Sunday, 28 February 2010
Visited a family I have not been to see for a couple of months now. On approaching their favoured stretch of coastline in the ,others range, I could hear the unmistakable and oh so familiar sound of the young dog cub's whistling squeak. There are few, if any sounds to be heard along the Shetland shores that kicks off my adrenalin levels like it! Most cubs, when awake and out of contact with their mother use this contact call, which can carry some distance, especially on a calm day. Even at well over a year old they use this call, which although adults are not often vocal becomes a much more subdued and quieter short yelp. The often whickering used confrontationally or even at play is more perhaps typical for adults
From a distance I scanned the shore and rocky outcrops and reefs exposed by the fallen tide. Sure enough, their he was, squeaking away, eagerly awaiting his mothers return- and no doubt hopefully with lunch!
By the time I got into position and had merged myself into the rocky shoreline, she had joined him. They groomed and played, typically of families do as if they had not seen one and other for weeks! After a few minutes she sneaked away to forage again, leaving him waiting, nervous as he watched for her return, not able to settle till she did.
She returned with a tiny sea scorpion, which he was not long in pollishing off. After more grooming and play they took to the watter, where they set to and played. Like many winter days, there was very little light and I was up to ISO 1600. But, the days are lengthening in a few months it will barely even get dark!!
Saturday, 27 February 2010
When editing through my images from the day with that family in the snow, I couldn't help want to add a couple more images.
Watching young cubs of this age at such close range for so long truly is a wonderful experience. Having a baby son of our own, who is only four months old, perhaps makes me relate on a new level as to how special and intimate the bond is between mother and cubs.
Otters at any age are captivating creatures, but at this young age, cubs are simply adorable!
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Like most naturalists or wildlife photographers who are passionate or infatuated (or some might say even obsessed) with a particular subject or species, you set your self continual goals and targets which I guess is why it never gets tedious. For me, getting decent images of otters in the snow or at least 'keepers' has been something of a struggle in recent years.
Whether it be down to other commitments, snow free shores along the main sites when every where else is white (a frequent occurrence along our wind and sea swept shores) or what ever else, sounding like 'fisherman's excuses now!'
I have enjoy regular truly magical encounters with otters in Shetland and have captured much of their secretive lives 'in the frame' but on the snow, no no! Often I have watched but just been too far away.
Any how, yesterday I nailed it, well got some keepers at least! Loosing two memory cards and a spare battery along with freezing and soaking much of my body as I lay amongst rock pools in the ebe for hours- (something you have to get used to if you want to photograph otters and not be seen) was a small price to pay as was the long journey to the site! After enjoying them in the snow I spent several hours following the family till both battery and memory card ran out, when I sneaked away while they fed off shore.
Visited several sites last week, on one particular day I saw 14 animals, some of which involved family groups of course. In total I saw 26 individuals on several different locations. There is nothing quite like mid-winter for watching otters, the daylight hours are very few but the activity is there for condensed. For keen photographers light is nearly always an issue in winter in shetland but for me studying otters is one of the main things that make winter so special.
Monday, 8 February 2010
witnessed a bit of 'a stand off' today, brother and sister, at least 14 months old and well away from their childhood teritory, were met by a full grown dog, perhaps even their father. The dog seemed to be quite interested in her but not so much the brother. It was fascinating laying barely meters from them amongst the rocks watching them causiously aproching, sniffing and every now and again alot of confrontation. Eventually the dog got bored and caried on his way.