OT­TERS IN SHET­LAND: THE TALE OF THE ‘DRAATSI’

Bird Watching (UK) - - Books - Richard Shuck­smith & Bry­don Thoma­son

The Shet­land Times, 2016, HBK, £28

I first met the co-au­thor of this won­der­ful book, na­ture guide Bry­don Thoma­son, on Shet­land in 2008, when he picked out a pod of Or­cas off the coast of Unst, and I will al­ways fondly re­mem­ber him show­ing me Ot­ters on his home is­land of Fet­lar. Shet­land is in his blood and Ot­ters are very much in his heart. And they are ob­vi­ously very much in the heart of the other au­thor, bi­ol­o­gist, pho­tog­ra­pher and Shet­land res­i­dent, Richard Shuck­smith. This book is pri­mar­ily about the pho­tos. There are hun­dreds, yet their qual­ity is in­cred­i­bly high, through­out. Just when you think you’ve seen the most charm­ing, en­light­en­ing or heart­warm­ing or even dis­turb­ing Ot­ter photo ever, an­other pops up to trump it. The book also in­cludes Richard and Bry­don’s per­sonal Ot­ter sto­ries, plus in­sights into the ecol­ogy and habits of th­ese charis­matic mam­mals, and in­ter­views with Ot­ter be­hav­iour ex­pert Hans Kruuk as well as old-time Shet­landers who used to trap Ot­ters to sup­ple­ment their ex­is­tence. It’s all fas­ci­nat­ing read­ing, but it is the bril­liant pho­tos that make this book such a plea­sure. Mike Wee­don

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