Red Squirrel and Crested Tit Bootcamp

SCOTLAND: Cairngorms National Park

Red Squirrel and Crested Tit Bootcamp

SCOTLAND: Cairngorms National Park

  • Exclusive use of dedicated photography hides in a variety of settings
  • Stunning location in Cairngorms National Park
  • House-party style format in our own mountain lodge
  • Evening presentations on wildlife photography techniques

There are few photographic subjects as engaging and charismatic as the red squirrel. Here in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, our range of purpose-built photography hides, allow our guests the opportunity to secure in-depth and wide-ranging images that are simply not possible without a significant investment of time.

Our three red squirrel feeding stations are all positioned to optimise light, viewpoint and background and provide a wide range of natural settings. Each morning you will have the opportunity to photograph red squirrels at a different location and there will be opportunities for running and jumping images as well as carefully engineered portrait shots. At this time of year the squirrels are adorned with their characteristic ear tufts and bushy tails.

Each squirrel session will last 4-5 hours before returning to the lodge for a warming lunch. Our afternoons will focus on one of the most recognisable of all Scotland’s pinewood specialists: the crested tit. These birds are found nowhere else in Britain and at our feeding stations can be photographed at close quarters on a variety of natural perches.

The timing of this short tour is to maximise the chance of extensive snow coverage and although the days are short and the weather fickle, the conditions at this time can be the most exciting of the year.


Bootcamp

We specialise in wildlife bootcamps; dedicated photo tours focusing exclusively on one or two species in the very best locations for lighting and background. Such an approach allows you to secure a portfolio that goes beyond what is possible from a fleeting visit to a known hotspot.

Details

Dates: 2-5 Mar 2018

Cost: £755

Deposit: £300

Single Supplement: £0

Group Size: 8

Guide: James Shooter with assistance from Peter Cairns

Principal Subjects: Red squirrel and crested tit. Incidental opportunities will arise for other woodland birds.

Cost Includes: Accommodation in single rooms; All meals; Transport during tour; 3 x red squirrel sessions and 2 x crested tit sessions (from both hides and in open setting); Tuition and presentations; Transfers to/from Kingussie train station

Cost Excludes: Travel to/from the tour; Travel/cancellation insurance; Alcoholic drinks (wine is served with dinner); Personal expenses

Guides

Peter Cairns

Peter Cairns

Pete has spent the last 17 years putting Northshots guests in front of stunning landscapes and enthralling wildlife. Behind the scenes he has been responsible for steering the company to being one of the most trusted and respected in the business. A passionate conservationist and communicator, he now spends much of his time photographing and filming in the Scottish Highlands for SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a multimedia initiative amplifying the case for a wilder Scotland. 

James Shooter

James Shooter

James is an established photographer and filmmaker with a passion for conservation communication. He has spent several years at Northshots developing an acute knowledge of Scottish wildlife and has led tours both in Scotland and overseas. A personable and engaging character, James will ensure you get the very best from your time spent with us. 


Essentials

ACCOMMODATION

Our accommodation is a lovely converted steading at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains. Ballintean Mountain Lodge is comfortable and full of character - specially designed for photographic house parties. We have a range of single, double and twin rooms, all with private facilities*. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home!

*Two of our single rooms share a bathroom. Rooms will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

TRAVEL

Cars can be safely parked at our lodge. Directions can be sent, as Satnav is not always reliable. Our postcode is PH21 1NX.

Train travel is generally reliable and we can offer free transfers to/from Kingussie station (7 miles).

Our nearest airport is Inverness (45 miles) and we can offer transfers but we charge £40 per transfer, which can be shared if other members of the group are travelling by air. We collect at 4pm on arrival day and drop off at 2.30pm on departure day.

MEALS

Meals are informal and will be taken within our accommodation. We offer home-cooked, wholesome food prepared with local ingredients. Breakfast, packed lunch, evening meal and home-baked shortbread provide the fuel to keep you going! We can almost always accommodate specific dietary requirements - just tell us on the booking form and we’ll make sure you get what you want. 

FITNESS 

Photographic sites are all accessed via a short walk so only a minimal level of fitness is required. You should however, be prepared to spend up to 5 hours sat in a hide or in the open remaining relatively still.

WEATHER 

This time of year provides the best opportunity for extended snow cover but the weather here is variable. You should expect some snow or rain and temperatures between +5c and -10c. At this time of year, sunrise is around 7.30am and sunset 5pm. 

LEARNING

This tour is primarily aimed at providing our guests with great photographic opportunities and to this end, most of our time will be spent in the field securing images. Our guides will however, provide help where it is needed and will offer guidance on fieldcraft, composition, lighting and photographic technique. For those guests looking for image critique and/ or post-processing assistance, this can be arranged subject to time available. For a more structured learning experience, please consider one of our Masterclass workshops. 


Giving Back

Northshots is a strong supporter of nature-based tourism contributing to rural economies to demonstrate the value of wild animals and wild places. We believe also that “taking” from the natural world obliges us to “give back” so we adapt our business practices to that end. We also contribute 3% of the revenue from this tour to Scottish charity Trees for Life which is working to restore Scotland’s Caledonian Pine Forest. 

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