Conservation Manager Stuart Benn meets the winners of the RSPB Scotland Photographic Competition

One of the best bits of my job is getting to meet up with great people and so it was this week when I got a couple of days out with some of the winners of the RSPB Scotland Photographic Competition.

Day one was with Andy, Dominic and Eric and having won a photographic competition, they wanted the chance to take more pictures so I took them to one of my favourite spots near Loch Ness. Despite the cool wind and showers, the ring ouzels sang, the spotted flycatchers snapped passing midges, the swallows and martins zoomed by and common sandpipers skittered off. A really enjoyable day though I don’t think we ever quite managed to get the wildlife and photographers in precisely the same place at the same time to get that killer image.

Emma takes the controls

On day two, I met Lesley and her niece, Emma, at Loch Garten where we were given a privileged behind the scenes look round Operation Osprey by Jen Clark. This is a special year at Garten as it is 60 years since ospreys returned here as a breeding bird in the UK and, all being well, their 100th chick will fledge too so this really was a special treat. Emma even got to operate the nest cameras and there’s not many people get to do that!

And at the feeders, a red squirrel scurried about and posed for the cameras – one for next year’s comp perhaps?!

Red squirrel at Loch Garten (Lesley Garven)