The last couple of months have been quite sensational here and today after light rain in the morning we have a really tropical evening with a flat sea and sunny windless evening. Another good trip today also with sea eagle sitting and then obligingly flying, falow deer all looking like Bambi, golden eagle soaring and flying above us with buzzards, another sea eagle, another golden eagle, no otters today but more short eared owls and male and female hen harriers with prey and then a very high golden eagle above the male harrier, bullfinches, red throated divers, black guillemot common sandpipers, wheatears, skylarks, dipper, snipe, lots of curlews, red deer, seals etc. Always of course good food on the trips !!
Another successful day on the trip with sea eagles sitting and flying, distant black and red throated divers, golden eagles and more golden eagles, just missed the otter there, sea eagles at the nest with chicks, otter asleep, short eared owls, female hen harrier with prey and then male sitting, more short eared owls, seals, red deer. rock doves, whitethroat and other smaller birds of course but the big ones delivered today !
It was 89 degrees on the decking today. Not that I was sunbathing, but doing jobs around the exterior including painting and putting decking oil down. Its like wind in the willows here lately with young rabbits hopping around and sheltering under the vehicles in the car park, woodpeckers and other birds at the feeders and an otter occasionally trotting up from the coast or going back again ! I am gutted about Sheffield United not getting promotion but it shouldnt have come down to our goalkeepr having to miss the vital penalty, but like everything else in life it was about being totally commited midway through and not just at the start of it all.
After last years awful weather May has been back to its beautiful and reliable self. Exciting trip again today with a male sea eagle leaping off his perch, seemingly with a plan !! He quickly swept low and into a field by the road with horses in it and scooped up what I am certain was a greylag goose and then back to the nest with it chased again by crows and buzzards. Similar exciting encounter with an otter across the loch as I was just about to explain how like an otter the jump dive of the shag was, when there 10ft from the shag was the otter and behind him a summer plumage great northern diver. We proceeded to get good sightings while we were hiding in the rocks. Later a short eared owl sitting close and spotted by my friends and helpers Sue and Noel up from Nottinghamshire. Then a male hen harrier passing prey to his female and a quarter mile down the road another male passing prey. Which as some know is one of Britains top ten wildlife moments.
This great weather which will continue until at least the middle of next week, when we will be worrying about water on the Island. Today we saw a number of porpoise in The Sound of Mull and in Loch na Keal. Big encounter with the Loch na Keal Sea eagle as he swept off his perch and onto the shore 100m away and then came back with seaweed round his talons and with other viewers trying to make it more than seaweed !! He did the same again 15 minutes later and so we went closer only to find an otter skulking on the shore. My feeling was that the eagle was after the otters prey. Anyway we then had good sightings of the otter. Another sea eagle sitting above the nest with two chicks below, short eared owls, hen harriers, golden eagle chick in a nest and teasing adults flying today.
An otter on the way out today, more porpoise on the trip, sea eagle sitting, golden eagle sitting and flying to feed their youngster. THEN !!! A big sighting of an adault sea eagle gliding past us chased by gulls and shellducks. The shellducks were obviously worried for their little black and white striped youngsters as they dived to escape the sea eagle now hovering and swooping at the water 50m away. Then it seemed the sea eagle changed its plans and grabbed one of the shellducks out of the air and flew to a seaweed point to eat it but then it flew dramatically across the bay alighted and plucked some more and then flew across the loch to his female who was looking at him from the nest area. Moving on !! We parked up for lunch and watched another golden eagle on another territory flying and sitting and as we got in the vehicle to drive on there below us we watched an otter and then followed it for some time. We saw another sea eagle and finally great views of a male hen harrier passing prey to his mate. One chap got a gteat photo of the pass. By the way I also bumped into Michael Aitchison the BBC’s wildlife photographer who was photographing millions of jellyfish for Springwatch.
On a slightly greyer day than yesterday I repeated the same journey and today everything was where it should have been. I have been convinced for some time that birds of prey in particular do not like really sunny days when they cannot see their prey so easily in the heavy shadows created by bright sun. It is also tougher to spot things on the sea on a breezy sunny day. So today we saw golden eagles sitting and flying, otter, great northern divers, sea eagle feeding two young, short eared owls and male and female hen harriers and always the more obvious things of course.
I have set myslef such high standards on the trips that I felt today was pretty disappointing. Yes people learned a lot as always but this very sunny weather makes our creatures relax too much and they act as if they are in The Seychelles, where they dont fly around or run around very much !! Yes we had a sea eagle sitting, fleeting porpoise, two seperate distant golden eagles and the tail of an otter. Yes great northern diver but everything was on the edge today and nothing was a really big view or occasion, I dont think.
It’s the most wonderful day again here with very blue sea, clear sky and no wind and so it’s off to Knapdale south of Oban to try and see a Beaver. Though they are pretty nocturnal I am an optimist of course and the run is lovely anyway. It’s also my chance to get a haircut and get some stuff in the big city !! ! The weather is good for a week here at least and so get up here, though my trips will probably be booked up.
I forgot the gang or actually ‘down’ of mountain hares that we encounterd yesterday on some rocks and tussocky ground by the coast of Loch na Keal. We were virtually in among them as they bounced around the rocks and grassland and when we left a couple of them were sillhouetted against the sea offering a romantic pose. Mountain hares go white in winter of course, have white legs and underparts and are pretty fast being the favourite prey of golden eagles here. On todays trip we had lots of sightings of short eared owls and hen harriers, an otter swimming and popping onshore now and then and we found him later looking furry and fast asleep. Golden eagles were tough but we got top sightings laterly up with sea eagles and buzzards. People from New Zealand on the trip today along with annual guests and we met up with my friend and thriller writer Gerald Seymour and his wife who also love Mull. He calls me the Ayatolla, which I like !!