Tuesday morning started rather grey, but only in the weather sense, as by breakfast I'd already seen an otter fishing in a nearby bay, albeit at distance. With nothing planned for the day, I strolled down to the quayside, to see what I could photograph. Before I'd even reached the water, I could hear a wren belting out a song, and soon spotted the tuneful character, perched on the railings. He flew off when I approached, but after a short while, returned, to carry on where he'd left off.
Also sat on the railings, unimpressed with the weather were the resident common terns, who weren't bothered in the slightest about me, and granted some exceptionally close views.
When we'd first met Paula, she'd told us that we'd definitely see golden plovers on the moors behind their cottage, but the first trip up there, admittedly lacking in Timmy's presence (he puts them all up!), we'd failed to see any. So, with a few hours to kill, Ian and I headed up there. Paula was right, they were definitely there, but could I get close?
Out the car and on to the moors, keeping low and moving slowly, I tried to approach one stood watching me from the top of a mound. It moved, I stopped... then it moved towards me, so I stayed still. Calling out constantly to another nearby, the golden plover cautiously trotted across the gorse to me!
Not quite in full summer colours, but still with beautiful marked feathers, it was real treat, and returning back the cottage, the pics made a certain Kate rather envious. With them literally on our doorstep, meant we'd have another chance later...
Back down to the quay again, and the wren was still there amazingly. This time though, perching on more interesting objects, so making much better photographs. And the light had improved too.
Not wanting to rest on our laurels, Paula encouraged us out and about, and we soon found ourselves spread along a loch, looking for otters once more. As usual, Hawk-Eye himself (Ian) spotted one, and moments later, Kate and I were scuttling towards it, for a better view. I think she chose the more comfortable spot, nestled in the long grass above the lochside, whereas I found myself straddled a rusty old drainage pipe, beside the water!
The otter kept to the other side of the loch, but was in and out of the water, sliding under the seaweed, climbing over rocks and of course, crunching away on its catch. They're ace creatures to watch - amusing. They're also ones for blending into the surroundings, and keeping a track of it was tricky. After a good 15 mins of viewing, it headed down the loch, up on to the shore and behind some large boulders, presumably into its holt. Yet another magical Shetland experience.
By evening, the sun started to threaten to come out, and keen to quell her thirst for golden plover shots, Kate headed up to the moors again, with Ian and I in tow. Finding the plovers was easy - they'd not moved from where I'd seen them earlier, but getting decent light proved trickier. For a moment or two when we first found them, it was bright, and we got some great shots.
But we had to wait a good hour before the sunlight really broke through, to get some vibrance in the images.
The evening light was golden, appropriate really, for the birds being photographed, and the moors and lochs behind really added to the shots.
What could have been a "quiet" day on Shetland, ended as usual, anything but, with yet another otter sighting at dusk. I got some shots, but they're a bit dark for processing, especially given results later in the week...