Super weather today and no wildlife trip. It is also still very windless here when of course these Islands and West of Scotland generally are noted for plenty of wind. Yesterday the calmness was too much to resist and so Calliach it was to look for cetaceans. On the way we had one of those sightings of a golden eagle sitting on top of a craggy hillside and looking reallyy good in the scope until he took off and flew right over us. At Calliach there was only the odd gannet but we did see an otter below us coming from the rugged shoreline. On the way back a young male hen harrier flew over and so did lots of rock doves. Today was again ‘tropical’ here being very warm and still, when the ambience is just like the tropics which we are familiar with. Tonight we have a flat silvery blue sea with dark islands and a solid grey/ blue sky, above which it is topped by a clear creamy sky and then sprinkled grey clouds. Very photogenic as usual here.
On yesterdays posting I put yellow wagtail [ actually this was Martin’s fault as he is staying with us and checked my wording ]instead of grey wagtail and I did forget a brown hen harrier going high over us in Glenmore. No trip today but it’s looking good for somewhere like Callaich Point and sea watching I feel and also very good for picking blackberries !! Is there anything more delicious than blackberry pie and custard? Be honest !
Just glancing out to sea now and it looks quite dark but the Island off the southern tip of Ulva is bathed in bright sun.
A good and enthusiastic party today, so off to find sea eagles and at Grasspoint I found one sitting on a small hillock. Down to the coast and lots of meadow pipits, yellow hammers, yellow wagtail, sparrowhawks, grey wagtail, kestrels and so many stonechats this year. Then a sea eagle sitting very close and giving great views and pics. It then flew to various points and onto an islet while a seal cleared the water a few times in front of it. Off toward Glenmore and super views of a male hen harrier sitting on a fence eating something and then fly and give us more action. In Glenmore now and distant golden eagles but later very very good views of two other birds flying along a hillside and crags chased by ravens and occasionally alighting for a rest from the chase ! Just got to find otters now but we saw porpoise first but they were distant and beyond a raft of eiders. Back along the coast and yes more really good views of an otter out fishing and wandering around onshore plus great northern diver and close grey wagtail there also..
It looked a very good day today with calm weather, greyish flat seas and no rain forecast. It was inevitably a good otter day but we first had a go at Porpoise but they were distant and only two or three of us saw them. However we saw maybe as many as 6 otters in different places all told, great northern diver, red throated diver, red deer, stonechats which have done well this year and a distant sitting sea eagle. I was under pressure all day today by my aptly nicknamed ‘Eagle Boy’ who lobbied me all the time about seeing golden eagles and had come with his 3 pals all the way from Loch Lomond to hopefully see one. Big view for him then in Glenmore as two rose distant against a black misty mountain range and definitely male and female. Off we go then to get closer and there they both were with one coming over us to disappear behind the craggs while the youngster did the same but sat on the hillside yelping. Just around the corner we found the adult silhouetted against the sky sitting on a peak. Eagle Boy was impressed and moved dare I say. Interestingly our guests staying here put me onto at least 9 pipistrelle bats coming out as the light fades from under the larch cladding around the house exterior and then coming back to land on the stucco walls and walk up under the cladding again. I am pleased to give them a home because we have a plug in elctrical deterrent to stop voles from coming in and eating our limited plastic piping and it seems to have worked but I also thought it was deterring the bats we use to have.
I have a trip tomorrow and it sounds like good weather all week. Yesterday began poorly but became steadily sunnier and uttlerly serene by evening. This morning Mull is again at peace with itself with Inch Kenneth bathed in sun, the same for Iona, a tranquil sea and black and gold cliffs and mountains across the sea with cotton wool clouds covering all of them . It is always so atmospheric here. Why Turner only painted Fingals Cave and Staffa when every day looks like perfect Turner material I just dont know !! My only theory is that he was a bit of a townie really and style would have been lacking for him here. There would also have been very few people to pose to. It’s a bit like fishermen, they all overshoot us and go up to the Tweed and Tay. Climbers go to Skye and artists generally go to St Ives to look poor and ethnic !!
I wish I could meet other humans to inspire me and join with me to get Mull and the other Hebridean Islands National Park status. There is absolutely no one in charge here to take the really big steps forward that we can make to protect and promote these magical Islands in the right way. I don’t meet enough people that care passionately about the big things like I do.
