Well I am out of superlatives to describe this amazing weather that we are having but I know its going to continue to the end of this coming week at least. On yesterdays trip I had people from Germany out with me and speaking their usual perfect English. We saw 2 sea eagles within 5 minutes of the ferry. On Loch an Keal one of those perfect otter sightings as it eventually rolled around on the seaweed below us but not as perfect as a mother and two cubs later in the day repeatedly coming ashore and then each of them belly flopping into the sea from a large rock. Dead cute !! We had golden eagles soaring, sea eagle on eggs at a nest and for me the highlight was a female harrier going over us and chasing a male carrying some prey to obviously suggest that he is the man for her and then across the glen a young harrier. We also saw great northern divers, slavonian grebes and lots more. Regretably we did not see the Sperm Whale seen from the ferry near Oban this morning !!! By the way the Strontian fires that we encounted over there the other day were featured in the Saturday Times interestingly.
I am beyond superlatives to describe the weeks of glorious weathet here and the next week is also going to be dry and sunny. We changed our plans about looking for the Beevers at Knapdale yesterday and went across to the Ardnamurchan Peninsular instead. While we were in the ancient oakwoods there we could see huge fires racing along the skyline of the mountains and down the hillsides. In the end we were told that the firefighters gave up for the night as the wind took the fires inland and anyway they were struggling to find water to douse the fires as the landscape everywhere here is bone dry. Of course I feel sorry for the wildlife caught up in it all.
The most glorious day here with no wind at all and so we are off to the mainland to try and see the Beevers a couple of hours south of Oban at Knapdale and also have another look at the large archeological site at Kilmarten Glen. By the way a bird that seems to be really prospering here is the Rock Dove and a few have just gone over the house. It is of course the favourite prey of the Peregrine Falcon here though I don’t see a connection with their breeding success and the falcon. Anybody any ideas on this do email me please. I suppose it could be due to the great Spring and Summer we had last year and so lots of wild seeds about ?
Its a glorious day today and at without that cold wind. On yesterdays trip it was the same but cold and windy but they were a keen lot and so we had an otter very close and sea eagles soaring across the loch and eventually having got closer there were two sea eagles up with the resident golden eagle which we saw pretty well as it sliced along a ridge and landed but within ten minutes it was off again. Further on Loch na Keal we had great norhthern divers, guillemots, male and female goosander and mergansers of course. Having lunch by Gribbun cliffs I was excited to see the peregrines back again and rushing around the sky and soaring with each other as if they had just come together for the first time this spring. Later a sea eagle was at a nest and about to lay its eggs according to the RSPB chap there. Into Glenmore and an adult sea eagle was very low over us and the female goldie which I have known for about 29 years now was really high with her usual rather straight winged attitude like a sea eagle. Lots of red deer of course, whooper swans and eventually 5 minutes from the ferry point a really close view of the hypnotic male hen harrier, which had been much talked about on the trip.
Mull looked like Iceland in the sun today as I drove down Loch na Keal for the first aid and last section of my driver Certificate of Professional Competence at Craignure. People were stopping to look at the spectacle across a silver sea with all of the mountains dappled with snow from peak down to almost sea level. I never tire of Mull as all know and each day has me bewitched by the stunning visual effects that we are presented with. Getting up early I watched an adult sea eagle no more than 50m from the house alighting on a small hillock and shortly after a male hen harrier ghosted past. I believe it is sunny but still cold here all week and I have trips from Monday. I would dearly love for this very cold wind to drop a little for my guests because it is so much easier to be relaxed when out in the elements looking for things. I think the wind ‘rules’ the Hebridean Islands and has a say in all that we see and do here.
My big tip on Scotland. For heavens sake dont even think of touring it !! Why do people tour it anyway. When we recently stayed in a flat near the Vatican in a typical very old building in Rome and we wouldnt have dreamed of touring Italy !! I can only put the touring mentality down to not having a very enquiring mind or low levels of concentration to be blunt. Because if you can’t find enough to see and do on an Island that has 300 mniles of coastline ‘alone’ you should be worried I think. Here we are today with the most spectacular scene with snow now covering all of the mountains across the loch from here and great black sea cliffs stetching for about 10 miles breaking through the snow. Why go to Greenland when it’s here right now !! Tomorrow is sunny and you could enjoy a tropical looking Island like Iona and yet look back to Greeenland. Off the southern tip of Mull the white sand beaches and bluest sea will look like the Cooke Islands, though being honest it will be cold in there. Cancel that tour of Scotland, which no one actually enjoys at the end of the day.
Well we have had our first taste of real winter today with very strong bitterly cold winds and light snow flurries, though we have still not had any snow settling on the ground as yet this year except for the tops of the mountains which have snow. On a lighter note, for some reason we have found it impossible to get a smallish oak dining table for our guest quarters to match our bigger one at the other end of the conservatory. However we then discovered Reuben, whom I knew from my trips to Grasspoint as he and his girlfriend managed the estate there for the owners, but Reuben is also it seems a really good bespsoke joiner and our new solid oak table is only days away from completion. It should be the final touch for our guest quarters and will no doubt please the very fussy Visit Scotland quality assurance officers.
Like yesterday, today begins very sunny again with a stunningly clear sky and landscape. The sea is deep blue with tiny white horses dappling the surface. The Island of Inch Kenneth a mile offshore is pale gold with dark shadowy cliffs and our immediate landscape in front of the house is equally golden with patches of green and a dozen highland cows grazing away. Out to the left and across the sea the sun has risen over snow capped peaks and I know for certain on our sail to Oban today that it’s going to be warm out of the wind and pretty cold it. The sail over will be beautiful as it always is on such days with Duart Castle out on its headland backed by the snowy peaks of central Mull and Oban looking very colourful on such clear days. Though Oban needs to get its act together to hold its visitors. Its a staggering fact that the town has no significant wet weather venue at all, when it can actually rain here, though this year and last it is hard to believe it.
I hope you are all ignoring the snow forecasts for Scotland today because it may be dreadful on the east coast but over here it’s been sunny all day again. Last year the jet stream was hitting Britain hundreds of miles further south than normal from the south west and then coming back across the east coast of Britain as an easterly wind. Easterly winds always mean good weather here because out here on the West Coast of Scotland we are sheltered by the rest of Britain. It’s why everyone says we had the best ever weather here last year and so we are all praying for more easterly winds again because its not just good weather for us but it also may mean that the jet stream is changing its normal pattern. The problem then would be that a lot of people would want to move to Western Scotland for the sun !!! We do want more eco friendly people here to do all sorts of things but we couldnt take the whole of Watford !!
Another really beautiful day here but the morning was spent at another ‘Certificate of Professional Competence’ course at Craignure. However only here whilst working can you still enjoy the sort of wild experiences that we had from the window of the community centre where the course was held. Glancing out the window I saw a single Dolphin clear the water 100m away and then a whole group of Common Dolphins breaking the surface and occasionally leaping around 50m away. Iam not sure the teacher was pleased when I exclaimed ”Dolphins” in the middle of his bit about transporting hazardous substances !!! As I left Craignure above and coming low toward me were two adult sea eagles pursued by a number of gulls. If you like nature, why would you want to live and work anywhere else.