Thursday, 22 April 2010

Four days- 26 Otters

What a fantastic four days! Never really tend to post about taking Otter photography clients out but on this occasion I was encouraged to. The weather was at times horrendous but the company was great and the quarry even better! We were out for four days, visited eight sites and saw 26 Otters. This may sound impressive to some, and indeed it is, but the sites I visit throughout the Isles it is not uncommon to see up to or over double figures in a day.

It was indeed hard core though, 0600 starts meant it was up and about at 0530! Just what you need to do to catch the tides some times. Not all photographers encourage you to take your own camera and indeed I never set out to, but I never take much persuading when asked to do so!

We witnessed some awesome activity, some of which was even unusual for me to see, a bitch taking out a rabbit was enthralling to say the least. She caught it on her way back from bathing in a freshwater, peaty water pool.

A close encounter watching a crab being consumed was also rather special. As is so often the case, I was able to predict the next move by an otter, this time, bound for the shoe with a crab, ready for consumption. A rocky out crop covered in Bladder wrack seaweed was an almost certain 'haul out' for the otter to land on the shore, and thats exactly what happened. Having had the fore site, I was in position in plenty of time and with my 'Stealth Gear' on, I was all but invisible to an Otter.

Being low down, flat on the bladder wrack I was in a fantastic and rare opportunity to get 'full frame' eye level otter images. I even managed to very tentatively shuffle a couple of feet to the side so as I had a totally empty backdrop with the open mouthed otter in full gape, I have to say was rather pleased! By no means the best otter photo I have taken, but a hard to get composition.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Fantastic light, what a night!

Re visited one of my favourite sites yesterday evening, a real wilderness. An endless stretch of remote and flat coastline where you are extremely unlikely to meet another soul, only otters! We arrived at the site with only a few hours of day light remaining, but the evening spring low sun light was truly fantastic. On our way out to the site, myself and good friend David Gifford, were treated to several Mountain hare, mid way between their winter and summer coats.

From some distance up on the hill side I spotted a family foraging in the ebe. The low evening sunlight was perfect as was the wind direction so we set off for the shore. Nearing the waters edge we still had good time to read the situation and suss out our most suitable location, most importantly a spot where we would not be seen by the family.

There was a clear choice for me of where the family would probably choose to haul out, (who were now moving towards us) , all three of their low profiled bodies on the beautiful mirror calm surface, each opening up the still water with their own wakes.

We stealthily moved into position, in good time too. My prediction was spot on, minutes later they were closing in, incredibly though, they had been joined by a fourth animal, a dog probably even their father. His head and especially muzle being much broader than that of the mothers. He swam along closely, interacting with out any distress from the mother before splitting off but by then, with the family moving in close and hauling out exactly where I thought they would, the adrenalin was pumping too fast to see where he went!

The mother left the cubs (which I reckoned to be about 5 or 6 months old) on the shore only a few meters from us and went out to forage, leaving the cubs to groom one and other and play on the rocks in the stunning evening sun light. After a while the cubs swam out to her then all returned to the same rocky outcrop then moved on along the shore- a perfect encounter!

By the time we finished up back at the car, only three hours later we had seen 8 animals, it is little wonder this is one of my top sites! David labeled the evening 'his best ever otter encounter!!'

Monday, 5 April 2010

Stealth Gear

I was absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to review the latest range from Stealth Gear (I will be writing a full review of this on our website at ). Not only was I excited about getting new out door clothing but also how good a development it was for 'Shetland Nature' to be provided with a brand of clothing as reputable as Stealth Gear

With it being my first day out with the suit on, I was like a kid with a new football strip off for a kick about! The gear was far from disappointing and certainly lived up- managed to stalk myself into a fantastic encounter, down to about ten meters from a mother and cub. With my knee's and elbows and often behind, pressing into the salt water soaked seaweed, I would normally be sodden, but not a problem any more. This clothing has been designed by Wildlife photographers for Wildlife photographers- nothing has been overlooked! Anyway, as I say, I will be reviewing in full in the coming days on our site.