Ian says …….. Our three weeks were almost up – time flies when you’re having fun - just one day left to do the most important things. I think there was only me that hadn’t got a red Squirrel pic this holiday so it would be a short spell in the garden hide, then one last visit to several lochs to see if the Slavonian Grebes were back. A short drive up the A9 and into the Findhorn to photograph a couple of traps we were curious about and then hopefully to Loch Moy - somewhere we have never checked but have been curious about for a number of years but never had time to suss out. After a couple of hours in the hide and no success with the squirrels it was time to carry on. We reached he first loch and from the path scanned the water through the binocs – success - a single Slav had returned. Unfortunately we were looking directly in to the light and would not leave the well-used path that goes to the water’s edge and from where the birds are used to seeing people. The second loch now had two Slavs and here the path runs along one edge for probably 100 yards or more. It was a case of sitting very quiet and waiting. At one point a walking club (maybe 15 people ) passed by, chatting loudly amongst themselves, possibly not aware that they were walking past these beautiful birds. On such a large loch it is just luck if they swim close. After about an hour they hadn’t swam as close as they had previously but we had taken a few shots and had watched one of them swim from one end to the other and back and were more than happy so it was time to continue with mopping up operations. The upper Findhorn is such a spectacular area that it is almost impossible to drive up and back without taking some panoramic view shots so Pauline got busy again with her new phone camera! After photographing the traps we had almost run out of time and so our visit to loch Moy would have to wait and we now have a reason to visit the Cairngorms again next year! (As if we needed a reason!). It’s a difficult job but someone has to do it!!!
Pauline say's .... While we were at the grebes a couple of birders with scopes turned up and walked up and down the track looking out at intervals. We were sat quiet hoping no-one else would plop down beside us when suddenly these birders were up behind us, towering over us. One of them asked if we were photographing the slav grebes - we said yes we were trying to. He said we needed a licence to photograph these birds (I felt like saying then in that case I'm photographing that coot over there .... but decided not to be inflammatory) He said do you have a licence - we said no. There was a pause - we didn't move and he wondered what to say next .... He proceeded to warn us that we needed to be careful - he told us several times to be careful as the grebes nest in the reed bed at the bottom there .... We just kept quiet and waited for them to go which they did.
The licence is issued so that you can disturb schedule 1 birds at the nest - thats it - thats the top and bottom of it - disturb at the nest without fear of prosecution. Why would I want one seeing as I have no intention of doing any nest photography or being anywhere near a nest. In 60 years I have yet to be near a nest and not know it and so move away smartly. I can understand this birders fear but here we go again - big lens wearing camo and lurking - the assumption is made that I will get my pic irrespective of what it takes ... There are no laws of tresspass in Scotland: these particular lakes have a car park and a fishing club and public paths with walkers on as Ian has already said. There was even a professional dog walker present with 6 dogs all on leads! And finally what is the difference between us sitting down with our cameras on a tripod and him standing behind us with a scope on a tripod - other than the obvious at least we were closer to the floor and undergrowth?