Yes pretty wild winds here with little let up, though today was not bad for a trip to Oban. There were lots of seabirds out on an ocean of white horses today. They seem to love all of this drama for some reason. Maybe its because they can ””’FLY”” which has to add a lot to a life I suppose.
We are now heading to Christmas of course and the New Year which I hope all of you will enjoy to the fullest.
Happy times to everyone.
I had some very keen people out with me today, down from Stirling and mad keen to come on one of my trips. Well we kicked off with the two resident sea eagles on Loch na Keal coming from overhead with their bright yellow legs right out and into the raging surf to attack this shag. They both repeatedly had a go at it but eventually seemed to simply get bored and then flew onto a small area of shingle in between the waves. The sightings always seem to be dramatic in this area of Mull probably because of the Artic Russia winter setting. Very exciting views then and so it was off again and seeing rock doves, red deer, lots of geese, goosander, megansers of course, slavonian grebes, great northern divers, common seals, redshanks, ravens displaying, curlews, lots of buzzards, rock pipits, dipper but no otters today despite the conditions looking pretty good. Golden Eagles were also proving elusive until we saw a young male overhead on Loch Scridain. I was confident in clearing weather about adult golden eagles from then on, but no, and it wasnt until I took a detour to Loch Buie when we saw a male hen harrier and then the big dark shape of a low adult golden eagle gliding along a ridge on our left. A big view for me this one after being so challenged earlier.
I should have had a trip today as it was pretty good weather but there is no one around at this time, though I have a trip with some keen people on Friday and so I hope the weather is similar. Today then became a day for putting up the Christmas tree and doing lots of those sorts of festive things, which meant a lot of scrambling around in the loft and opening boxes to find things you had forgotten about that remind you of the past and so I spent more time in the loft than I needed to. How is it also that so many of the fairy lights don’t work each time but I must say that it does look very Christmas’y right now in the conservatory with twinkling lights and the fairy leaning over to look down below. I hate that word ‘conservatory’ which doesnt aptly describe all this glass at the front of the house because it’s not a conservatory !! I’m not that confident about my presents this year because I have all that I need materially I think, though Sam is creative and came up with some pre 1960’s Russian stamps last year as I am partial to that period as all the Russians now are. When Sam was younger, apart from fishing I started him off with wildlife stamps and he has the most colourful collection now. Anyone else out there want to send me some pre 1960 Russian stamps for Xmas might get a free wildlife trip !!
Mull feels and is empty during the winter months, yet its the emptiness and grandeur that makes it special at this time. There are a lot of people here who quite like the fact that there are no visitors around, but personally I think they bring a pulse of life and to be honest I thoroughly love the idea that visitors can come off season and get such top views of wildlife, awesome scenery and enjoy these beautiful islands in all their moods. In a nutshell I think it becomes a destination for a truly wild adventure. For some reason each morning lately I get up and see a sea eagle. Maybe they are going to nest in the trees below us, just back from the sea cliffs? Going out to get some new wiper blades and all the geese were up at Killiechronan and by now I know that this also means sea eagle again !! Lots of bats out an hour ago, woodcocks galore and a barn owl. In Costa Rica they do night time willdlife trips, as I coculd but I do like to see some football on TV in the evening or a good archeological or travel documentary !
Its miserable weather I guess but I don’t personally feel miserable !! After a few days in Glasgow seeing our daughter and spending time with our 3 grandsons, what’s to feel miserable about ? Just settling down to do this posting with a rain filled sky and landscape outside, the first thing I saw was a young Sea Eagle, no doubt searching for a territory and a mate as mum and dad had taught it. When I think about it my own parents who were very working class, they did the same with me and my brother !! I generally find it a crazy world when on mainland Britain these days compared with what feels idylic at times in these islands. Motorways are like arteries to hell with everyone living a life that is simply too fast and dangerous for what our species is capable of and all of it fuelled by politicians and big business to get us producing more and more. Living on an Island like Mull you seem able to step back, give your mind a service occasionally and actually feel like an individual again, just like an Eagle does.
Its been ‘wild’ overnight here alright and if this had been Watford it would have been flattened to the ground by now. Fortunately they build really solid houses here and ours stuck its face into the storm last night and said ‘come and get me’. The wind also blasted away for most of the day but I only see one or two slates came loose. Its pretty serene now again and in the evening light Mull is looking quite demure. There was a lot of activity on Loch na Keal this afternoon and I guess the storm blew lots of interesting things in for all the seabirds to eat and I don’t have the time right now but what’s the betting that some of these oceanic rarities have taken shelter around the islands coastline. I reckon its a good time for really keen birdwatchers to get out there and find them.
Well its December here and today was pretty wet and cold but it was still very jolly in Oban with lots of Islanders searching out Christmas presents. November was pretty good in fact after a good summer and we had two people on our winter wildlife package from Tampa Bay in Florida. On their trip we had otters, slavonian grebes, goosanders, mergansers, rock doves and lots of great northern divers again and sea eagles sitting out on the Killiechronan shingle beach on a lowish tide, which looks like Kamchatka or some other big, wild and remote place. They were both suddenly up and flying with gulls flying with them and all living this dramatic life and death and maybe exciting life. I could not find golden eagles in the misty weather but just as our guests left to head up to Plockton golden eagles were up on the hill behind the house and then a few buzzards were mobbing a sea eagle. Having a trot out later we saw the sea eagles again and a peregrine falcon overhead which soared away and came back and rushed along the landscape to land below us. Wild things in wild places stir my imagination here, always.
Back to our usual beautiful evening sky yesterday from a two day trip to Perth on the other side of the country, attending the Wild Scotland AGM. Frankly I was not impressed with the AGM nor Conference. The AGM was far too short and did not encourage questions and debate, the lunch was good but the Conference content was all too predictable. Am I the only one with some vision and ideas around here !! Here in The Highlands and Islands we have the product that the entire world is hungry for but our leaders have absolutely no idea how to protect it and promote it. The one highlight of the conference was the presentation from Jim Mayhew of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks, whom I had encouraged to be there. He highlighted that the SNP in their manifesto had given a comittment that much needed National Parks would be delivered and they have of course shelved that ! They can’t be trusted wtih the countries most valuable asset, which is not oil but our amazing natural wonders. It’s all about ‘caring’ again of course and most of my species just don’t. Or they would be banging on the door of government as I do, insisting they keep their promises.
We have been having extremely calm weather here and on Saturdays trip the whole environmental show was as good as it gets, with a relatively empty island, big sightings and every sort of scene and vista that Mother Nature could produce to try and steal the show.. Within 10 minutes we had a male otter trying to look like a wavelet on such a flat sea. Coming across the loch and putting hundreds of birds up came the two sea eagles at Killiechronan to land a few trees apart. It was a great scene all round. On the other side of the loch we found a golden eagle sitting on the skyline looking as if he had been watching too. Five minutes along the lochside and we saw an adult and young sea eagle sitting out on Scarisdale rocks and then we saw another adult coming with legs out to knock the youngster off its rock, which then flew up the coast to land and be pestered by gulls. We then found 3 otters on the same islet with the two sea eagles !! Ten minutes up the coast and mum and two more otter cubs peaking over a rock at us, and cute !! The two golden eagles on Gribbun were swooping around and diving down to clutch nest material and take it back to a new nest. Red deer stags and females today, sparrowhawk, buzzards kestrel, lots of great northern divers, slavonian grebes, snipe and a number of woodcocks and scenery to die for. Yesterday evening coming back from our otter group meeting I saw lots of mountain hares on the campsite grassland at Killiechronan. The Hebridean Islands are as good as it gets at this time of yea, if you get the weather and always ‘romantic’ of course but you have to be romantic by nature to appreciate that.
A few days ago we had some pretty wild weather but the following day it was off to Oban and a lovely sunny day for the sail and shopping for Christmas presents. Today was pretty fantastic with ‘serene’ not really enough of a word to illustrate Mull today. We had all the doors onto the decking wide open and it was like Spring. I was out with the hose, cleaning all the salt off the windows and woodwork blown up from the sea by the previous wild weather. It does help. The sea was the thing today because everywhere was as flat as it can be. I am hearing increasing stories of Pine Martens on Mull by the way and if any of our regular guests get a sighting whilst staying on the Island please do let me know. I worry greatly for what you might call top predators and virtually all of the stuff I hear about them is grossly exagerated and often not true. We humans have never really changed in this regard and have too big an opinion of ourselves..