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Scotland Wildlife

Ospreys, gannets, dolphins, puffins and more

Bundespreissieger Berufsfotografie 2023

Bundespreissieger

Berufsfotografie 2023

NATUR / TIERWELT

Exploring Scotland's wildlife and birdlife through photography
A treat for any wildlife photographer

Scotland holds many treats in store and is home to an incredible variety of wildlife that can be found both on land and on the islands.

On this photography workshop we would like to explore the island a little and observe and capture ospreys, gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and dolphins. Grouse are also on the programme and we can also enjoy the beautiful heathland landscape in the Highlands.

I travelled to the island with my wife for a few weeks in 2022 and realised it was far too little. The more you spend on this beautiful island, the more you want to explore the whole island with its impressive cliffs, countless small islands and the unique colourful landscape and its wildlife. A life project 😀
The return journey to Austria was correspondingly difficult. The only thing I didn't miss at all after returning to Austria was the left-hand traffic 😊


The osprey is probably one of the most impressive birds of prey in Scotland. It is a migratory bird and mainly stays in Scotland from April to the end of August. We will be able to observe it hunting and have one or two hunting scenes in front of the lens. A photographic challenge that we will master as well as possible and I will pass on my falconry knowledge to the participants, as well as my photographic expertise in this field, so that the participants get the best pictures. We will spend 3 days with the ospreys in the morning.


WHY 3 days osprey?

 

On the first day, you usually struggle with the settings on the camera. Tracking, focus settings, etc. There is also the problem of water droplets, which occur when the bird of prey dives into the water and when it takes off from the water, to get under control photographically.
One day tends to be a little quieter with the ospreys, where there is simply less frequency, for whatever reason.
With 3 days, it is simply realistically possible for everyone involved to get great pictures of the osprey with almost certainty.

DATES for 2024 - maximum 4 people

17.-22. June 2024
 

15.-20. July 2024 
 

12.-17. August 2024

2 places available - early booking until 01 April

4 places available - early booking until 15 April

4 places available - early bookers until 01 May

Next date
17 - 22 June 2024
2 places still available

Short Info

Prices
€ 2.265,- each person in a double room
€ 2.390,- in a single room

Location
Kutno (Polen)

Date

From October until
End of February - 5 days each

Participant

Max. 3 persons

Departure

Munich or Vienna

Day 1: Ospreys and dolphins

We have to get up early because we have to be at the hides at around 04.00 am. That means getting up at 03.30 at the latest. There are a few snacks that we bought at the lecture, drinks and food to take with us, there is probably no more time.

Please note: Warm clothing is recommended. It can be very cold early in the morning, even in summer, and can even get close to zero degrees.

We spend our time here in perfectly positioned hides, where we have the water surface at eye level. This great vantage point produces sensational pictures with a fantastic background and, with a lot of luck, we will be able to observe the osprey hunting for trout several times.
The osprey usually circles above the surface of the water for a while to spy out the water for prey. Once it has spotted some, it switches to a shaking flight and then plunges into the water like a projectile to catch its prey. This usually happens very quickly and you only have a few eyeballs to capture the best scenes. We will prepare ourselves accordingly. The drops of water make it even more difficult to use the right focus and to track quickly without losing the subject from the viewfinder.
The magic is over by 9.00 am and we will have many breathtaking pictures on our memory cards. We drive back to the hotel and have a well-earned breakfast, preferably an English breakfast 😋


Day 1 afternoon:
After breakfast and recharging our batteries, we will head to the dolphins and have about an hour's drive ahead of us. We will arrive there around midday. It is a point in Scotland where we can observe the dolphins hunting for salmon at close quarters. Due to high and low tide, currents occur at this point in the sea where the salmon come very close to the shore and the dolphins chase after them. They surface again and again, play with each other and have a lot of fun. The dolphins can usually be seen here every day and it is the best place in Europe to see them up close without the need for a boat. But again, it's wildlife and there's no guarantee.

Photographing the dolphins is not easy as they are usually only visible on the surface for a very short time and we also have to contend with the water droplets.
I will work with you to develop a good concept and optimise the settings on the camera so that you get the best pictures.

We will spend the afternoon here until the sun disappears behind the horizon or hunger drives us to dinner.
After dinner there will be a short picture review, tips and tricks for the next day.

Day 2: Osprey and ptarmigan
 

We go back to the ospreys and have to get up early again. Just like the day before, we spend a few exciting hours
with the birds of prey and some of the participants are already much better at getting the pictures sharp on the sensor. We enjoy the time together and watch the great moments of the ospreys fighting with the trout.
This is not an easy game for the osprey, which is also fighting for survival. It dives far under the water during its attack flight
to catch the trout. A trout can easily weigh 1kg and the osprey itself 1.2-1.7kg. This pushes the eagle to its limits and it is always a struggle to lift the trout out of the water and fly it to the eyrie. We are there live on this adventure.

After lots of pictures and action, we return to the hotel at around 9.00 am and have a hearty breakfast. In the meantime, we recharge our batteries and take a short break.

