The lens alone weighs 2.86 kg

I wanted to take photos of Ptarmigan for a while.

I reckon it’d be easy on some of the stony mountains nearby, but I wanted one on Quinag, for several reasons. I have seen them on Spidean Coinich previously, creeping around in the stones, and about a dozen of them sat near us right on the summit whilst we ate our lunch one day in fog.

It’s a bit of a commitment for me from the outset; I put the 150-600 telephoto lens on the camera, and it weighs at least a ton, maybe more, and with a camera body attached, it is the length of my rucksack too. So I can’t take lovely landscapes too. Birds or nothing! Anything else would have to be on the phone.

We got to the car park, and there’s two people I know; we discuss plans briefly before we go separate ways. But I’ve now blurted out what I’m trying to do, so “failure” wouldn’t sit so easy. And hoping to shoot wildlife too! I should’ve known better and kept my mouth shut! No pressure.

Off we toddled; up Spidean, across the quartzite. When it got stonier, the two of us spread out a bit to maximise our chances of seeing some, and zig-zagged our way up the hillside. Probably the slowest I’ve ever climbed a hill, but I damaged a ligament in my knee last week, so this was just fine.

Lovely walk; the sun came out for us. The wind was cool, but not biting.

Eventually we got to the summit of Spidean: fabulous view, but no ptarmigan. Nothing. Just a couple of ravens laughing at us from their thermals (and I don’t mean underwear!)

Then another bloke arrived. And its someone else we know. Worse; he says he last saw ptarmigan on Sail Gharbh. So we’re on the wrong peak…… Of course birds can actually move around, so I’m not really worried by this! Well, maybe just a bit.

Walking along the ridge, we drop down to some pools and sit out of the wind for lunch. And I find that another reason my bag is so heavy is that we (I) had managed to double-up on some of the lunch, including doubling up on the extra emergency confectionary. So we had four times the biscuits we really needed. I know they’re not that heavy, but it adds up.

After lunch, the clouds are getting closer up the Minch, so we head off along to the bealach to turn for home.

I get to the bottom of the steep bit first, and to my absolute surprise, there’s a single ptarmigan sitting just off the path. Oh yes!

Clicking away, about 10 metres from it, it keeps a wary eye on me, but it doesn’t wander off or fly off. Very obliging!

Mission accomplished? “Did you get some good shots?” Carol says. Don’t know. I got 208 shots; I just hope I haven’t messed them up, I’ll find out later.


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