Another everchanging day with low mist, drizzly rain or warm sun. With a forecast to clear I thought we would go and find the otters first. On the way we found a sea eagle and a number of porpoise. On Loch na Keal we had two seperate otters and also a mum and cub on the nothern shore along with a sea eagle and then on the other side more otters including lovely view of another female and cub rolling and wandering around and giving cute ottery views. No sign of golden eagle yet until we parked up at the big viewpoint looking out over all of the West Coast and Islands. However everyone was busy eating and so didn’t notice a golden eagle approaching behind them. Fortunately we were quickly onto it and it also came back to give us another view after initially disappearing over the skyline. A good day then but what a pity it didnt clear up as predicted in Glenmore because I could have found more golden eagles.
Yesterdays posting dated the 17th should have said the 16th. Sorry for that. Yesterday the 17th !! was a slightly better weather day and so we had an otter very quickly eating something directly below us. A few porpoise shortly after, another otter coming onto a seaweedy point below us but I lost it there. Then an adult sea eagle on a tree in the middle of nowhere, but that’s why visitors employ the best guide !! Off to see seals, wheatears, mergansers, greenshanks and lunch below Gribbun cliffs where the two resident golden eagles suddenly launched themselves along the hillside and swept onto the cliff face chased by ravens. Another adult sea eagle very high coming from our Wilderness area and top views of two more sea eagles flying in and perching above their empty nest. Great northern diver, red deer stags with females and laterly a female hen harrier quartering a large open area which I know very well as good harrier habitat.
Mull is in that mood of being very inconsistent weatherwise after the most settled of summers here. Anyway today I had a very jolly and enquiring crowd and we found an otter pretty quickly coming ashore and proceeding to eat a wriggling dogfish, while a gull watched and waited for the left overs. Off to look for sea eagles next and I found the female by last years nest site and a sheltered and favourite perch in winter. A few minutes later we saw the male winging in and got great views of both of them. Below us an otter was doing ottery things and it gave us long term views. After morning coffee and scones we followed it up the coast and got more good views as it kept marking its territory on various high boulders. Later we had another sea eagle gliding over trees and then underneath its sitting mate to land and later both came together in the same tree. So more top views of sea eagles but in poor weather. We also had mergansers, greenshanks, rock doves, buzzards of course, ravens, red deer, rock pipits and probably more but I can’t remember everything!!
Yesterday was a really poor weather forecast arranged wonderfully for the pessimist. Fortunately I am an optimist as all know and so off to The National Scenic Area where people were encamped to see the sea eagles. It seems they had just flown over going toward Loch Ba. Not good then !! But I got to work scanning the distant landscape and around 2 miles away I saw them in a tree which left people not in my group quite bwildered that I could see this so far away with a thousand trees to choose from. I enjoyed a smug feeling I am afraid !! Off then to find them in all those trees but there they were and they gave us super views. No golden eagles today though with such misty weather but an early great northern diver. However a really good view of a male otter 50m offshore and then coming ashore with prey to fill the telescopes. It never did clear until we were almost at Craignure when we spotted Mr Handsome the male hen harrier wafting around and chasing a bird and then he alighted on a post and was then joined by another adult male about 4 posts away. Strangely friendly I thought but super views. In a few minutes I passed a friend and told him where the birds were and it seems that as they arrived another male sat on another post by the other two !! Around 4 females then came over along with a sparrowhawk and 3 golden eagles. Finally another otter at the ferry point. Magical Mull delivers again then despite the weather.
Yes on todays trip I had a really challenging and misty day and we were never going to see golden eagles in such conditions. However on the way out with our own residents we had a very close view of an otter just a few yards away eating a fish on a big boulder, though for the rest of the party that I was collecting at Craignure did not see an otter yesterday. We did however see a number of porpoise, twite, rock doves, lots of buzzards, red throated diver and the first returning great northern diver from Iceland. Otherwise lots of more predictable things such as red deer stags and females, shags, mergansers, seals etc. The highlight though was the two adult sea eagles and their youngster in a spot where I would never look, until the day before as they were more or less in the same area but this time in a large field where it looked as if they had taken a greylag goose and dropped it into the field for their youngster to eat and then each of them kept perching up in deciduos trees while hooded crows had their turn to eat some. It was a very unusual sighting of the Loch na Keal sea eagles and in an odd place. I forget !!! but we also had an equally unusual encounter as I drove onto the southern shore of Loch na Keal as the young sea eagle came right over us and proceeded to fly low and more or less with us all the way to Gribbbun Cliffs !!!!