my favourite photos from islay i think were sone shots of jellyfish taken from a paddleboard on lochindaal. the wildlife is incredible there. but my experience of it is that it is also quite elusive to the degree that if you go looking for it you don't seem to find it but when you have forgotten about it you stumble across something as a wonderful surprise.
the previous day to these photos i was paddleboarding along the edge of the coast and it felt like it was the sort of place you might see otters. i have seen them once before on eilean mor. and sure enough i spotted one and kept my distance while he dived for his tea. a friend iain happened to be visiting islay the same week so we met up that day and he was on a paddleboard so i went back to get him and we found the otter again and were treated to an absolute delight watching him catch fish and then eat it on a rock - it was one of the most amazing wildlife experiences i have ever had. such a treat!
the next day i thought i'd head back along the same bit of coastline with binoculars and a camera in case there was a repeat performance - i didn't have the camera with me on the previous paddle. well of course there wasn't a repeat - why should there be! the day before was pure gift and it feels kind of greedy going back now i retell it. but it's a very normal instinct too. we did the same with eagles. when jen and i were cycling along an eagle flew across the road directly overhead - it was incredible! it looked like a spot where eagles would hang out with lots of conifers and dead trees. so the same thing - i kept driving by, slowing down and looking for them again. we did see one in the distance in a tree one time but for the most part it was futile. the same thing - appreciate the gift and the surprise when it is given but don't think you can then bottle or repeat the experience!
back to the paddle board - whilst i didn't see otters that day i did notice quite a few jellyfish in the water and they looked magical. i wasn't sure how they would come out but tried manoeuvering the board with camera in hand without dropping it into the water and managed to take a few photos. they are gorgeous - what beautiful and mysterious creatures. and i guess that's a second reflection i have had. sometimes we're so focused on something that is not there in that moment that it's easy to miss what is right there in front of us and the wonderful gift it is. so pay attention to what is there rather than what isn't.
i'm not sure which photo i prefer - the sharper one or the more painterly one a bit more in the depths. it's all gift.