Where are those Shetland otters?


This is an extract from my dairy when I first moved to Shetland and set about learning about where the best sites were to follow Shetland otters and to understand the behaviour of Shetland otters.   I was interested to see the differences compared to the west coast of Scotland but first I need to explore the coast.

From the dairy:

The sky was black and heavy snow showers all morning. However  I was keen to get out having been stuck behind the computer and look for the otters I had been following. Low water was at 4:30pm, the wind was in the north making it perfect for an afternoon for searching the coast. In between the snow showers there were good sunny spells having the potential for some really nice light. The thirty minute walk in was welcomed as the wind had a chill to it and it was feeling cold. There is nothing like a stomp across the moorland to warm you up. Reaching the bay conditions were perfect, great light falling on the shore, wind in my face but one problem, no otters. A walk round the coast found lots of fresh spraint in all the spraint spots, showing the otters had been active in the morning. So the afternoon went on, great conditions, loads of signs of otters but no sightings. I had been thinking about this for a while and the evidence by spending a lot of time in the field were showing that otters seem to be more active in the morning. By the afternoon they’re back in their holts for the reminder of the day. As the weather was so cold with heavy snow showers it was most likely a very nice place to be, if your’re an otter. I could visualise a family of otters, the mother and her two cubs cuddled up together in a nice grass lined chamber within their holt, all cosy and warm, with stomachs full of fish from the mornings hunt. Ah well, it was nice to get some exercise and fresh air. I did see some snow buntings, a mountain hare that I see regularly in the same spot. Sometimes the hare is on the rocky shore, either eating the lichen on the rock, seaweed or the rock is warmer than the grass when the sunshine, like sheep who sit on the road at night. Plus all the normal coastal birds, gulls, waders and pipits.  Looking and following otters can be like that, just when you think its really coming together the otters give you a reality check.

Male otter rubs is fur to squeeze out the water on the seaweed c

It would be good to go back tomorrow morning but I leave to go to WildPhotos in the morning to see what the rest of nature photography world have been up to. Plus to meet up with some friends to discuss more ideas and future projects including a recent venture with 2 other photographers. Will be back home in a week’s time to carry on the otter quest.

Richard Shucksmith

Richard's favourite place is Shetland's coast, for it has a wide variety of habitats, species and dramatic seascapes. He studied marine biology and marine ecology which has allowed Richard to develop an understanding of this dynamic environment. His photography has enabled him to visually communicate this passion and understanding of Shetland's wonderful coastal life in particular Shetland otters. Richard’s work has been widely published in magazines, journals, books, newspapers, advertising agencies around the world and has won many awards for his work. In 2011 Richard was overall winner in British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA), as well as winning the animal behaviour category in 2014.

Instagram @RichardShuckSmith

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