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Shetland Trail Camera Joys

One of the many things I love about my trips to Shetland, is setting trail cams. I usually travel up a few days before I start guiding, so that gives me the chance to set a few cameras at some of my favourite spots and then I set others throughout the week. The long daylight hours mean lots of colour footage and, when it comes to otters, that daylight footage is especially special!

I have been travelling to Shetland for ten years now. In that time, I have been lucky enough to be shown some amazing places for otters and we are constantly looking out for areas that show evidence of otters to find new spots. A big thank you to Magnus , in particular, for helping me to search his land, using his great caterpillar track quad bike that allowed us to cover a lot of land!

Otters use their droppings (called spraint) to mark where they have been.... smelly messages for other otters passing by. These spraint points are regularly visited and are an excellent place for a camera, so searching for areas with evidence of spraint can maximise chances of capturing footage.

Other great spots are near fresh water as otters need to keep their coats in tip top condition. As Shetland otters use the sea to hunt and feed in, they need fresh water to clean their coats. They then use areas of grass like a towel, rolling and drying off. If you can find these fresh water pools and towelling areas, they can also be excellent places to capture action on the trail camera.

Magnus and I came to one of my favourite locations. It is on Magnus's land and is a location that otters have frequented all of his life and probably for centuries. It seems to be otter central. Full of spraint and tracks, I always film numerous individuals here, many of which call a lot when visiting, as if seeing who is about. In previous years, I have filmed meetings with males, females and even female, with large cubs interacting with the male there. Setting trail cams in this location rarely disappoints and I am always excited to see what we can capture.

A top spraint point showed a number of individuals...

The rocky area produced a great range of activity... it was very difficult to choose the ones to save. This is a selection of my favourites...

I also monitored a little pier area nearby. Not a huge amount of action, but some nice clips...

After discovering a lot of otter spraint at another site in 2019, Tim (a fellow guide and friend) set another cam on the inside of a small hut on a pier. The otters had been entering the hut and sprainting on some old rope in there, as well at many locations outside. I set a cam on the outside and got some lovely clips from this spot!

It was not only otters I captured. Whilst Tim and I were guiding, we had been watching an amazing family of shelduck. They have bred in a small bay, so we took a chance, and mounted the camera facing a small grassy knoll, where we could see quite a lot of dropping and flattened grass. Something was using this area to sit and we kept our fingers crossed that it was this lovely family!

We left the camera there for a few days. When we came to upload them, we could not believe it! Over 300 clips... just amazing. Here is a very small selection of the lovely moments we collected....

The very last clip was a bit of a bonus....

Hopefully, you can see from all of this footage, why I love it so much in Shetland. Magnus is carrying on with the monitoring for me. We had identified a couple of more interesting spots and I just ran out of time to set cams there. I only ever have very limited time as I am there just ten days. To gain as much information as you can from a site means using trail cameras over longer periods. We have some exciting plans for cameras around these locations in the future... so watch this space!


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