Normally my trips to Mull begin late June and end with the Otter Photography Tours in November, but this year I was asked for a bespoke tour on the island at the end of May. Then Andy asked if I could assist with a group of clients the following week, and suddenly my diary was pretty much "Mull" from late May until late July. Not a bad thing, when I love the place so much.
The tour in May was unlike the July tours, in that the clients had arranged their own accommodation, and I would be just guiding them. They had requested a trip out with Mull Charters, so I duely booked us on to a trip, and then added another place when Lyndsey asked if she could tag along, whilst spending the week on Mull, sharing the accommodation I'd booked. This made the week a proper mix of work and play, as I'd have company during the evenings, and as we were based in Tobermory, we could enjoy the delights the resort has to offer.
And prior to my guiding days, we both went out looking for wildlife, and quickly located some otters.
Towards the end of the week, I had a couple of days free before Andy was due to arrive. I really wanted to find some hen harriers to photograph, but my usual luck was in, and the rains arrived. So I went looking for more otters, knowing any others I might find would assist during the coming weeks of guiding. Along the way though I couldn't refuse to stop and photograph a band of house martins, collecting mud from a roadside puddle.
And a few were given in the hours spent with the otter. The first sighting was just before 2pm, and I left at about 5pm, when I realised the rumblings from my empty stomach were getting loud enough to perhaps spook the otter! And the more observant reader will notice that there were actually two otters during that session.
Of course having such an amazing experience meant there was no prizes for guessing where Lyndsey and I headed to the following day. And in similar conditions!
The first week had flown by in the blink of an eye. Lyndsey was leaving and being replaced by her husband Andy, for my second week. We were to start the week aboard the Lady Jayne with Martin, Alex and Dan, for a fishing trip for the eagle food. I was initially looking forward to it, though the bad weather had continued and the sea was rough.
In hindsight the trip was a bad move. Both Lyndsey and I were feeling rather rough from a good night out on our last evening, and going out on a boat trip with a dodgy stomach in calm weather isn't wise... After attempting to photograph some of the seabirds flying past, and taking my eyes off of the horizon, my stomach rolled over, and for the first time ever in my life, I was physically sick aboard a boat. Martin was sympathetic, asking me to move elsewhere, further away from the wheelhouse to empty my stomach!
With just the Sunday to recover before Andy's bespoke tour began, I was relieved to see the sun had returned, and it actually felt like summer. Back to the same area where I had enjoyed success the previous week, we soon spotted an otter fishing, and got in position. Andy, had sent his professional camera body and 600mm lens away for a service prior to the tour, so was using just a 7D mark 2, and 100-400mm lens that day. I envied him when the otter came in, as without the bulk of what I was carrying, he was able to slither down the shore to a much closer position to watch the otter.