 

Day 2 Afternoon:
 

We drive to the red grouse in an open area in the Highlands. They are very shy and we try to get as close as possible to them in the field. With my support and the experience of the local ranger, we should succeed. A wonderful wild heath landscape in the middle of the Highlands with the most beautiful colours at this time of year.
We stay here until late afternoon, just in time for dinner.
After dinner, we have a photo review and tips and tricks for the next day.

Day 3: Ospreys and dolphins


The last day with the ospreys. We have to get up very early again and can draw on the full range of photographic opportunities today. We've honed our technique over the first two days, sharpened our reflexes and are now well attuned to the osprey. Provided the weather co-operates and the osprey makes frequent appearances, we should have the best day today.
We use up all the storage space we have here and then enjoy our English breakfast from 9.00 am.
We recharge the batteries, back up our pictures on the hard drive and are ready for the dolphins.

Day 3 Afternoon:

We drive to the dolphins again and try our luck. Here, too, they don't appear in front of the lens every day. We have another whole afternoon to concentrate on the dolphins and use up all the memory we have.
There is a very good chance of seeing some at this busy spot.

Day 4: Northern gannets, common guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, puffins and much more

Time flies and our last day in Scotland begins. Today we are travelling to a very special place at the end of our tour - the gannets. Breakfast can be a little later today, we then have an hour's drive to the gannets and then really have the whole day to get involved with the many birds.

Thousands of birds breed on the cliffs, some of which are 100 metres high, in summer and there are also kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and a few puffins to be seen. It is very rare to see an albatross, but a lot of things must go together.
It really gets down to business here and the noise caused by these many birds is unheard of in Central Europe. 70% of the living birds in the whole of Europe breed in England on the mainland and on the numerous islands. So you can imagine what is going on here.
There are plenty of motifs both in flight and sitting on the ground and sometimes the birds are too close for long focal lengths.
 

CAUTION:
 

  • The area is not secured and entering is at your own risk! Please keep your distance from the cliffs!!

  • Dress warmly enough, there is always a strong wind blowing here and it can be very cool even during the day in summer!

  • Don't forget your headgear
     

We will spend the whole day here and return to the hotel in the late afternoon. However, we are also flexible, so if anyone would like to see the dolphins again in the evening, we are happy to do so. The group decides here.

Workshop content
 

  • Theoretical introduction to wildlife and bird of prey photography - autofocus, camera settings, tracking camera

  • Body language of birds of prey and its interpretation for the ospreys (extremely important, as this usually puts you one step ahead photographically)

  • Different perches and therefore different perspectives to choose from on the 3 days with the ospreys

  • Camera settings for the dolphins, here too it is important to set the focus correctly to find your way through the water droplets and get lots of sharp images

  • Travelling to the various locations

  • Support from the local rangers

  • Image analysis in the evening and discussion of possible improvements for the next day
     


Requirements and recommended equipment

 

 

  • Good basic knowledge of photography, especially of birds in flight

  • Own DSLR camera or system camera

  • Possibly a second body

  • Telephoto lens from 300-500mm for full-frame camera, telephoto lens 150-300mm for MFT camera and telephoto lens 200-400mm for APSC camera, 1.4 teleconverter if available

  • If possible, a second lens with a different focal length - ideally a lens for short distances 200-300mm (e.g. 70-200 or 120-300mm) and up to 500-600mm for long distances, possibly a 1.4 converter

  • Enough memory cards and full batteries, spare battery

  • Laptop and external hard drive to save the images and empty the memory cards for the next day

  • At least one gimbal

  • Tripod for mounting the gimbal

  • Bean bag filled or disc lens (takes up less space)

  • Card reader with cable to read out your images

  • Versatile clothing for both warm and cool days. Good and above all warm and waterproof footwear

  • Rain jacket

  • Rain cover for rucksack and camera

  • Torch (preferably a head torch)

  • A drinking bottle

  • Take small snacks with you or buy them on site

  • Gloves for cold days

  • Robust clothing - possibly hiking clothing that is not too colourfUL

  • A lot of passion for wildlife photography and flexibility 😊

Included in the price

  • Transfer from Inverness airport to the hotel and back to the airport on the last day

  • Daily transport from the hotel to the various venues and back

  • Hire of the respective hides

  • Costs of the respective rangers on site

  • Car hire and petrol costs

  • Course materials on bird of prey and wildlife photography

  • Nikon lenses and bodies can be tested


  • Wimberley gimbal or Gitzo gimbal can be tested
     

Not included in the participation fee is

  • Travel to the airport in Vienna or Munich (carpooling possible) 

  • Flight Vienna - Inverness - Vienna (or Munich - Inverness - Munich) - to be booked through a travel agency with which I co-operate

  • Accommodation with breakfast must be booked by yourself, also through a travel agency I am co-operating with (so there is a very high chance to get a shared accommodation)

  • Catering and something to drink for the day and evening