David\

Christmas

Well it’s quiet here now and we are heading into Christmas of course and that means my attention turns to our children and grandchildren. They all love it here and with Joys cooking we all eat and drink very well and hopefully we will do lots of exploring of parts of Mull that I still don’t know enough about. Sonny, Charlie and Rufus love all this Treasure Island stuff that I still enjoy too in fact.

Today we were off to see Sue and Phil at Loch Buie who are very good friends and always so generous toward the children.

On the way out a sea eagle and a buzzard were above the hill behind d the house, a male hen harrier crossed over the road on our way to Salen, a female otter was out with her three cubs at Craignure and another sea eagle flew over us at Loch Uisg. Apart from that Mull was empty and peaceful and Loch Buie was typically Hebridean in Winter with small waves lapping its empty shoreline.

Have a great Christmas and New Year everyone and I am sorry if you did not get a card, which is usually because we dont have your address I am afraid.

Huskies

We didn’t need my minibus for yesterdays trip. The group of Inuits that we all felt like, needed sledges and huskies.

However I have to say that despite the weather conditions and Mull appearing to be entirely in black and white we had a really good time. I felt it better to stay around the coast yesterday as the mountains were white and getting the worst of it and so we kicked off at Grasspoint with a chance of hen harrrier, white tailed sea eagles and otter. Well we got all of those, with a sea eagle firstly sitting across from Grasspoint in a tree. On the way down to follow this distant sighting up we all had very good views of a female hen harrier arguing with a couple of buzzards for some time. Ahead and soaring high above were the  two resident sea eagles and when we walked down to Grasspoint itself I quickly spotted an otter heading for the shore in front of us with a large fish in its mouth. It turned into a super close view of an otter despite the very cold wind and all of us getting a bit wet.

Now off through the woods at Ardura and down to Loch Spelve where I caught sight of a dipper. Before turning  down the Croggan road we stopped for a break as a hen harrier hunted across the grassland and then we were entertained by 4 adult golden eagles diving at each other over Loch Uisg and one obligingly sat on top of the hill across the loch.

At Croggan we had lunch and then decided to head for Loch Buie and saw the golden eagles again on the way. Loch Buie was its usual panoramic and empty self and everyone was impressed with the sight and we had a short walk before heading back to |Craignure and their ferry home.

Wild as Hell

There is wild and wild and then there is REALLY WILD !!!!! Well the last few days have been the latter with vast black clouds coming over us full of hail and very strong winds, to then pass and calm right down. Only to do it all over again.

It looks pretty lovely from my office now. The sea in many different shades of blue to grey has really calmed down and looking past our super Christmas tree the landscape beyond is gold and red and at this actual moment the sea is now blue and green. Of course we don’t get a narrow view of all of this from our perch, but a vast panorama of mountains sea and islands. I don’t wonder at all why ancient people living in places like this were so besotted with the everchanging natural wonders around them and why they gave such romantic names to headlands, lochs, forests, sea cliffs, mountains and wildlife. They would almost certainly belive that behind all of this magic is some Godly being dictating it all.

Unfortunately I had to cancel a wildlife trip today because of the dramatic weather this morning but I believe it is settling down tomorrow and I have five other hardy souls to meet off the Oban ferry. If my weather prediction is right I think we will have lots of wildlife activity, as they also celebrate a calmer day.

Fingers crossed then.

Wintry

Wintry is pretty apt here now, with very heavy but short hail showers overnight. Benmore and its surrounding mountains look like they are topped with snow, but it’s just more and more hail piling on top of itself beacsue it can’t melt at such a height. Down here at sea level its pretty good but very cold and the short bursts of sunshine have been very welcome.

Joy and I have been over to Glasgow to see Lucy and the children and we had a good indoor bowling competition. However there were one or two altercations from the usual bad losers, but fortunately no blood was spilled. It’s always great fun being with the boys and I was massively impressed at seeing what a good artist Charlie was. After all he is only 7years of age but clearly he takes after Lucy and myself. A paint set has now been added to his Christmas gifts, but don’t tell him so.

