For decades, Laurie Campbell would head to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland from his Berwickshire home, packing a tent and cameras into his Morris Minor and later his camper van as he set out to record the life of the elusive otter – a creature that had been driven to the remote coasts by pollution and habitat disturbance. In the early 1990s, however, the eminent photographer was surprised to spot the animals living around the Tweed river, near where he’s lived for most of his life.
Successful conservation efforts had led to a resurgence of the otter population and a delighted Campbell determined to create a photographic account of their lives on the various tributaries of his home river, and beyond. The result is a beautiful book, co-authored with wildlife journalist and writer Anna Levin. Ripples On The Water: Celebrating The Return of the Otter is filled with stunning pictures including the above photograph, which Campbell achieved while lying on the shore under camouflage netting.
The images are enhanced by Levin’s fascinating commentary, which includes informative natural history as well as observations gained while accompanying Laurie on has photography trips. The book also includes tips and advice for those keen to photograph or simply observe otters in their natural habitat, and ends with the exhortation to readers explore their local wetlands in their for signs of these elusive creatures. Modern life is busy, he acknowledges, “but then nature runs at a slower pace, so be patient,” he says. “The sight of a wild otter will be reward enough.”
Ripples On The Water: Celebrating The Return of the Otter by Laurie Campbell and Anna Levin is published by Bloomsbury Wildlife, £20 and is available now.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD …
Scotland’s international crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, opens in Stirling this Friday (September 17) and runs until Sunday, September 19, offering an exciting long weekend of events featuring big-name and debut authors. Full programme and ticket details at bloodyscotland.com
Tickets are on sale now for the Wigtown Book Festival, which runs from September 22 to October 4 and features a host of live events including big-name authors such as novelists Alexander McCall Smith and Val McDermid and philosopher AC Grayling, plus several children’s events.
At the town’s heart will be a new, free outdoor venue, The Gardens, with a large screen and informal seating which aims to be Wigtown’s answer to Wimbledon’s Murray Mound. Selected live audience events will also be streamed from Wigtown to audiences around the world.
Herald writer Rosemary Goring will deliver the annual Magnusson Lecture on “the Afterlife of Mary Queen of Scots” at the festival, which will also feature the awards ceremony for the Wigtown Poetry Prize and the announcement of the Anne Brown Essay Prize-winner.
Festival director Adrian Turpin said: “The prospect of hosting events in Wigtown again is hugely exciting.” (Due to the pandemic, last year’s event was entirely online.) “A lot of effort has gone into ensuring we can deliver a festival that has the same spirit as ever but in a COVID-safe environment,” he added.
For full programme and ticket information visit wigtownbookfestival.com