From sunrise to sunset we are having clear blue and cloudless skies. In the slight wind it is not so warm but out of it is very warm !! The resident golden eagles here were up performing behind the house yesterday and turning over in the sky to show their talons to the buzzards and ravens that were annoying them. Eagles seem such noble and regal creatures, never harming the smaller birds that cause them such irritation. It’s as if they know that they are the king of the sky’s and their lesser subjects must be treated sympathetically and maybe to encourage them to try and be regal themselves, even if they aren’t !!
Well we have had a warm sunny and windless day throughout Mull and frankly I can feel that I had a bit too much sun today down at Loch Buie visiting friends. It looks like the same tomorrow and generally pretty good for the week ahead. I am always being asked about the best time of year to come here and see eagles particularly. Of course our two eagle species do not migrate and are on their territories all year round and so it is nothing to do with the time of year at all but absolutely to do with the weather of that particular day. The only way then that you might choose the best day is to probably come at the end of April or in May when the weather is historically at its best and you therefore increase your chances. Otherwise just wait for easterly winds and get up here pronto because it is almost always sunny on easterlies here and though the best day for wild watching in the UK is sunshine and showers, sunny all day is far better than rain all day, as you appreciate.
Easterly winds !!! And as I tell everyone on my trips this means good weather here and probably for some time. On todays trip we had lots of eagles doing the different things that eagles do, a female hen harrier diving at a buzzard, a kestrel joining in and another harrier over the sea, slavonian grebes, great northern divers, redshank, godwit, turnstone, goldeneye, teal, shellduck, razorbill, seals, red deer stags, lots of rock doves, geese, meadow and rock pipits, redwings, mistle and song thrushes and lots more that I have probably forgotten. Probably due to being dstracted by the scenery today and cold wind when out of the sun, though the soup was welcome and delicious as usual.
It was another brilliantly sunny but cold in the wind day and so we decided to drive up the North West coast and have a hike at Calgary Bay which looked tropical and with only two or three people walking along the beach. On the way there we had the closest encounter with a golden eagle out in the wild that I have ever had. I have been close when I was finding eagle nests many years ago and when very few were known abut here. This eagle came gliding low from the right and landed like a giant buzzard 25 yards ahead and sat there as we went past within maybe 10ft of it before it took off and glided out to sea and along the coast. This was a big sighting and shows how wild creatures see the islsnd as empty and theirs to enjoy at this time of year and do things they would rarely do in summer.
As good as it gets weather yesterday and today. On the wildlfie tour Monday apart from really sunny weather and an empty Mull !! we had a long list of sightings. White tailed sea eagles up with golden eagles and buzzards with the white tails of the sea eagles looking fluorescent above us. Redshanks and greenshanks, turnstones, bar tailed godwit, slavonian grebes, golden eye, shellducks stonechats, hen harrier, buzzards, kestrels, black guillemot, great northern divers, goosanders, mergansers, red deer, ravens, rock pipits, seals and two more resident golden eagles in the air with two young sea eagles and so much more today. Tonight, Tuesday, after what felt like a summers day, it is a sweep of dark blue sea and a black horizon of the south of Mull and Iona and above this a hazy red and orange layer of sky a mile high and covering the whole thing. This is then all topped by a very blue clear sky.
The most beautiful Spring like and deserted day here and so off to Loch Buie in the south and a walk of about 3 miles along the rugged coast via the raised beaches, which are flat geological platforms running along the entire coast, created as the Glaciers melted and the weight lifted off the coast and previously submerged pre glacier land rose up from the sea. The run to Loch Buie was very quiet and on the hike we saw no one else. This walk toward Carsaig is as varied as it gets with sea cliffs rising from the raised beaches, caves which must have been inhabited thousands of years ago, mixed woodland, lots of sea of course and sea cliffs and more of Mull 2 miles across the Loch. There are great pebble beaches and rock pools and a shoreline with driftwood galore and huge mountains, some topped with craggy rocky faces rising above you and misty and mysterious islands miles out to sea. The sheer bigness of land and sea there is very overwhelming and completely devoid of humans, except the few that live back inland near Loch Buie. These places feel like they have never seen a human. Wild, wild, wild, and beautiful virgin places.
A gorgeous sunny and windless day here. I question whether there is anywhere else in the world where you can enjoy it, in such a varied landscape as here in the Hebrides. There isn’t a creature on Mull that is not enjoying being out and about exploring The Island today. The mountains are dappled with snow. At sea level it’s a serene golden and red landscape with highland cattle wandering heads down and grazing away. A Female Hen Harrier spent some time quartering the land below the house this morning and I now hear about this asteroid passing close to earth this evening and where we might see it. So often here we get vast starlit skys but will it be so in an hours time I wonder. However I am ready to go !! And don’t you think the world has taken this asteroid hitting Russia today rather tamely ? I mean what if it had hit the Kremlin or the centre of St Petersburg ?
It was a dry but cold day today and we had lots of sightings on the trip. First off two sea eagles alighting on the top of a hill and then two more on Loch na Keal with one carrying nesting material. Redshanks, greenshanks, mergansers, goosanders, black guillemot, regular sightings of great black backed gulls catching and eating starfish, red deer, seals, otter and barnacle geese. We each collected some oysters!! Locked in my imagination though now was a distant sighting of a golden eagle doing his swooping up and down display along a black and distant mountain ridge. It eventually swooped down with legs out and landed sillhouetted against the sky on a large flat lump of rock and gave us views in the telescope. For me the close sightings are not as evocative and inspiring as an eagle doing his thing in the highest, wildest, remote places. It’s a vision of true freedom in an epic location, like a blue whale spouting out to sea in the Pacific. We humans are not creatures to be admired at all, but they are.
Anyone interested and I know many are! The web address below will take you to a touching video of the Island of Inch Kenneth which is a big feature in the views from our house. http://vimeo.com/14940958 Today and previous days in the last week the Island has looked serene, sitting on flat calm seas. All of the mountains are covered with snow from their peaks to half way down, but we have still not had any snow at all at sea level anywhere on the Island this winter. I also feel that today felt like a hint of Spring travelling down Loch na Keal and up to Tobermory to get some electrical parts. The wind is probably the real negative here as it can be stormy and strong but even if it’s raining, once you lose the wind it all becomes lovely here. Eagles have a dilemma of course as they like wind but not too strong because if it is calm every day they waste an awful lot of energy getting up there to travel around.
Up and down weather here but yesterday we saw two separate otters on Loch na Keal, an adult female sea eagle and a merlin, plus a Glaucous Gull in a field 2 minutes from the house. On todays trip we had an otter pretty quickly, sea eagle sitting, bar tailed godwit, 4 golden eagles together displayng and rushing around, slavonian grebes, a number of great northern divers and a female otter with two cubs, a young golden eagle pestered by ravens on the ground but eating something. It eventually flew right over us in Glenmore and later long term view of a female hen harrier, stonechats, and lots of other things along with an occasional shower and lots of sun and snow capped peaks.