During the summer of 2013 I visited the Shetland Isles as a photography trip. This was the first holiday which I had planned solely for wildlife photography.
Shetland was been a place I had wanted to visit for many years; the first BBC wildlife magazine I ever read had a picture of an Otter on the front - and subsequently inspired me to get into wildlife photography seriously - and Charlie Hamilton James, one of the first photographers I begun aspiring towards, is well known for his work on Otters and his countless hours of film and thousands of photos on the species greatly attracted me to the Shetlands.
I'll admit that I wanted to go to Shetland to photograph Otters. I will also admit that this was very naive of me. Otters are not easy to find and certainly not easy to photograph, so I was going to need a lot of luck to do so. I knew however that even if I didn't see any Otters during my trip that it would be worth it. The bird life on Shetland is incredible and I was bound to get some good photos and experiences out of the journey.
Now, I don't want to bore you with a lot of writing so I'll get straight down to the business of weather I found any Otters or not...
I spent 10 days on Shetland and spent each say searching and waiting for Otters. I saw my first on the second day, I was in the camper van with my mum, parked next to an inlet and I spotted and Otter pop its head out of the water and quickly dive back under. I was in complete shock and grabbed my camera and went to get into a better position. Unfortunately it didn't return but I was amazed to have seen one and know that they are definatley around.
I then saw one the next day, this time it was a Dog Otter - read my previous blog for more on this.
After that I spent the rest of the holiday searching for good locations, in between photographing Puffins, Terns, Razorbills, Guillemots, Seals, Dunlin and a whole lot of wildlife. I decided on the last day - after no great views or photographs of Otters - to go to the Isle of Noss. The Isle of Noss is a haven for birds, particularly Puffins and as I was soon to find out... Otters.
I went onto the island with my Mum and as soon as we got off the boat a lady said to us that they had seen a family of Otters on the island recently and if I was lucky, I may see them. So I led down by a kelp bed (up wind of course) and waited. My patience over the trip had paid off at this moment when a female Otter burst out of the sea onto land with a crab in her mouth. I was ecstatic and couldn't help but take as many photos as possible to treasure the moment. Soon after, two pups came out of the water and begun biting the female... I was watching a family of Otters... me, a 17 year old boy. I didn't think in a million years that this would happen but it did. It was the single best wildlife encounter of my life and I don't think I will ever forget the moment.
Here are two of the photos that I took on that day: