It was a super sunny day here and so worth a drive and walk up the coast to look for more Jays which my Aga service friend John had seen on his way to the house. By the way John also had close views of the Pine Martens at Craignure after they had fledged there for the first time last year !! No Jays though, but at the top of our track two golden eagles were close and gliding along the ridge. Having parked up some buzzards were rushing around in a large wooded promontory sticking out into the sea at Laganulva and sure enough an adult sea eagle glid through them and up the coast. We bumped into another friend Roc Sandford who owns the Island of Gometra off the northern tip of Ulva and he showed me his petition concerning the possible huge fish farm here in Loch Tuath which could damage so many things here on The National Scenic Area. I hope to help him with this when my season starts proper and my green thinking guests will hopefully sign up too.
Today was cold but dry and so worth an explore down the loch. Sure enough up came a sea eagle from the shoreline to circle above us. Another 2,000ft up was its mate simply hanging in the wind to proclaim territory for a while before he stuck his head into the wind and flew across the sea to loch Ba. Flying close was also a kestrel and a sparrowhawk and buzzards are calling near the house now as are ravens. I know people get excited when they see the two eagles and so do I !! but on the way back from The Leonardo Exhibition in London I had my first really good view of a Jay here and the fact is that it is far rarer in the Hebrides than a Dolphin or an Eagle, so keep your eyes open and dont take them so much for granted down there.
I have to record what a simply stunning drive it was yesterday after flying into Glasgow from Stanstead and then the journey over Rannoch Moor and down though Glencoe. But how to describe it ??!! Both misty and then sunny huge mountains capped with snow and black craggy junks of rock protruding through the snow, with gold and green landscape rising up the slopes. Below this the sweeping view of miles and miles of snowy landscape, big black rocks and the odd twisted tree stood forlorne, often in the middle of small sunny and mirror calm lochans. It was almost deserted save for the odd car with people out with their cameras trying to capture the impossible. Sweeping down to sea level and the ferry across the top of Loch Linnhe and then the drive to Lochaline and the ferry home to arrive to a beautiful blue sky and sunshine was the icing on the cake. Cambridge and London are Ok but it’s not living but just existing by comparison.
Well just back from London seeing The Leonardo da Vinci Exhibition at the National Gallery. Leonardo is one of my inspiritions along with John Denver and Mull !! And don’t we need inspiring people and places like Mull today? Anyway, we were on the train from Cambridge to London very early morning to meet Sam who had set off much earlier to queue for tickets. On the train journey I observed hundreds of people with nothing to say to each other. What a waste of such a short time on earth when all of these people are spending 10 hours of every week of their lives going to and from London in complete silence? There are so many big things to talk about and put right in the world, yet people seem to have no big views or things to say. It isn’t our politicians that have got it wrong but the trillions of very ordinary people who live such politically correct, predictable low horizon lives.
Well it’s been a lovely day here with the merest hint of spring! Lots to do around the house and I have had some expert help in replacing some slates after the storms of a few weeks ago. Our friends at loch Buie had a lightng strike and had lots of things frazzled including their computer, telephones etc. However there isnt much bad news on Mull to be honest except that I feel I am often fighting on green/environmental issues that surely all should care more about. Mull is a living breathing beautiful entity in its own right, which everyone here owes a massive debt to when it has brought relative prosperity to all via tourism farming and fishing. The beautiful entity I speak of is possibly smiling at me now out in the west with a golden sky and whispy grey clouds filling the horizon. If it could speak I know it would love me for all I do, like I love it.
I’m looking forward to my season already having had too much time off I think. Some would envy my 4 or 5 month holidays but its not really work that I do anyway is it ??!! Anyway off for a jaunt up the west coast to look for crossbills and try my new christmas camera out. It’s been a glorious clear day here with the bluest sea and frothing white waves crashing on to the coast. Calgary beach looked stunning as always but it only had about 5 people on it. Then it was off into the pine forest where I had seen the exotic looking crossbills recently but there was no sign today, just the eerie sound of lots of wind damaged trees creaking against each other. Still it was a lovely drive and walk and atmospheric and beautifully vast as always.
It’s very poor weather here and such long spells without much needed sun. This is a very warm home with sheeps wool insulation and lots of glass ready for that sunny moment. The under floor heating comes into its own now but frankly we have rarely needed it over the years here because the high spec glass seems to almost manufacture and store warmth with the smallest amount of sun. In the cosyness here I watched the male sea eagle from Killiechronan gliding across the land in front of us, through the rain and just a couple of feet off the ground today and flashing his big white tail. He alighted and glanced across toward the house and l almost wanted to hide because I felt so guilty about his heroic and dangerous life. But I know I would rather be a sea eagle wild and free in the rain of The Hebrides than living in a flat in any UK city. Except perhaps the centre of ancient York, for a few weeks only !!
Despite not being out on trips just now [and I miss it a lot] there is always something to see or experience when you are slap bang in the moiddle of wild nature. As I turned our two vehicles around in the car park to give the rain a chance to wash both sides, I saw a hooded crow diving at the ground 25yards away and then sure enough up came a merlin like a bullet as it dashed along the front of the house putting up all of the birds on my feeders. A male Hen Harrier was out in the mizzle with some red deer and it alighted on the grassland a 100m away. It’s been poor for man and beast here this winter so far, with lots of mizzly rain and cold. Approaching February we should now be heading toward easterly winds and more sunshine and protection here on the West Coast. I remember when we first moved to Mull and were doing up Ulva House in Tobemory and all the tradesmen sitting on the edge of the terraced lawn having their lunch in warm sun and enjoying the panoramic view that we had there too.
What a desperate life it must be living in Watford, or anywhere else in suburbia, when you are missing scenes like this. As many of my friends know it is one of the best views in the world if not the best from here. A couple of hours ago it was a vast expanse of magenta sky filling the horizon above Iona and the south of the Island, with smokey grey clouds above. Now the sun is dropping and clearing the clouds as it is setting and we have a horizon full of an almost metallic golden sky. It will all finish in an hour with a red red sky. I think the foreground also adds to the picture, with black islands, headlands, sea cliffs off to the left and the gnarled remnants of silhouetted trees. I understand perfectly why people of the past were so seemingly romantic and yet haunted by what nature can do here.
We are in a nice ‘easy’ spell of weather but tomorrow has some rain I believe but then clearing up for the rest of the week. So yesterday was tempting to go and check on some of my eagle friends and straight off one of the Killiechronan sea eagles came gliding over putting up lots of birds. The Ben Taladh golden eagles are fine and displaying to each other until an immature sea eagle flew into their territory and got a telling off. A hen harrier was hunting at low tide on Loch Scridain but I saw no otters until Loch na Keal and which was clearly a youngster. The two golden eagles from Gribbun were dramatic and swooping around each other. The young female there seems insistant on attempting nesting in a very exposed and hopeless site again this year, when the more mature and wiser male knows best and should take her to have a look at his old site at the start of the Gribbun area.