Saturday, 23 August 2014

Otters in Shetland; ayoung family in early autumn

Here is a sequence of images from my most recent and one of my nicest sessions with an otter family this year. This was the first time Id spent with this particular family and I was really thrilled to see this mother, (Identifiable by scar on her nose and damage to left eye) who I thought must have a family by the sprainting activity Id noted on the couple of brief times Id passed through her range over the last couple of months. Going by her dates and when her last family separated and when I saw her with a dog otter (with notable amorous intentions!), I expected her to have cubs early this summer and sure enough, she does indeed. These two fabulous little fellows must be up around at least five months old now.

Its often difficult to keep track of all the many sites I work as my diary tends to be so booked up- (which is obviously fantastic of course). I need to use the sites that are most active in order to deliver for the guests I lead for. What tends to be the general pattern around otter sites or coastlines they inhabit is that while there is a family in the mothers range, they are active within it for the year or so they are together, (although patterns may vary throughout the seasons) then that site can and usually will be quiet for a time until the cycle repeats again. It is over such period I tend to avoid such a site as they can be so unpredictable (perhaps a daft thing to say as otters are rarely 'predictable'!)There is often little time to monitor the sites that have been quiet for a few months and now there are a few such sites I am starting to get around again. This is of course where the use of Bushnell cameras come in.... more on that later...

The light really was wonderful for this session. I was leading Italian photographer Mauritzio and partner Silvana. I refrain from setting out with my own gear when leading otter photography itineraries (and have done ever since I started) as my focus needs to be on the client however when someone insists and you've already had a few good days of the itinerary, you cant really say no! It would be plain rude! We were with them for over six hours, finding them just after mid day and not leaving them until approaching seven in the evening. One of the many fantastic aspects of working with otters on a Shetland shoreline is often the time that you can spend with an individual or a family. Watching them as they go about their routine without ever knowing you are there. Such a strange concept to think how utterly exhilarating and emotive such an experience can be to the observer, within a few metres of such a shy and fascinating animal and yet they are blissfully unaware of us or the joy they bring.

Its worth mentioning for anyone toying with the idea to get in touch for a visit to Shetland to do Otters with me that the diary for 2015 really is starting to fill in. Dates were booking up in any case but last weekends visit to the Birdfair in Rutland saw another few slots fill in.