David\

30/10/2012

For a trip to Oban on Sunday it was a poor forecast but but it was pretty good and lovely coming home. Monday was a super day for trip and straight off we had two separate adult sea eagles. One on an islet, the other in a tall tree. Then a really good otter sighting onshore and offshore. Slavonian grebes [which look like they have had a good breeding season on Iceland] and a number of other duck species were in the area. Great Northern Divers in summer and winter plumage. 15 minutes later very good sighting of two golden eagles we had seen an hour before. Two more golden eagles above Balmeanach flying and landing. Onto Loch Scridain and a very close otter under a bit of pressure from other onlookers, but they can still be good at giving humans the slip as everyone watches the sea the otter trotts across or under the road and into a holt!! Scoter are not easy on Mull and we had a female and 3 young offshore beyond the otter. There were the usual array of other winter birds today but my diary does not allow me to list them all.

30/10/2012

For a trip to Oban on Sunday it was a poor forecast but but it was pretty good and lovely coming home. Monday was a super day for trip and straight off we had two separate adult sea eagles. One on an islet, the other in a tall tree. Then a really good otter sighting onshore and offshore. Slavonian grebes [which look like they have had a good breeding season on Iceland] and a number of other duck species were in the area. Great Northern Divers in summer and winter plumage. 15 minutes later very good sighting of two golden eagles we had seen an hour before. Two more golden eagles above Balmeanach flying and landing. Onto Loch Scridain and a very close otter under a bit of pressure from other onlookers, but they can still be good at giving humans the slip as everyone watches the sea the otter trotts across or under the road and into a holt!! Scoter are not easy on Mull and we had a female and 3 young offshore beyond the otter. There were the usual array of other winter birds today but my diary does not allow me to list them all.

27/10/2012

It seems I missed a chough on Loch na keal on Thursday under Gribbun Cliffs as I have been sent a picture of it and we have been for another look but could not find it. Needless to say that it is a good bird for Mull, as the last recorded were at Scoor in the South of Mull and they have given up there I think. The coincidence is that on Thursdays trip a chap on the trip asked whether we had choughs on Mull, in exactly the same area as we past it and I explained that they needed a certain habitat and that this wasnt quite right and he obviously accepted my ‘expert’ knwoledge and did not take it further. Heck of a coincidence isnt it if he mentioned it in exactly the spot where it was sighted that day, but he didnt pursue it and should have mentioned the bird with red legs and bill, that he had just seen !! We have rain here from this afternoon, a strange element for us as it has been so sunny this year. In my current miss the chough mood, if someone had said rain is coming I might have laughed at them !!

25/10/2012

Fabulous day, keen crowd with a very bright youngster and now a wonderful sunset out over the islands. On the trip we saw a sea eagle within minutes of the ferry. Onto Loch na Keal and I found an otter on a small islet which then worked its way down the coast and eventually onshore where I know they have a holt and sure enough it wandered from the shore with that cute otter gait and into its holt. Really good view and encounter for all having tracked it for a quarter of a mile and to then be very close. Slavonian grebes and mergansers there too. Across the loch we had common seals and fallow deer and always lots of kestrels this year. Then the big view above Balmeanach of a young golden eagle repeatedly attacking a female red deer, until it met up with one of its parents and behaved itself ! Eiders, redwings and fieldfares, golden plovers, redshank and greenshank, grey wagtail. Hen harriers in that area too and harriers also in Glenmore and finally a male hen harrier to cap the day.

25/10/2012

I have not updated my diary in the last few days primarily because I have been very busy but trips have continued and despite my view that in winter we do not have so many sightings of our summering birds, such as wheatear, whinchat, skylark, short eared owl etc., we have stil had a myriad of species. The most significant thing I have to report though is that this simply miraculous sunny windless weather has continued unabated and will be the same today again as I set off for todays trip. We have had a terrific year of sunny calm weather here.

