The West of Scotland and the Hebridean Islands has simply thousands of hidden places where you can walk and never see anyone or run over a headland and behold this powder white sand beach without a footprint on it. We have guests in but we decided to get the ferry over to Lochaline and do the walk again along the shore for a couple of miles into Ardtornish Estate which is another one of these hidden places that is grand with huge trees and lovely gardens and yet seems to want to stay a secret and is also another place without a tea room !! Eating and drinking places in the West of Scotland are rarer than a Blue Whale just like toilets!! But walking along the coast was so serene. We saw goosanders, common sandpipers, lots of swallows and a female otter with a cub playing on and around a small rock about 10m offshore. As they got bored they both swam over to a larger islet and searched around on that. I envy the baby otter in having such a free spirited life and safe place to grow up in. More human mums should bring their children to places like this.
It’s yet another sparkling but sparkling day today, coldish in the wind but very warm out of it. That’s the plus with an island holiday because you can go in any direction on the compass and find the sheltered side, just like you can on all islands. Ben More is sprinkled with snow but the beaches on Iona across the sea are shining white too. We have just had a few days with our 3 grandchildren in Glasgow and also got my vehicle serviced. Rufus is just over 2 now and on the crazy golf he got the drift quickly. You hit the ball and then put it in the hole. Only with his rules you pick it up after you’ve hit it and pop it in each hole !! I mean why not anyway, it’s so much quicker to get through the round ! We got another ‘expensive’ train for Charlies birthday to add to the train set which is set up here when they all come. For me it’s always a great drive to and from Glasgow over Rannoch Moor and down through Glen Coe. Sweeping through vast snow topped landscapes and open roads after the armageddon which is city life. Harriers have been passing the house when I care to look and summer is here with house martins, swallows and skylarks everywhere.
Lovely day here but I am just doing a short posting because the fact is that I do miss things off my regular postings entirely because I don’t want to just be a list of sightings each day but bring a more human touch also. This morning I reminded myself of the exciting half an hour last Thursday just past the grasspoint turnoff heading into glenmore, when we stopped for a cake and a drink with the off chance of harriers which we saw. Not too far away there was suddenly activity low to the ground which turned into 3 young sea eagles, the adult resident and adult golden eagles having a fight over some greylag geese which they seemed to want to catch. Well they didnt, even after a long chase of one greylag by a young sea eagle. I am also reminded of my otter girl Pam and her sister Joy who not only kiss me regularly but they are also very good at spotting otters and so if some female rushes toward you with lips pouted, give in because she could give you a good otter tip also.
Today is gorgeous and crystal clear but I have emails and stiuff to deal with. I have just had two really excellent days of wildlife Expeditions with otters both days, golden eagles changing over at the nest. I got the impression that yesterday the one flyng above and sweeping down to the nest simply dropped prey in there and changed over with the sitting bird, which then flew 50m away to eat its share. Male and female harriers are showing well with a male gliding close to the feeding golden eagle and late afternoon I found two short eared owls sitting close and then flying across the road to sit closer. Everyone loves to see an owl and so the day flying short eared owl is a treat and gives great pictures too. All of the great northern divers are now in summer plumage as are the slavonian grebes which after their ordinary winter plumage look as though their head is on fire. So, great days and more to come as I fly into a new season.
It was a very windy, wet, wild and pessimistic forecast but we had lots of excellent sightings. A sea eagle as myself and our guests stepped out for the trip, very good view of an otter at Craignure, greenshank, redshanks, rock doves, teal, shellducks, great northern divers, black guillemot, sea eagle at a nest with its mate perched below, another otter, two male hen harriers and two females, highlight probably the golden eagle arriving at a nest for a changeover and giving very interesting views gliding along the cliffs and then soaring high above, another resident golden eagle attacking an adult white tailed sea eagle. Kestrels and buzzards, red deer and I forgot the barnacle geese on Inch Kenneth the other day by the way and first basking shark this year off Calliach Point the same day. All finishing today with a sunny afternoon and evening.
