Its a dark grey landscape this evening with a brilliant red chunk of sky off Iona right now. As always these times look like something alien to me. It has been another very calm day here but not so dry as of late with a bit of rain late afternoon. Off for a walk around lunchtime and to get some oysters but I think the tide was a bit high and so no luck today but on entering the area lots of birds were up and flying which to me means sea eagle !! Sure enough there was a youngster gliding along and out to sea. I feel for the young eagles because winter is the time when they must find a territory or mate of their own, otherwise next year is a life of endless travel and getting chased off occupied territories. I meet a lot of artists like myself !!! and photographers these days but like the sea eagles there can only be so many survivors and its all about being good I feel. I met artist Derek Robertson at the conference the other day and he is good and so I have offered to mention his website which is http://www.derekrobertson.com.
The excellent weather continues here for todays trip with Mull looking blissfully calm and sunny. Lots of birds were on the sea today in the form of many great northern divers, slavonian grebes, mergansers, seals, golden eye’s and more. Have I ever seen the seas off mull so busy I wonder? Visually it remained stunning all day and we saw a golden eagle over Eorsa and one came over our heads below Ben Taladh. Two Sea eagles did the same near Pennyghael. We also had hen harrier, lots of kestrels and buzzards, stonechats are doing well and the usual fascinating view of an otter swimming and rolling around onshore. A good day then and super evening with a starry sky.
The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 conference was really good despite all other regional Councils in Scotland attending except Argyll and Bute Council. When one considers Mulls position as a top Ecotourism destination not a single Mull representative attended this very important meeting. However good old Caledonian MacBrayne were there with Joy and I and it was a super drive from Mull through the big beautiful lansdcape of Perthshire. We saw kites going and coming back and an empty open road through Glencoe and Rannoch Moor with sun and snow dappled peaks looking awesome. Some may have seen the new Bond film Skyfall where toward the end of the film they drive through the same area to have a rollocking good scrap at the end. We raced through similarly beacuse we had our green tourism inspection that afternoon and all went well as we retained our Gold Award, with no big scrap at the end !!
Well I am off to a conference in Perth to celebrate and get details from Scottish Natural Heritage about ‘The Year of Natural Scotland’ which is coming up for 2013. I have seen the guest list and its impressive and I know Perth is on the other side of the Highlands but as usual Iam disappointed not to see someone else from Our Community Trust, Community Council or our Islands tourism marketing group attending, when surely Mull should be present at an event that holds so much promise for an Ecotourism Island like this. I dont know about you but I am finding less and less people that actually ‘CARE’ about things these days. We are becoming a more selfish species I feel and not the bigger picture creatures that we really need to be if we are to have any future on this planet. It’s going to be good weather all week over here though, but Perth may be a bit wet like England has been lately. Maybe if we cared a little more and took global warming more seriously a lot of peoples homes would not be flooded right now.
I am always being asked about the best time of year to visit here and I genuinely cant say but eagles are definitely easier in winter. As we got up this morning two sea eagles flew below the house about 25m out. Setting off for a walk at Killiechronan another pair were gliding along the ridge behind the house and both alighted like they do, with talons out early like an aircraft undercarriage. 5 minutes down the road no one was about save for a lady looking through her scope and sure enough there was an otter wandering on top of a small islet. We saw her again later and she said what a wonderful place Mull was for wildlife and that she had also seen one of the sea eagles carrying a large branch off a tree up toward their nest area. It’s early alright but I have seen both eagle species working on their nests in December. I suppose the really interesting thing about winter is that very few things are on territory just now except the eagles and as other creatures are on the move you never quite know what might turn up in midwinter. Its what you might call a time for the unexpected to happen.
It’s a grey wintry evening here on Mull with big sleety showers warning you that they are coming and then romping off the sea. The peak of Benmore is white with snow or hailstones and may stay that way all winter from now on. After the softness and tameness of the south of England last week it now feels like I am living on the edge of the world and feel both small and inspired on days like this and very much a part of nature and not just passing through it like our visitors do. Early this morning a female hen harrier was gliding backward and forward in front of the house and small birds were unconcerned and enjoying the feeder as a great spotted woodpecker alighted and bossed them around. Yesterday as I was rushing off to get my annual PSV MOT done at Bowmans Garage in Craignure having only just arrived back on the Island. I had driven five minutes down the road when there by a small cottage a young otter was wandering around on the road and then went off into a hedge. It must have been half a mile from the sea and showed yet again that they are just as happy out of the water as in it.
Well we have just had a couple of weeks in the deep south. Visiting my mum and relatives first of all in Sheffield and eating at a couple of very good restaurants. On to Buckinghamshire to see Timmy’s new home which had very twee villages, attractive people and upmarket shops. We also saw red kites there. Timmy has a top of the range mini cooper and a good job in marketing with Tesco in London. On to our horse box conversion near Cambridge and more red kites, a jay sat on top of our sun umbrella in the garden and two green woodpeckers were courting each other. Good times were had looking at the wildlife photographer of the year exhibition in the Natural History Museum in London, Cortaulds was good for me and Joy saw the stage version of The Bodyguard where the songs were just as good as Whitney’s. We had good weather but dreadful rain coming around Loch Lomond from 6am onward this morning but the sea eagles were up here and greeting us in a gap in the weather. I love Mulls wildness and untamed nature but the townie stuff down there also felt very comfortable and easy.
Wonderful golden evening out over the sea right now and a sea eagle has flown from here right across the sea to The Island of Inch Knneth. It looked ‘poetic’ but maybe I just want cheering up as there is a gigantic fish farm development the size of 6 football pitches approved at a planning meeting I have just attended. People here want it because it might produce about 4 jobs. I say might !! We are just too narrow minded here when Mull is truly the land of opportunity in my opinion. All should now embrace the fantastic green product that we sit on top of. We have the ‘product’ that the rest of the world would give anything for but we just don’t have the visionaries and imaginative people to grasp the opportunities it offers and so this industrializing of The National Scenic Area will go ahead. A good trip anyway the other day with sea eagle sitting, top view of an otter, lots of porpoise, hen harrier, great northern divers, slavonian grebes etc but no golden eagles because the weather deteriorated. Seems I missed lots of Waxwings in Dervaig today in my haste to escape the meeting !
Not much happening here at the moment re trips out, though I have a big group on Saturday. Tuesday was pretty diabolical but in between its been rather good but cold, however this evening we had big wintry showers and so Winter appears to be here. In between the weather a male hen harrier flew below the house and he is always a glorious creature for me to see as he is the bird that started me birdwatching when we lived in Glyn Ceiriog, North Wales, on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains and where I worked as a graphic designer. Life was pretty good there in fact with a lovely house, sports car and in some ways had a more remote feeling than Mull, as these tiny Welsh villages and hamlets hide away in the folds of the hills. My diary may go a little quiet for a while as we find other things to see and do but I would really encourage more people to come in Winter, stay in a little cottage with a seaview, make sure it has a log fire and lots of books and ideally a TV to watch Sheffield United !!