No Golden Eagles yesterday as it was just too misty around the peaks but a number of sightings of sea eagles, red throated divers, eiders, common seals, kittiwakes, greenshanks, redshanks, ravens. Highlight was probably the two otter cubs on a big seaweed covered rock on Loch na Keal. They were scrapping and rolling about endlessly, or some would say playing and gave lovely views until they both set off along the coast. 15 minutes later as we were about to drive on I looked back 50m and it looked like mum or even the male on top of the same boulder and sniffing around and then it was off probably in search of the cubs.
Yes even more people from other countries on the trip again with a family from Luxembourg, another from Germany and four from the south of England who are staying in a rather hidden part of Mull on the southern coastline with its white shell beaches and no one on them. All were elated by the trip today and we saw a white tailed sea eagle in a tree within 10 minutes of Craignure, a youngster calling and the adults sitting and flying on Loch na Keal, a male otter coming ashore with a big conger eel, red throated divers, a golden eagle alighting above a red deer stag with his harem on the top of a mountain, adult sea eagle coming right over us, big views of a young golden eagle flying above us and calling and laterly super view of a male hen harrier crossing the road and dancing among the grassland looking for voles.
I suppose it was a reasonably typical day at the office again yesterday for me but the ending was quite dramatic. We just about had distant porpoise today and sitting sea eagles on Loch na Keal. Across the sea the wind was perfect and predictably the two golden eagles were going to show there at sometime and they did as we had a drink and scones. Ten minutes later I spotted the long tail of an otter as it jumped off a huge boulder by the shore and this turned into a mum and the two cubs from there which then gave the usual enchanting views and drew sighs from people watching. Wheatears, redpolls, twite, rock pipits, rock dove and things I usually forget were all seen today except hen harriers. The big one though began in Glenmore where the two golden eagles which had young there came out of the sky and attacked a young sea eagle. Off he went with the two adult eagles glorying in thier feat. From then on we had really spectacular views of the adults and thier youngster racing around the sky and then hovering repeatedly above the crags to regularly rush down the face of them twisting through the rocks to land and every now and again dive at and harass a red deer which I have just been told had a youngster with it. The whole show was dramatic and an exciting encounter with golden eagles in their inspiring elements doing all the things that they are so spectacular at doing.
Plenty of sightings on yesterdays trip and again virtually no wind. A few porpoise in the sound of mull and on Loch na Keal the adult male sea eagle from that territory sitting above the 2012 nest site which I would not normally have checked this year, but instinct and all that !! A little further on we found the female sitting also and gave a number of people there a thrill whith views through the telescope. Up the loch toward our house and a male otter lead us a merry dance for around an hour catching this and that and we had a short glimpse eventually onshore. Two golden eagles soaring overhead on the southern shore, common and grey seals, eiders, mergansers. 30 minutes later a big young sea eagle glided along a ridge and heading for dad that we had found sitting atop a tall pine. It was a very good and clear view in the scope.
Another stunning sunny day to start and now finish here this evening. In between it was so calm that it was worth a trip to Calliach Point in the north west. It’s a great place with huge jagged rocks and headland where I saw Mulls very first sea eagle arrive on the Island from Rhum years ago while I was fishing there. Straight off we saw a basking shark and after wandering up onto a high point we bumped into an artist friend of mine who also had seen it. We must have recorded about 4 in the end, along with fulmars, kittiwakes [rarer this year] gannets and on the way home at a higher point of North Mull we had two golden eagles above us and then going toward the little cottage that we first stayed in when we found Mull, called Burg Beag and where I had my closest encounter with a golden eagle a couple of years ago as it took off from a tree maybe 10ft from our car.
We have just returned from a long weekend with our 3 grandchildren in Glasgow. Well in fact Joy who is very spoilt by me !!! has had another 10 days further south in Buckinghamshire with our eldest son Tim and then onwards to her friend Margaret’s in Darrington near Pontefract and so we met up in Galsgow and met Lucy with the children. We also have a nice Premiere Inn near Cambuslang where we take Sonny gokarting and which seems to have the best Premiere Inn food we have encountered so far. The run home through the Highlands was the usual grandiose journey amid gigantic mountains and lochs and with lots of foreigners again in the area. Why I still dont know ? However as we drove off the ferry at Fishnish and headed for the west coast it was simply glorious and still with no wind at all, mirror calm sea and just beautiful. A word which I use but is never adequate enough to describe these magical Islands when they look like this.
