Late season wanderings, over the past month or so my photography has had a rather scattergun approach. Following on the heels of the heavy thrush migration that came through the Highlands in October, 2016 has proved to be a ‘Waxwing year’. Flocks numbering hundreds of birds have arrived in the north and east of Scotland. Despite the waxings relatively confiding nature I find it frustratingly difficult to get decent pictures of the feeding birds. As is their way the birds descend on mass to gorge on berries for a very brief time before returning to the uppermost branches of a nearby tree for the next twenty minutes or so to digest their crop load of berries. A much easier subject was a drake American Wigeon that has turned up with a flock of semi-habituated Eurasian Wigeon that regularly spend the winter grazing on the well-manicured banks of the Caledonian Canal where it enters the Moray Firth near to Inverness.
Closer to home several chance encounters with a couple of dog otters down on the coast have provided photo opportunities. Small prey items such as butterfish are usually eaten without coming ashore however larger prey such as the short-spined sea scorpion are sometimes taken to land to be eaten. A thorn-back ray proved to be a tricky mouthful. The otter avoided the spines by subduing the ray and feeding from the underside first.
For some years we have put out trail cameras in the garden and in the oakwood next to the house. Originally the cameras were to monitor the comings and goings of the local pine martens and over the last year a group of badgers. In recent weeks more nocturnal visitors have appeared on camera. In the garden we recorded a very skittish young fox and an American mink, which was probably more interested the wood mice that inhabit the stump than the peanuts on offer. Out in the wood the cast caught on camera also included red and roe deer and up to half a dozen wild boar. Over the last eighteen months or so I have been experimenting with a remote infrared trigger system to fire a DSLR/flash setup. Keeping battery power up on long cold winter nights with the equipment in ‘awake’ mode is proving to be a problem, as is frost and condensation forming on the surface of the infrared beams. A homemade pressure switch is a much more reliable trigger, however the one I designed for badgers and martens needs a bit of a rethink. It is just not up to half a dozen wild boar rooting about for peanuts.