By Kim Reader
This sneaky otter creeped up the beach to check out a dad-of-two who was crawling through the sand with his camera – creating a ‘once in a lifetime’ set of snaps.
In the photos, the curious critter can be seen rolling around in the sand on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, before slinking up the beach toward Mark Medcalf to find out if he had a new otter pal.
Photographer Mark, 55, said he could barely contain his excitement as the cute creature came so close that his camera went out of focus.
Mark, who lives with his wife Ellen, 55, in Kirkmichael, South Ayrshire, said: “We were visiting the Isle of Mull for a bit of a relaxing break and I was keeping a lookout for otters.
“We decided to pull up and stop when I spotted this otter in the sand. He was just doing his thing rolling around.
“I got down and started crawling through the sand towards him very slowly. I got about 25 yards away and decided to stop because I didn’t want to frighten him.
“But then he got up and just started coming towards me. I just started clicking away. It was amazing to watch.
“I was so excited, my heart was going and I was just hoping the camera was going to do my job for me.
“He came so close to me that my camera actually went out of focus at one point. It’s the first time in my life I’ve wished I had a smaller lens. It was the most incredible encounter.
“At one point he was only about two metres away. I never thought I would get so close to an otter, it was a real once in a lifetime experience.
“He just walked right past me and then went and sat on the rocks. He didn’t seem phased at all.
“It’s like he saw me crawling through the sand and might have thought I was an otter too so decided to come and check me out.
“I was probably smelling a bit like sea weed after all the time on the beach and in the water that day.
“I have been into photography for a while now and this is one of the best encounters I have ever had.
“I’ve had such a positive reaction to the photos from other photographers and friends, it’s great.
“It’s really unusual to get photos of otters in the sand. They’re usually in the water or on the rocks around all the seaweed so it is nice to have captured something different.
To capture the stunning images, which were taken two weeks ago, Mark used a Canon 1DX and a Canon 500mm lens.
Travel consultant Mark got into photography ten years ago and no runs wildlife photography tours around the Isle of Mull.
Mark enjoys showing people that you don’t have to go abroad to experience exotic wildlife as it is abundant in the UK.
Mark said: “I have always enjoyed taking photos and started out with a bit of landscape photography but I really got into it when I started doing wildlife photography ten years ago.
“I get such a kick out of it. When everything just comes together like it did with the otter, it is amazing.
“There are some days, you can spend hours and hours looking and you see nothing. I know that all too well running my tours.
“But then you go out and you’re not really looking and something incredible like that happens.
“I’ve never had any pets but I do love seeing animals out in nature and you pick things up on the camera that you can’t see with your eyes – all the different colours and textures.
“People think you have to go abroad to experience exotic wildlife but really we have got so much in Britain. I enjoy showing people what’s out there.”