Well…that was a nice start to March ! My publishers, Ness Publishing, let me know at the end of February that some great news was forthcoming about my book on the resident Bottlenose dolphins “On A Rising Tide” that was launched in late October 2015. Every two years, the Scottish Nature Photography Awards (who crowned me with their “Photographer of The Year” accolade in 2012) gather together the best literary offerings about nature and wildlife in and around Scotland and choose a winner. It seems that my book had made it onto the shortlist and then, hey-presto, it was announced soon after as the winning book. To say that I was gobsmacked is a bit of an understatement as the sheer quality of the photography in the other shortlisted book was epic in some cases (Laurie Campbell, Colin Prior, Richard Shucksmith, and so the list goes on…) and not just that, this was my first book – all photographed and written by yours truly, so I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
It is certainly a lovely way to get my 2017 dolphin season under way and it won’t do the second year of sales and the second print run of the book any harm at all – plus the recent publicity in the local and national press and media will hopefully bring some more visitors to North Kessock (and our wee Art & Craft Studio comprising of “Aurorabearealis” & “Charlie Phillips Images“) and the rest of the Black Isle. “Aurorabearealis” in the Main Street of North Kessock is now on the NorthCoast500 route as a business member and hopefully we will feel the economic benefit, not only of the books success, but also get a spin off (no pun intended) from the phenomenal rise in profile of the North Coast 500 route – a real draw for visitors worldwide.
At this time of year I’m really busy with my Bottlenose dolphin work for Whale and Dolphin Conservation – the marine charity that I am the Field Officer for up here in the Highlands of Scotland. The old saying “It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it” only conveys part of, what to most people would be a dream job – photographing dolphins for a living. Weather plays a great part in what you can and cannot do when you are either photographing or filming dolphins and this goes for land based work as well as from boats.
Recently the weather has been slightly “changeable” to say the least and I have had to be working out at sea as well as being on dry land as the sightings of the resident dolphins around Chanonry Point has slowed down a little. Luckily I get on very well with all of our local tour boat operators and as well as giving me regular sightings of dolphins when they out and about with passengers – they take pity on me sometimes and let me jump on-board to take a spin out to see what and who is about. On a recent trip with Gwyn Tanner of Dolphin Trips Avoch the weather was, shall we say – wet, but eventually the skies cleared a little and as we were passing Chanonry Point, I was able to get a snap of dolphin watchers at Chanonry with ID#866 “Zephyr” and her young son keeping the watchers amused.
A little later we encountered Zephyrs young son as he popped up beside us on the boat to check us out – thrilling for the passengers and the sea is a nice blue instead of slate grey as it had been about ten minutes earlier.
The next day I was out on a trip with Sarah Pern on-board the Ecoventures RIB from Cromarty and we had just been called up by Barbara Cheney from the Aberdeen University Lighthouse Field Station at Cromarty who was out on their research boat and told us about a group of dolphins heading our way from further down the coast – great news and sure enough before we knew it we were being “shot-gunned” with dolphins on either side of the boat – happy passengers and I was even happier as at least two of the WDC Adoption dolphins were right beside us – Moonlight, who was chomping a big fish…
And Rainbow who was coming to check us out after bow-riding with a ship entering the Cromarty Firth…
So at least the weather stayed reasonable for us out on the water, where waterproof outfits and camera spray covers are the norm – its only the middle of July…roll on the summer ! Grateful thanks as ever to Gwyn and Sarah for the trips out and to Barbara for the heads up 😉
The migratory salmon are almost running in big enough enough numbers to get the attention of the local dolphin population around the Inner Moray Firth near Inverness. Famous salmon rivers such as the Tay and Spey are recording good runs now so with a bit of luck I will soon be seeing and photographing prey manipulation by dolphins like young “Yoda” here, grappling with a nice fish as the salmon track their way to their home rivers – the Ness and Beauly.The migratory salmon are almost running in big enough enough numbers to get the attention of the local dolphin population around the Inner Moray Firth near Inverness. Famous salmon rivers such as the Tay and Spey are recording good runs now so with a bit of luck I will soon be seeing and photographing prey manipulation by dolphins like young “Yoda” here, grappling with a nice fish as the salmon track their way to their home rivers – the Ness and Beauly.