Bushnell Shetland Otter Joy! Part 1

You will have seen my recent blog posts from Shetland, as I guide with Shetland Wildlife as part of a special ‘Ultimate Shetland’ tour. This includes us deploying a number of Bushnell trail cameras around the islands as we travel around.

I got so much great footage this year, it is taking me a while to work through it all to process it, and pick the best bits to share!

I am going to do a couple of blog posts to cover all the different sites I set cameras at. Fellow guide, Tim Stenton, also borrowed some of my trail cameras, thus allowing us to set up cameras for longer periods of time, giving us a better chance of capturing good footage. I will be sharing some of the best bits in some blog posts over the coming weeks.

My first post will focus on a very special and pretty remote site, that was shared with me by good friends Magnus and Paula on the island. Magnus is a Shetlander and I feel very privileged to have been shown this site.

I have captured some of the best trail cam footage I have caught as of yet and what I love is that such footage creates lots of questions as it is filming what is rarely seen… the everyday life of a single site, 24-7.

I am still trying to decide how many individuals there are within these clips. They look very different when wet and when dry, but I am confident, there are at least two, possibly three.

Most of the footage is filmed over a single week, whilst I was on the island.  I am hoping to have some of my questions answered by some of the great otter experts out there, particularly those on Shetland who spend much of their working life following and photographing these wonderful mammals! Any help answering these questions would be welcome!

  • How many different individuals have been filmed here?
  • Would a male otter share his holt with a female and possibly last year’s cubs?
  • Why is there so much calling in these clips? What are they calling for and to whom?
  • Do both male and female collect grass for bedding in a holt?
  • Who might the fighting individuals be? Since there is a lot of calling, could it be last year’s young, being chased off as the female is ready to breed again?

This rather brief view of two otters fighting is interesting… could this be a youngster being chase off?

It is not only otters I captured! This wren family meant my trail cam triggered an awful lot…..!

I also had a camera on a nearby sprint area set down between some rocks….

I was very interested to see this clip showing an otter collecting grass… difficult to see if it is a male or female and no clips on the other camera.

Another downside of setting cameras in such areas… sheep!

As you can imagine, I was VERY excited to collect all this footage and the clients who shared the Ultimate Shetland week were delighted to be able to see what was happening at the sites we showed them.

I’ll get cracking on processing the rest of the footage to share soon.