the birds.
It was mainly the black grouse I was after however many species can be viewed like curlew, brown hare, roe deer, oyster catcher and this golden plover. Many waders come into the CNP to breed in the spring providing a interesting backdrop.
Hold territory on the moorland
The most common member of the grouse family in the cairngorms, red grouse are widely distributed in the moorland habitats of the park.
The highlands are home to many species that are rare or not found anywhere else in the UK including the crested tit. Although they live in a range of habitats on the continent the Scottish subspecies is only found in scotch pine forests.
Scratchy enjoying a peanut
I don't tend name wildlife when I'm photographing but while watching numerous red squirrels it was easier to give them names to identify which ones were coming to the mound to feed, this one was very confident and we called him scratchy due to the marks on his side.
Common frog enjoying the sun
Now I know most people travel to the Cairngorms to focus on some of the more sexy species but I just love my little critters, amphibians being one of them and I was pleasantly surprised to find the cottages pond full of frogs! The start of the week it was frozen over and just a couple days later full of frogs!
Male waiting for some toad love
As well as the frogs I found some toads in a burn leading into a loch. Lots of thin males were waiting in the river for the females to return and pounce on them. The toads are so focused on breeding them are very easy to approach and with try and grab passing fish and even my camera thinking its a female toad and try to mate with it.
The clients on the second week
The second week was very enjoyable with the group and myself and Josh learned a great deal from the trip and looking forward to future trips.
BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter
Facebook: Jack Perks Photography