Muse of the Month May: Otter Besotted

05th May 2017
I am just back from a brief sojourn to the Shetland Isles. As a first timer to the islands I wasn't sure what to expect and certainly the four seasons weather in just one hour emphasised how unpredictable the conditions on an island can be.

We narrowly missed seeing the visiting pods of Orca in Lerwick harbour and the high winds and waves prevented us from getting to one of our main points of interest, the Gannet Colony on Noss but we did see our intended quarry..Otters!

To increase my chances of seeing and photographing the renown Shetland Otters I booked a trip out with local, celebrity, photographer, Richard Shucksmith. After a 4am start, trudging along the shore in the wind and rain we eventually came across a fresh water dipping pool and serious evidence of Otter.

Within a few minutes we saw our first Otter and were lucky enough to be in the right place as he came on shore with one enormous Lumpfish. This gave me the chance to actually fire off several fast frames and I could barely stop myself from laughing in glee!

My hope had been to photograph a fluffy Otter, one that had fluffed and buffed, warmed itself in the sun.Picking probably the darkest, wettest, morning of the week made this a real challenge. We did come across a second Otter who was so tired and desperate to go to sleep that he would not leave his rock until the very last moment, allowing the tide to creep up more than once to the tip of his nose and over the top of my boots!

I can assure you the Otter looked way more comfortable on his rock than I did, balanced precariously on one butt cheek and legs akimbo! Richard was the perfect guide, placing me and the tripod in exactly the right place and it was my fault for not toughing it out any longer that I missed my perfect Otter down the lens face shot!

A couple of days later whilst out hiking around the Western Isles, with no camera to hand, an Otter literally romped down the hill in front of us in wonderful light and sunshine.It was fluffy, dry and curious, it came within 15 metres reach. It bounced around a while trying to work out what we were by getting down wind of us before bounding away. In fact it was everything I had hoped to photograph but will now be one of those Kodak moments in my head rather than in my camera.

I can't recommend Shetland or time with Richard highly enough..I hope to go back another time now I sort of know my way around and I have an outstanding date with Gannets!

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