Its another scintillating morning here and what has been interesting for almost two years now is the lack of wind because believe me we are known for wind in the Hebrides ! Breaking my heart and sapping my will however has been the endless battles I have had to go through with such little support for the hundreds of environmental matters that there is absolutley no one in charge of or responsible for here. Such as the lack of small parking areas, visitor interpretation and maybe two or three WOW !! viewpoints. There are still many people including government that do not understand the link between the Worlds amazing natural environments and the value of this to rural people in those areas. Surely improving things still further doesnt just mean protecting wildlife and wild places but also more economic security and job creation for our youngsters? Instead government plan where they can drill for more oil, or stick another gigantic fish farm. I watched a fisherman chucking out creels recently and then drive [ hopefully accidentally ] straight at an otter and having raised the question of licensing etc for such sensitive otter territories I was told by our Scottish Natural Heritage rep that it isnt their problem !!! And no one elses it seems. Considering where Mull now is as probably the top wildlife destination in the UK, it has no champions prepared to go public here except myslef. There is still no recognition that we must keep on top of environmental dangers and should even be enhancing wildlife habitats of cocurse. There is no policy from our RSPB Officer and no inclination to meet and discuss environmental matters and how we might improve still further. There is absolutely no proactivity on such matters at all. The only plan A for these islands has to be a National Park Board to guide all of this and actually stimulate quite a lot of public servants and other bodies into delivering a little more. I hope to go on the offensive re National Park status this winter and I know many regular visitors to mull will support me via the Scottish media. For those that fear so called ‘change’ I say that the Hebridean Islands will spoil because we are not a National Park and not because we are. All of these Inspiring Islands have virtually no protection whatsoever and are entirely open to the whim of market forces at present. Does that sound right to any sane person out there??
There simply cannot be anywhere in the world more beautiful than the Hebrides when it is in this mood. We have a red sunset shaping up in the west and beyond the Isle of Ulva and south from here the sea cliffs of Gribbun, Iona, Benmore and Inch Kenneth look like yet another Turner painting after a very misty mizzly start for the trip today but off we went with more Europeans !! 3 otters within 5 minutes of Craignure and distant porpoises in the Sound of Mull and a sea eagle flying low over the sea. Onto Loch na Keal and the adult male sea eagle sitting in a tree while we had a drink and scones. Up the coast and another 3 otters wandering on top of the boulders and catching butterfish. On the other side of the loch wheatears, lots of seals, terns, gannets. With clouds wafting around the peaks seeing golden eagles was going to be challenging. Anyway, a greenshank and then two seperate hen harriers. Golden eagles in Glenmore circling and eventually sitting, red deer stag with his girls and things I have probably fogotten, when the Islands evening beauty is stealing my imagination again.
I have never had such a year with so many other nationalities from Europe on the trips and today we had a family from Switzerland for instance. What’s good about all of this is that it means that the rest of Europe are getting greener !! I just need a few Maltese on the trips and then we can really say we are making environmental progress. Anyway today a sea eagle sitting and then flying within 3 minutes of Craignure. On to check for porpoise and we saw them after another 10 minutes along with more sea eagles. Onto Loch na Keal and more sea eagles !! Then a female otter with a cub swimming and catching fish then going onshore. Common seals on the other side of the loch, rock doves and Greenland wheatears, red throated diver, black guillemot, ravens, always buzzards of course, another very high sea eagle going west. Then our first golden eagle above us and racing across the glen to join its mate and soar back across it. I know the two of them and they failed this year which is a pity when last year was her first youngster, having just come to maturity and listened to her more mature boyfriend and changed her obsession with an unsuitable nesting crag. Into Glenmore and a young golden eagle above and against dark ridges. Across the glen lots of red deer stags and latterly a couple of hen harriers but distant.
The forecast wasnt that bad for today and we started really well as morning misty rain cleared and we saw a male hen harrier and adult female and two young. Later we had another male which landed hidden in the grass while we had tea, coffee and cake. We also saw a sea eagle silhouetted on a distant skyline and another sitting around the corner in a tree. So a really good start which should have continued that way but we got mitsy rain in Glenmore which put paid to golden eagles. Later in the day we had a young sea eagle and adult sitting in a tree, red throated divers again today, rock doves in numbers, wheatears, rock and meadow pipits, ravens, eiders, turnstones, curlews, stonechats, seals etc etc.
Forgot to mention the spotted flycatchers at Grasspoint the oher day and the 4 young sea eagles trying to get an otter on the shingle spits of Loch na Keal that a photographer mentioned.