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Mountain Hare in the Cairngorms

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Mountain Hare in the Cairngorms

Lots of people ask me about where is the best place to photograph Mountain Hare, Ptarmigan and this and that. In fact, most days I receive two to three emails asking for ‘gen’ for one thing or another. Probably the thing I get asked for the most is where to go to photograph Capercaillie.

Most of the time I send a polite response with links to one of the “where to photograph” guides I put together in conjunction with Birdguides. Occasionally if they are someone I know well I give them a bit more help, but it is always a hard call.

When I first found the Mountain Hare site it took 3 or 4 weeks of walking different hills to identify the best place to photograph Mountain Hares. For the first two years was mine and seeing another person was really unusual. Then others slowly started to find out. In some cases by emailing my clients for details about where it was after seeing their images on the internet. To the point we are at now that it can be swamped with photographers. How should I feel? The main thing I feel is responsibility for damage to the Hares and their ecosystem. I never imagined 5 years ago when I was searching for somewhere to go that the site would now be occupied by 20 or more people wandering around, chasing Hares. Naivety on my part I guess.

I sometimes convince myself that the more people that there are interested in Mountain Hares the more people will do to help protect them. Probably wishful thinking. I do wonder sometimes what happened to just getting out there and looking for stuff. I get that not everyone wants to pay for a guide (that’s partly why I helped to put the where to photograph guides together). But, surely part of the fun is looking at a map and picking a new location? Where there will be no one else. The moment is yours.

 

3 Comments
  • Pauline Greenhalgh
    September 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    The thing that bothers me and I have been vociferous about it is the amount of hares being shot on grouse estates. Hopefully Marcus the spot you are referring to will offer protection to the hares just by virtue of the amount of folk present every day … it will be harder for gamekeepers – or at least allow them less time to kill – when the mountain is full of photographers … I know what you are saying about the experience, the cold, the desire to have a place pristine and all to oneself, to be alone with nature, but those days are more or less over – this little country of ours has too many people in it already and the number of photographers has quadrupled and more in the last 30 years. Creatures do adapt though to humans and will have to if they mean to survive. You are in the unenviable position of guiding for a living and that brings these sorts of problems – I think it is out of order for anyone to pay for a guide and then tell all those details to anyone who emails – in my case they would get referred back to the guide! If I lay my money down then so must the rest!! I’ve always thought that it is a good thing if folks go to the same area or the same bird (ie: capercaillie!) those animals in that area or that one critter gets used to people and copes – this leaves others less seasoned creatures in relative peace. If everyone was able and willing to go searching for ‘their own target’ then there would be huge disturbance and no quiet niches, I feel that would be a far worse scenario?

      • Pauline Greenhalgh
        September 23, 2017 at 10:59 pm

        Well good for him – thats really uplifting to hear as the opposite is so damn depressing …. to think that in my advancing years I stagger up the side of hills in gales and god knows what just to eventually sit near and look at one of these beautiful creatures and get so much enjoyment out of it, while others kill and sling their bodies onto the backs of trucks and go off home for their tea with dry eyes and a barren soul …

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