In August this year I had the opportunity to tick another subject off my list of subjects for 2020. I travelled in the pre-dawn to Carrbridge in the Scottish Highlands to a Red Squirrel Hide run by another local Photographer, Mark Hamblin, who manages some brilliant hides designed with the nature photographer in mind.
Turning off the main road onto the dirt track that led to the hide location I was given a warm wildlife welcome of hares, deer, a pair of squabbling herons, and even a solitary sparrowhawk flying point guard ahead of me as I drove the track.
I've been to a few wildlife hides over the last two years and had to squeeze and fold myself into something akin to a yoga pose just to get the camera pointing the right way. Mark’s Squirrel Hide was thankfully large enough to accommodate even my 6ft frame easily. Careful thought has been given to placement of this hide, sat as it was in the centre of a forest amphitheatre of green moss and purple heather. Dug out to a good height to allow the camera a ground level view and with padded seating and cushions provided as well as screw mounts and beanbags it has put others to shame. The squirrels too are quite used to people and didn’t even wait for me to set up my camera before they were helping themselves to the strategically placed nuts. That said, it’s still important to be as still as possible as squirrels are by nature quite skittish and sudden movements will startle them.
Mark thoughtfully provided a supply of nuts to encourage the little wonders to hang around and I got to work. Such amazing creatures to watch.
If Golden Eagles represent the wildness of Scotland's mountains and glens then surely Red Squirrels are the free spirits of the Pine Forest. Fidgeting, hopping, jumping - their near incessant motion makes for a lesson in good camera technique.
The hours passed by pretty much unnoticed such was my enjoyment watching these little creatures let alone try to get that perfect shot. It definitely helps to do some pre-planning of the images you wish to get and although I didn’t get all the shots I wanted I got some I’m pretty stoked with.
By 1pm the squirrels had drifted away into the forest but I had got what I came for.
Overall a wonderful experience and one I highly recommend.
You can find out more about Mark’s squirrel hide via his website here
Until next time 🤙🏼