Correction !! I’m pretty sure that at sometime I mentioned taking Sonnie amd Charlie to Calabria this summer, but its actually Cantabria in Northern Spain !! I only realised the error when the wrong guidebook came in from Waterstones. I know I could create lots of jokes around this subject but as this is really a wildlife diary and not a travel site, I wont. I also don’t want to fuel my two boys now desperate attempts to unseat me as the alpha male and if I say more it will only aid their efforts.
A pretty good weather day here then and our wildlife has been making the most of it. The two resident golden eagles were up behind the house chasing somebody else off and doing their swooping up and down routine as a threat and territorial display. Unusually there was a lot of yelping which is rather like that of a small dog and pretty rare to hear actually. In fact the only time you really hear it is when a young golden eagle is calling from the nest in summer asking where mum and dad are. Has anyone ever heard the most unusual call from a peregrine falcon ? Which I have heard only once and that is the loud janggling of keys, like a jailer heading for the cells? Isn’t the really great thing about being close to nature, being able to learn all the time and find new things about creatures every day. Yesterday I made the comment that most creatures do what they do because it’s all they have to do to survive. For instance if two ravens had to go to a supermarket to shop they would do it but fortunately they don’t. It’s only we hapless humans that have to.
An eagle friend may have glimpsed me with my Christmas present camera today but its not one of those big lense things, so don’t think I have gone over to the other side. It’s still primarily a spotting day out !! On the trip today we started with an otter at Grasspoint, brief female hen harrier, kestrels etc. Two sea eagles sitting together in a tree which then flew along the shoreline and alighted to mate and make a racket. Then an Iceland gull with rock doves, another sea eagle sitting and its mate flying over to join it, again with much noise. Laterly a good view of a male hen harrier and lots of great northern divers and a black throated earlier. Plus poorish weather but The Island was still wildly and beautifully atomspheric !! Pity more humans don’t have those traits.
Another iffy day here which did not clear until about 4pm but the clearing looked magical, or was it just relief ?? I was at a meeting to select the right people to design our proposed new interpretive, parking and eco loo project and it was a pleasure with interesting and creative people, but it was also a bit like the old days in the office and the call of the wild whispering in my ear. I should miss my artistic background, like a musician not playing their violin but the Hebridean Islands natural creativity seems to envelop your life here anyway, as it dresses up each day and whispers, can you capture my beauty anyway David.
My very PC son Sam [since he got his PhD] has advised me not to be so eccentric in my diary postings if I want plenty of wildlife business. His older brother Tim has advised me similarly but he’s just trying to topple the alpha male, like the immature males do !! Anyway, another very wet day for a trip around Mull with people tendering for the proposed interpretive/new parking areas project and then the challenge of finding them an otter. So phew ! I found them one. This evening Mull is calm, serene and maybe angelic, with a lovely grey and silver sky. Is she at last over her temper after raging on like she has.
Thers no doubt at all that most of the rainfall in the British Isles in the last 12 months has been falling in The west of Scotland and it’s all about prolonged westerly winds instead of a fifty fifty with easterlies. There was a short window in it today with a shaft of golden sky off the south of Mull and I saw a sea eagle sitting on the sheltered side of some trees waiting patiently for it to clear. We humans once had such patience of course and we would have hunkered down making arrowheads or axes while the women prepared food or made articles of clothing and adornments until the rain stopped. Up the road another sea eagle was above us with a buzzard making the most of that break in the rain. Stepping back in time is pretty easy here because it’s much the same as it always has been in such a wild and spectacular place.
It’s like a scene out of ‘Doctor Zhivago’ today with a covering of snow across the entire landscape, except for the southern tip of Mull and Iona. I can easily imagine a Troika trotting past any minute with Lara in lots of fur and one of those great Russian hats that they have. However I don’t remember the sea in Doctor Zhivago and here it is wrapping itself around this snow covered scene and it’s a sort of metallic grey and mirror calm. In fact it’s a day to be somewhere like Calliach Point, looking for cetaceans, or maybe the western side of Coll looking for ‘bigger’ cetaceans !! As that area looks toward the Atlantic Frontier and the deep chasm that meanders its way from south to north in the Atlantic, as it does off California and the Pacific where we saw Blue Whales a couple of years ago. Possibly the ultimate wildlife experince and one that I will never forget.
Another mizzly day today for the trip with our son Sam’s friends and familly from Cambridge. But the weather doesnt really matter sometimes particularly with Otters, as they are an all weather creature and so we had good views of one coming repeatedly ashore with fish on Loch na Keal. We also saw two more on Loch Beag with some regular visitors to Mull whom I know very well. Earlier we had good views of two adult sea eagles and the female seemingly tendng the nest and then sitting out as the male in the background looked as if he was trying the nest out for size, before he leapt out and flew along some trees while she watched. We also saw another young sea eagle late in the day at Ardura. Red throated and great northern divers also, lots of buzzards and kestrels but the key to the wildlife door this year is that there seems to be lots of short tailed voles about and most of our birds of prey eat short tailed voles.
Taking Sonnie and Charlie home we had a pretty poor journey back with mist and rain but inevitably as we got to The Corran Ferry to go onward to the Lochaline to Mull ferry the mist cleared and virtually all the way to Mull’s National Scenic Area it was sunny and always of course spectacular like today has been again, with 25c on the decking area. The kids are wonderful and they love it here but I come back always from their world with these alien images of people in their masses snaking slowly along city roads in their cars and rushing along the streets to work, seemingly in their millions. It’s such a mire of humanity to me now, for within an hour I am transported to this vast scenic wonderland of mile upon mile of virtually empty roads and mountains rising into the clouds and snowy peaks in sunshine. Vast tracts of breathtaking Scotland are empty right up the West Coast and onto the Islands. We don’t want the millions like the cities have but there is stacks of room for people who want to escape to something so much better.
No wildlife trips here despite it being a short holidy in the country. Ive always wondered whether everyone thinks we are deep in snow in the winter because it isnt true. However we are having great fun with Sonny and Charlie here. Charlies very Scottish Gasgow accent is amusing to hear as he rolls his r’s for quite some time !! They have me out chopping logs on a regular basis and I am weary of singing I’m a lumberjack and I’m ok, I work all night and I work all day !! We collected some big and delicous oysters also which is another of their favourite pastimes. I’m to blame though as I taught them the song and the fun of searching for oysters. I did get them into filling small holes in our track with gravel but I seem to do most of work on that one. They are off home to Glasgow tomorrow and its like parting with really fun friends. How can anyone not adore interesting children.