Highland Diary

Revisiting the past




Revisiting the past – Since the advent of digital photography I suppose like many other wildlife photographers I am always looking to improve upon pictures shot in the past on film. The advantages that modern equipment offers both in quality and reach means that pretty much anything shot digitally today is going to be far superior to previous efforts on film. Rather oddly this past month the opportunities arose to photograph a number of birds in Scotland that I last encountered on a trip to Eastern Europe in 1975.

Red-backed Shrike is now all but lost as a breeding species in the UK however it still regularly migrates in small numbers along the east coast and through the northern isles.  Conversely the Great White Egret in recent years has expanded its breeding range westward in Europe and is no longer considered the great rarity in Britain that it once was. I was fortunate enough to catch up with both species on a recent trip to Aberdeenshire.  Closer to home a bird with unfamiliar song heard when I was doing some macro photography prompted me to return to my car for my binoculars. This led to an encounter with a fine male Bluethroat. They have bred in the Highlands in the past and on rare occasions migrant males hold territories, singing and displaying in the prospect of attracting a mate. The same may be said of a male Icterine Warbler that arrived recently. There are vast areas of suitable breeding habitat for both species in the Highlands. It is quite possible that numbers of these birds go unrecorded each year.