News and Writing from WildPhotographer Nick Wilcox-Brown

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Ptarmigan in Summer


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Ptarmigan in Summer

I always give myself a few days between journeying to the Cairngorms and guests arriving.

The June trip was no exception and this time I had some special business: collecting the rest of my new EOS RF lenses. What better opportunity to test their weight than a brief hike to the top of Cairngorm mountain...(the funicular railway is closed and a re-build in progress)?

After a hard climb, it was time to search for Dotterell (spoiler, none seen) and Ptarmigan. Even finding the latter was a struggle and after an hour in a very strong and cold Northerly wind, I was getting worried and slightly cold, until a familar call gave me a bearing.

As I turned around, there was a male, proudly sitting atop a rock, some 200m away. And then he flew off, down the slope in the direction of Loch Avon! Back to the drawing board.

Another 30 mins of searching boulder fields and I was in luck; what appeared to be the same male flew back into close proximity and started calling, then he repeated the 'I'm the king of the castle' trick - first picture, with the new Canon EOS CANON RF 100-500MM F/4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens, at 500mm.

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Spot me if you can!
Ptarmigan are beautiful camouflaged

More calling and it became obvious who was the object of his affections; a good-looking female Ptarmigan, who lead him a merry chase around the boulder field. I got a few good images, but it became obvious that the birds were aware of my presence, so after 5 mins or so, it was time to move on and leave them to their own devices.

A shame not to see Dotterell, but a privilege to see the Ptarmigan, a firm reminder that the Caringorms can be icy cold, even in June, and proof that the new RF zoom lens is light and beautifully sharp at both ends of the zoom range.

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Catch me…female, pursued by male at 300mm on the RF 100-500mm zoom.

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