Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Shetland otter family in late Novemeber

Had a very busy and enjoyable week working on three different Otter families last week. Each of these three are mother and two cubs. The sites are very busy during this time of year as most locations are very active with mothers and cubs who all most forage during the day and as the nights draw in, this means they must work all the harder. At the moment I am mixing my time in the field around eight different Otter families and have another half a dozen sites to visit over the next week or two. Here is a sequence of one of these families from last week. The sequence shows a typical behaviour in their daily routines of foraging, playing and grooming at a lye up on the grass before they rest.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Here's a selection of images all taken this week. A very , very challenging week of westerly gales and often driving rain but some fantastic otter activity, behaviour and encounters. We saw a total of 18 over the five day Otter photography one to one itinerary.

For more information on my Otter Photography one to one itineraries

Friday, 18 October 2013

Life is busy and it only seems to get more so- work and of course family commitments leave little room for anything else- but this I would not change- life is very good indeed! One thing however that never changes is my time with Otters here in Shetland. In fact this is what the majority of my day to day working life revolves around and so I am immensely fortunate to spend such special time studying otters.

What has changed is my 'at the desk' time, hence the lack of postings on my Otter blog. I think I said it in a previous post that now with the ever changing social media world, most of, if not all my postings are on Facebook and even with that I am not the most frequent 'poster', there is just no time....

Any how, in a bid to freshen up and revive me'old Otter blog I thought Id post an image or two from some of the last few months, starting with yesterdays encounter, a mother and her two young cubs in gorgeous golden autumn evening light......

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A crazy, crazy day but has to be said about as perfect as it could have been. Leading a one-to- one photography itinerary for Simon Hawkins just now, we did an early start to work on sunrise and found an Arctic Warbler whilst doing so and I found a Baltimore Oriole whilst on an extended lunch break! A mega rare American vagrant, only twenty  odd records in Britain! Later we met up and set out again but this time to work on Otters, Simons main target for the week. Spent a couple of hours with one of my regular mum and two cubs- the two squabbling over who gets the catch here....

Saturday, 7 September 2013

British Widlife Photography Awards- a 'highly commended'

I was delighted to be awarded a 'Highly commended' for my Otter awakening image in this years BWPA.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Fund raiser for the IOSF

Otters are not only a huge part of my life, they are a huge part of my working life and are therefore my main focus in the guiding and photography workshops I do in my company. I feel it very important to do something in return for otters on what ever level I can (or we at SN can), whether on a local or international level. We are corporate sponsors of the International Otter Survival Fund and are delighted to support the wonderful work they do for otters all over the world.

To help support this and their annual International Otter Awareness day in late May we ran a fund raising event to help raise money by doing a 'Sponsored Otter search'. Along with the help of fellow Otter addicts Gary Bell and Richard Shucksmith we set out individually to see how many otters we could see in a day- what better way to spend a day?!

In total we raised just over £800 and were delighted and overwhelmed by the response and support we received, read more about the day on my Shetland Nature blog:

Saturday, 13 July 2013

BBC's Countryfile TV appearance, tracking Otters in Shetland...

I was thrilled to be featured on BBC 1's Countryfile with presenter Ellie Harrison tracking Otters here in Shetland. Working with the Countryfile team was a really exciting experience and I was delighted and proud to have been part of the very popular episode on Shetland, and especially so to have been approached to work on my heart felt favourites. Better still was that even though against the odds, with just two hours set aside to shoot the Otter slot, I managed to score for them. Read more on our Shetland Nature Blog

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Dont you just love Lumsucker's....

Spring is often a time when Otters catch a lot of Lumpsuckers and particularly the much brighter and vividly coloured males (such as this one). This 'sibling squabbling' scene of brother and sister cubs tussling is a common sight when their mother lands prey and particularly when its a prized catch such as this Lumpsucker. This particular family caught many of this size and even some larger over a period of a few weeks. It was intriguing that many other sites you could see this same behaviour but these guys in particular- loved those Lumsuckers.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Perfect conditions today at one of my favourite sites. This mum and two have been very reliable to a very short stretch of coast recently. A good, open and fairly flat shoreline, with a decent sized bank to hide under at a safe distance from shoreline- perfect for photography. I was particularly excited by the gale force 9 winds with heavy rolling swell bringing superb breaking waves, which the family coped easily with which was quite fascinating to watch. Capturing them coming off the peaks of the waves and also when the waves broke on the shore offered exciting opportunities for something a little different....

Monday, 25 February 2013

Spent the afternoon with this mother and two cubs in beautiful late winter afternoon light. One of the families I work on that I do not get to visit very often, a very special but less regular one of the sites I use.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Life in a holt for a Shetland Otter family

This is by far the most exciting and unique Otter project I have ever been part of. By building an artificial holt kitted out with a live video stream we have been extremely fortunate to enjoy a truly privileged insight into a wild otter family in Shetland

Attached is a photo of the mother and cubs a few months ago from a more 'convenional' perspective.

Thursday, 24 January 2013



Its been a month or two since my last posting (I regularly update our facebook page ). This is not to say its been quiet for otter antics, in fact the very opposite. This is a very busy time of year for me in spite of the weather and season as it is the time when I do most of my monitoring of the sites I use throughout Shetland. Our core 'otter guiding season begins (which you can read about at, usually in late February and slows down into September. During these often wild winter months I monitor many sites throughout the islands as part of my own projects and also monitoring. It is also imperative I put in the time at all the sites I know so I am up to speed with which sites are active, where families are and to get an idea of how many animals are in each range. this is imperative as I need to be able to know first hand throughout the year where our best chances are.
It is also crucial that I dont only know where the best sites are but even more so to know when each site is usable and under which conditions. Knowing many sites allows me to be able to use only the sites that the wind direction allows on any given day. This intimate knowledge helps by offering a range of habitats and coastlines which can make a very big difference to photographers especially. Many sites can be great for activity but not conducive to photography. Relying on one honey-pot site introduces all kinds of limitations not to mention puts pressure on the otters them selves.