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A stormy February with Shetland's otters and Up Helly Aa.

Running any trip means you spend a fair bit of time watching the weather forecasts. And so it was with a huge sense of foreboding that I headed up to Glasgow to fly to Shetland last February.

The forecast didn't pull any punches, it was predicting severe gales and virtually all UK airports being closed!!! The morning didn't start fair and I honestly thought we would be delayed for days. However, Shetland is used to this and incredibly we actually flew though after a couple of false starts. The landing at Sumburgh was an experience I don't fancy repeating, we landed side on!!

The weather for the following week, when Sue, Jeff and myself on the Nature's Images trip were planning to work with otters didn't improve much and the week was characterised by rain, rain, storms and incredibly strong winds. To say it was challenging is a complete understatement!

We spent the week with Richard Shucksmith and Brydon Thomason and I can't recommend them highly enough. Both were superb, crafts men in their field and a joy to work with as they guided us to some fantastic otter sightings.

The photography was difficult. The strong winds meant stalking was often problematic though the wind did help to disguise our camera's shutter noise. Often we would be sitting for hours at a time in driving rain hoping our camera covers and rain gear was all it had been promised when we bought it, and on the whole it did a good job.

We missed one day's otter work due to the ferry bringing Brydon being cancelled but perhaps the real bonus was being on the islands when Hillswick's Up Helly Aa's was happening. It was a night to remember and a brilliant experience, plus we were made so welcome by the local Shetlanders.

Hillswick's Up Helly Aa

Dog otter

Mum and cub with an octopuss

A short calm period!!!

On one afternoon we were lucky to be able to watch a pod of killer whales making their way up a Voe.