Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Otters in Shetland- a mother with her three young cubs, late October

It often takes far me too long to sort through images after an exciting session with Otters and this is certainly one of those occasions. This was the day I spent with Italian photographer Mauro Mozzarelli who I was leading a one-to-one photography assignment with, specifically to work on young-cub families like these guys. Grey seal pups were also worked on. Late autumn- a mega time to visit Shetland.
  We had already had some fantastic otter photography and worked on several families and this was the third three-cub family I had taken him to. It was a superb morning despite the weather! Very over cast with drizzle or rain almost constant.
Mauro is one of those marvellous guests who quickly become good friends and as with any other assignment I take him on- he insists I also shoot my own images- something I don't do as a rule with guests working on Otters. So this mum and three were certainly a lot of fun for the four hours we spent with them. For over two hours they were taking it in turns to eat away at an enormous Lumsucker- possibly the biggest Ive ever seen an otter with, at least a third of the size of the mum.
She had already caught it when we picked them up on the shore- she must have had some strain landing it- it appeared similar size to cubs!

They'd chew away, often two or three of family at the time but then of course the cubs would set to for a good old play fight and ruff'n tumble- something I could watch forever. They are so boisterous and mischievous, not to mention utterly adorable! They have such energy.
It was actually time pressing for Mauro's departure that finally saw us actually leaving. They seemed so content to work around the vicinity of the comfort and safety of their holt and the massive meal of the Lumpsucker on the shore- which barely looked even half done when we sneaked away.

Like all the other families I am working on at the moment, I really hope for a settled winter so that the good breeding season otters appear to have had, pays off. More with these guys very soon.....

Friday, 7 November 2014

Introducing Doug Allan to Shetlands otters

What a privilege to take out one of the worlds best known and experienced wildlife cameramen to search for Shetlands otters. On top of a career spanning over 30 years making wildlife films and documentaries for the BBC (and many others) it is easy to see why Doug has had such a prolific and successful career as he is such a genuine, committed and considerate fellow who is a joy to spend time with.

Although time and tide was perhaps not in our favor we did well on our day out and spent time with one of the many families I study.

"Not the most promising of days when Brydon picked me up in Lerwick, the mist hanging on the hills, white horses on the water. But the man’s utterly enthusiastic, his passion for Shetland wildlife shines through.
As he we explored stretches of shoreline where he knew the otter territories, Brydon patiently explained about heeding the wind direction, staying off the skyline, talking softly, how to look for the tell tale signs of the otter signs and holts. Iv'e worked with many guides while filming, and I could see he had real sensitivity and all the patience. The afternoon slipped by effortlessly.

We spent 30 minutes watching a female with her two cubs full frame binocular view, diving, catching fish and taking them ashore to eat and playing on the shore. Simply magic.

You know the great thing about Brydon? No matter what happens, you know you’re going to have a good day when you’re with him".  
Doug Allan