Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays

Scottish Tourist Board 5 Star Wildlife Experience
Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2018
Call: +44 (0)1595 760 333

Focus on Otters

– photography, ecology and fieldcraft

  • Species specific assignment focusing on Otters
  • Exclusivity of only 2 to 3 photographers to one guide
  • Expertise of two well known leaders
  • Five nights all inclusive accommodation

Wild Otters are undoubtedly one of the most sought after, challenging and ultimately rewarding subjects for wildlife photographers in Europe. Few creatures encapsulate both the ‘aw’ and the ‘wow’ factors like Otters do; from their stealthy hunting and predatory abilities to the intimate, adorable and playful antics of a mother and her cubs.

Otters are captivating loveable animals, full of character and interesting behaviour that lead fascinating lives and are highly evolved to exploit both the underwater and terrestrial environments. They are shy, but with knowledge of how they live, what signs to look for and how to approach them, they can be observed in their natural environment and their behaviour can be studied.

Although the status of Otters in Britain has changed considerably over recent years, with the unrivalled combination of the highest densities and the easily accessible remote shorelines they inhabit, Shetland is still the best place in Britain to see, study and photograph these marvellously evocative mammals.

The Workshop

This species specific assignment focuses solely on Shetlands Otters. In addition to capturing images of these elusive creatures we will be covering the following;

  • Otter field skills; finding and reading the signs
  • How to read and interpret otter behaviour
  • Hone and improve field craft, essential when working with such shy animals
  • Working within the otters environment; how to use the elements to maximise opportunities

The workshop will run for five days and consist of approximately six hours in the field each day. We generally find three hours either side of low tide to be the optimum time to maximise opportunities as otters are often at their most active. In the evenings we will delve further into the lives of otters with informal talks and presentations covering;

  • The coastlines they inhabit; what is important for an otter?
  • Otter ecology and behaviour
  • Family life; trials and tribulations for a mother and her cubs
  • Using Bushnell camera traps to track otters.

This is a unique and often can be an emotive experience to study, learn about and photograph Otters in Shetland. Otters seem to have an acute nervousness- their elusive behaviour is renowned. For this reason stringent consideration must be given to the following factors to maximize chances of encounters (and the quality of them) but most importantly to avoid disturbance to Otters such as; state of tide, knowing an active site, wind direction, planning your approach, maintaining a minimum profile and so on.

The geography and terrain must also be considered so as to suit a client’s ability. A reasonable level of fitness is essential as reaching some of the best locations and especially getting into the best photographic position will often mean clambering over uneven terrain and shorelines.

Led by esteemed Shetland Otter enthusiasts Brydon Thomason and Dr Richard Shucksmith this holiday provides an unrivalled opportunity to photograph Otters in Shetland.

The Itinerary

Day 1: Pick-ups and transfer to accommodation, the Shetland Nature Lodge. Afternoon/evening talk: Introduction to Shetland and its otters.

Days 2, 3, 4, 5: Gauge wind direction at first light and how it will affect intended sites to be used- out early morning in field working our regular shorelines and looking for Otters. Afternoon/evening talks.

Day6: Gauge wind direction at first light and how it will affect intended sites to be used- out early morning in field working our regular shorelines and looking for Otters. Question and answer session, discussions. Evening meal and a well-earned beer.

Day 7: Transfer to airport for departures.


The base for the workshop is The Shetland Nature Lodge.


Fitness Level Required
Fairly Challenging
Walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain
Price: £1,295
2018 Dates
Wednesday 7th February to 12th February, 2018 Available
Friday 9th March to Wednesday 14th March, 2018 Available
Saturday 19th May to Thursday 24th May, 2018 Available
Saturday 13th October to Thursday 18th October, 2018 Available

Contact Us to Book

Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.

Contact us for information and cost proposal for your own exclusive/tailor-made holiday. Email:

Additional holiday information:

  • Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
  • All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
  • All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
  • Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
  • No single supplement charged.
  • On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary.
  • Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.

View Terms & Conditions for booking