We are certainly in a more up and down weather state than we have been for the last few months and it was wild and wet overnight but I am doing this posting this morning entirely to exult [good word to use reagarding Mull don’t you think] about the amazing tropical light that we have this morning. I am as all know bewitched by Mulls ever changing look each day and right now the glow over the landscape stretching toward the sea in front of the house is awesome. I can see Inch Kenneth across a very blue sea but in the distance Iona is lost in a sort of heat haze. Across to Gribbun Cliff and Benmore there is plenty of sun and huge puffy grey and white clouds rolling along the side of it all. It brings out the artist in me and a strong sense of guilt that I am not drawing and painting again but I am just too busy to get back to that these days but I am trying an easier option of playing a few chords on my guitar again but I could just stay with singing along with John Denver on my way to Cragnure for the trips !! We make a good duo.
Well it was south westerly winds yesterday and quite a bit of rain overnight after a lovely sunny day. But boy do we need the rain, as England needs the sun, and so it’s a pretty good swap. My guess is that this wind direction will prevail for a while and what will happen is that all these birds that have been waiting in Africa and south of us will head to their breeding grounds on Mull, because only the bravest have come on the easterly winds so far. Its a bit like humans !! Those that came in the last 3 months have had a great time here with the Islands looking as good as it gets. The rain has now cleared and out to sea from the house the light and colours are absolutely brilliant and the atmosphere crystal clear. A visually stunning day is in store for us and a landscape now dampened by the rain and so no further risk of the fires that have dotted the Highlands and Islands. Ideally we will go back the easterly winds again soon which are traditional through the end of April, May and June, but who knows ??
I was off to Tobermory for a PSV 12 week check today and it was cold and mizzly but back here at 11am it’s bright and sunny again. Proper rain is expected in the next few days we hope, as it is badly needed now. On Wednesday I would like to record a pretty good day and group on the trip but particularly give the two very young boys a mention as I have never had such keen and knowledgeable youngsters on my trip. They were a delight to take out and even though their younger sister of 3 years was quite a handful she was a beautiful handfull with a mass of curly blond hair but no interest in wildlife, much to her brothers dismay. They are all going to make fine adults and I do hope they continue their interest in wildlife because the future holds such opportunities in all things ‘ecological’. We know so little about most creatures and habitats on our planet and it is a fascination to me that so many people have literally no interest in seeing and learning more about our wild neighbours. Blue Whales are for instance the largest creatures ever to inhabit the planet and they are still here, yet how many people have seen one !!!
Well I have little to report on in the last few days except sunny days and happy times with our two youngest grandchildren Sonnie and Charlie. We had a really nice trip to see friends at Loch Buie and the children enjoyed all of Sue’s animals from dogs to chickens and ducks and we had a stroll on their big sandy beach and agreed that Sand Yachts would be great there when they are a little older. We are off to the swimming pool at Craignure soon and by the way I have had big news from the Scottish Campaign for National Parks in the form of a phone call and their new document ‘Unfinished Business’, regarding my undying passion to see Mull and the Hebridean Islands as one glorious National Park. Seems it’s on their hit list and this added to some encouraging noises from senior representatives all makes for uplifting reading. I have always been utterly convinced that these magical islands need the right protection and promotion and at last many are seeing as I do that the problem fo us all is that there is absolutely no one in charge of the bigger picture here. Hence why we stumble forward as we do.
Nothing short of ‘miraculous’ weather here and Thursday WOW !! as we collected our two youngest grandchildren Sonny and Charlie from Glagsow and drove over snowy peaked Rannoch Moor and down through Glencoe which looked as visual as it could possibly be under a cloudless blue sky and then mirror calm ferry sailings on Loch Linnhe and Lochaline to Mull. On todays Wildlife trip we had even calmer and warmer conditions and saw lots of porpoise, big view of adult sea eagles which have moved their nest because of the persistant easterly winds of late, a group of young sea eagles in Glenmore and two young golden eagles, one scrapping with hen harriers, an otter eventually falling asleep on a small islet, hen harriers, summer plumage slavonian grebes and great northern divers and again simply amazing scenes of Mull and snow capped Benmore. It seems our weather is going to last until at least next Thursday but we are all keeping our eye on our water levels !!