Whenever I am asked what got me into wildlife photography in the first place, I have no trouble in answering. If ever there was a seminal moment, this was it. In June 2014, at the time of the (first?!!) Scottish Independence Referendum, I was on a cycle touring trip with my dad on the west coast of Scotland, mainly on the island of Mull, but also taking in the Ardnamurchan and Knoydart, and a few of the Inner Hebridean Islands.
We were on a daytrip out of Oban on the CalMac ferry to Tiree, the outermost Island of the Inner Hebrides. As we cycled round a bend into a small bay I spotted a pair of otters out on the rocks.
They were fishing and bringing the catch of velvet swimming crabs back on shore to devour. This was a real photo opportunity, but I was mindful of the fact that I mustn't disturb them.
My tactic was to creep slowly forwards when they were out in the water, then stop when they came ashore. That way I got quite close, and wedged between two rocks and tucked out of sight, I got some great shots of them.
Eventually they slipped away and disappeared. For me it remains one of the most amazing animal encounters I have had to this day. What a privilege to have been able to do this. It still gives me goosebumps when I recall it.
And on another note: This was nature in the raw. Proper wild. Otters are always full of character and energy, but just look at the spirit and intensity in these animals. The struggle for existence is writ large in their facial expressions. You simply don't get that in the captive situation, and I will show you what I mean in my next blog.