Red squirrels are without a doubt one of the most joyful animals to watch – when I take clients to visit my local squirrels they always depart with a huge smile on their faces, just as I do. I’m fortunate to have a beautiful, healthy colony of red squirrels close to where I live and I’ve spent many many hours in their company – laughing aloud sometimes at their antics and adorable noises. It really is good for the soul.
Now that I have a rental cabin – The Drey Inchberry – I’ve decided to offer a three day residential red squirrel workshop. This will include three nights accommodation in the cabin plus 3 mornings photographing red squirrels and, time-permitting a chance to photograph other subjects in the afternoons.
My cabin is open plan and sleeps two people – it is suitable for individuals, couples or friends. It’s well insulated and has good heating for the winter; has a mini kitchen with fridge/freezer and combi microwave plus a shower room and amazing views over the countryside. And, of course, wildlife a-plenty on the doorstep including squirrels, badgers, birds, rabbits and much more. It is situated halfway between Inverness and Beauly (5 miles from both), so a very central location, but also rural.
Because I’ve spent so much time with the local squirrels I’ve become something of an expert in their behaviours, relationships and habits. I’ll share this knowledge with participants as I believe it leads to a more rewarding experience and better images. I’m also able to help with camera settings and techniques to get the best from your camera.
We’ll use two different red squirrel locations – my local feeding station and a hide in the Cairngorm National Park.
My feeding station is in a clearing in a deciduous wood. Here you’ll see up to 8 or 9 different squirrels bouncing across the ground and leaping through the trees. Witness them eating, grooming, scratching and chasing one another. I’ll tell you about the strict hierarchy amongst them and hopefully introduce you to matriarch Patty – a wonderful squirrel who poses beautifully for the camera when she isn’t striking fear into the hearts of her companions.
This site is very natural and you’ll be able to photograph the squirrels in many different situations. There’s no permanent hide here (in agreement with the landowners) but I can provide a pop up. That said, sitting outside with the squirrels is a wonderful, intimate experience and provides opportunities that being hide-bound doesn’t.
The Cairngorm hide is very different but equally as good. I get very little snow where I live but down in the Cairngorms there’s a much higher chance of it. The hide has been built so that we are eye-level with the ground which is great. It’s in a large clearing in a pine wood and, again, there are lots of squirrels. Even without snow it’s very photogenic – in the summer the ground is carpeted in heather and there’s a reflection pool too. I’ve taken some of my favourite red squirrel images here.
Red squirrels are only active in the mornings throughout the winter, so in the afternoons we should have the opportunity to photograph a few other species. Some of the possibilities in the winter months are snow bunting, crested tits, red deer, reindeer, red kites. (Any entry fee for these activities is not included in the workshop price).
The price of the workshop includes 3 nights self-catering accommodation, the use of the two hides and transport to all photography locations. Snacks are provided too. If any afternoon activity has a fee then that is not included but there will be free options.
Accommodation is in my cabin, given that it is open plan this workshop suits solo photographers, friends who don’t mind sleeping in the same room (twin beds) or a couple (super-king bed).
I’d recommend a lens which has a focal length of 200mm +. Fast lenses are best, but many of my squirrel clients successfully use either the Sigma or Tamron 150-600mm lenses. Tripods are not essential but you may wish to use one at my site. The cairngorm hide is best used with beanbags.
Warm and waterproof clothing is essential as you’ll be out or exposed to the elements at almost all times. I can provide hand warmers if required.
There is a short walk to both squirrel hides, some of it over uneven ground, but we can take it at your pace.
Single person: £600
Two people: £800 (£400×2)
Accommodation can be booked for extra nights. A night’s stay costs £60 for 1 and £80 for 2. I can also add on other workshops (ie mountain hares if numbers improve). Info on rates available on The Drey website.
The workshop is available at any time when the cabin is free / I have no other workshops booked. Please check your dates and contact me via the enquiry form to discuss your requirements. Squirrels are amazing and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!