21/10/2012

It was just the most sparkling clear day here today and I believe it is going to last all week. Callaich Point in the far north west of Mull seemed a good place to be, with its huge sea sprinkled by the islands of Tiree, Coll, Rhum, Eigg, Muck, Canna, Skye and the most westerly point on the British mainland The Ardnamurchan Peninsula, where I am told they have found a Viking burial longship !! Where? I dont exactly know yet but must find out. On the big rocky headland of Calleach there are simply dozens of ruins belonging to the past. Just sitting there and enjoying the expansive views of islands and sea was really lovely. I am on a trip tommorrow but brilliant sun is not the best sort of weather you know, though visitors to Mull love it. There has been little wind also this year and so the golden landscape and autumn colours are as good as they get. Add that Sheffield United won on Saturday and are now the only unbeaten team in the 1st division !!! Walsall better be wary of that on Tuesday night !!

19/10/2012

IT was another gloriously sunny day for the trip yesterday and rather like tonight we had a stupendous sunset. So yesterday we saw a number of porpoise in the Sound of Mull. On Loch na Keal after much patient searching, good long term views of an otter in the water and onshore. A young sea eagle was overhead there. On beyond Loch na Keal and another young sea eagle was up with lots of ravens and then one of the adult sea eagles there gave everyone top views overhead as did a young golden eagle at the same time. Opposite Pennyghael an excellent view of a female hen harrier and then into Glenmore and a striking young golden eagle crossing the glen with very bright white patches on the wings and the usual white tail with a black band. It was also being harassed by two hen harriers. I seem to remember that last years youngster on that territory was also unusually white in the wings and tail. Red deer stags with hinds in there too. Of course seals, curlews, shags, stonechats, rock pipits, kestrels, buzzards etc today and more.

16/10/2012

There were few for the trip today but all were keen. On another clear day and a flat sea we found a number of porpoise in the Sound of Mull. On Loch na Keal we had a female sea eagle sitting in a tree, which they do like. There were a number of slavonian grebes which winter here. To them this feels like The Canary Islands, after Iceland ! On the other side of the loch we had a great northern diver in summer plumage and others in winter plumage, plus a winter plumage red throated diver. Great to see my usual ‘summer’ peregrines on territory and sitting on top of their breeding cliffs. Onto the high point and the best view on the Island at the end of the National Scenic Area and an adult golden eagle above us being chased by kestrels. No sign of otters today, though it looked perfect but instead a really good long term encounter with a female hen harrier by Loch Beg and a young golden eagle coming from afar and then over our heads. Seals, red deer, redwings and stonechats also today.

15/10/2012

No trip today and other things to do but it was a beautiful still morning and if I bumped into anyone, they were saying ”I think this is the best day of the year, what do you think”. I agreed but sunny off season days like this always look fantastic. I think mainly because the light is clearer and instead of green hills and lochsides the whole landscape is in different shades of gold through to red and with another flat mercury looking sea it was absolutely perfect with a super sunset to end the day.

14/10/2012

We have always been a little fascinated by an area of Northeast Scotland called ‘East Neuk of Fife’ and so we have just spent a couple of days there staying at Anstruther and visiting Crail and St Andrews for the first time. The coast is similar to the East Coast of England and Staithes, Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay etc but I have to say a little more colourful, better kept and quite stylish, particularly St Andrews. However back from the coast it was very like North Yorkhsire and rather plain if I am honest. My tip would be yes stay somewhere like Crail in a colourful fishermens cottage clinging to the side of a twisting steep street but then come West and spend at least another week somewhere as varied as Mull !! I loved the brightly coloured houses and endless photo opportunites of model ships in windows, wedgewood blue doors and paintwork and red tiled roofs. The small coastal villages were as pretty as it could be. It was a lovely short stay and a pity that on the way there the area had the worst rainfall in Britain. Or was it fun fording so many large pools of water !!! Beautiful clear evening here now with dark landscape down to the sea, dark blue sea with distant black islands, various shades of blue clouds and bright golden sky peeking between them.