Down the loch just now I had slavonian grebes, red necked grebe, great northern divers and ever changing beautiful scenes amid the landscape of the National Scenic Area, as the sun wandered in and out of the mountains across the loch. It’s a dark and mysterious looking evening now with clouds, sea, islands and landscape in various shades of blue and black and I from my office I see a single small dot of red in the middle of the sea, which is probably from a small fishing boat.

Eagles

Seems that whenever I step out at the front of the house, or at the back, I am seeing eagles these days.

It also seems that each day now as I sit and ponder over my diary, I am awed and left still flumuxed as to how to describe the evening sun and its glorious look from the office as it sets on the horizon. The reality is that whilst I try, it’s impossible to adequately describe what I see really and so I am  not going to even try today !

I miss being out on the wildlife trips to be honest, giving people such pleasure, excitement and even tears from some as they see their first otter or a golden eagle.

I am like an eagle in a cage at times during the off season and whilst there is always something for me to do on the land or around the building I feel a strange need to be out there in the wilds of Mull. Ideally right now on some empty sweep of white sand in the South of Mull and a red sun setting in the north west. I think that at such times you feel close to ‘something else’.

Winter

It’s Winter and that time of year now but it just doesn’t feel like it yet. Today was so varied and as always atmospheric with periods of glorious sun and then a ghostly mist and light drizzle blanking the entire area out. I just watched  a lone sea eagle circling on the hill behind the house and when I came to the other side a flock of noisy geese lazed by us, flying low. Trips are at a trickle now because everyone thinks we are always deep in snow but the reality is that we hardly see any and you would pobably have a better chance of it in Hyde Park than in the Hebrides.

Yesterday was another glorious day for a trip to Oban but the day before was awful with a lot of rain. This time of year there is always plenty on the sea and a lots of great northern divers wintering, slavonian grebes and in the evening mountain hares, woodcocks galore, occasional bats and tawny owls.

Its 4.50 now and the scene from my office is changing yet again, now with an almost black foreground and deep blue sea behind it. The island of Inch Kenneth is equally black and out in the distance the horizon looks like another world  being covered by grey and black puffy clouds, as if there is a range of high cliffs and mountains behind Iona and Southern Mull. Above is a blue and golden sky and smaller grey and black clouds rising above it all. No doubt we have not seen the best of it yet. It ‘s like a perpetual dance of the seven vails by Mother Nature each evening.

Sumptuous days

It has been another exotic day here and yesterdays wildlife trip was just the same. I have never seen Mull looking so luxuriant and colourful, making the Island too beautiful to ignore, instead of my concentrating on looking for wildlife. However it all fell into place as perfectly as the look of the Island did. On Loch na Keal like the rest of Mull it was empty and had a silence that felt touchable. Luckily as I pulled up at Killiechronan I caught a short movement in the trees and there was the resident male Sea Eagle looking out over the loch. The gulls and other birds were suddenly flying in numbers, which around here usually means sea eagle or peregrine falcon and there was the mate of the sitting bird gliding high above and heading for Gribbun Cliffs. Her partner then took off and crossed the loch to follow her. Ten more minutes into the day and we had two adult sea eagles and what was probably their youngster right over our heads while we had scones and a drink. We stopped for lunch under Gribbun Cliffs just on my gut feeling that we should and five minutes later one of the resident golden eagles launched off the cliffs and tangled with ravens and a buzzard before climbing and heading east.

In Glenmore I made another instinctive stop and again in minutes another golden eagle slid along the top of the hill and sat for a while before setting off again and coming right over us to cross the glen and engage with two ravens. It was a super moment as they soared above dark mountains silhouetted against the sky. Almost at Craignure now and another flat flat stretch of water, when there was the tell tale ring of bright water as an otter repeatedly surfaced and dived to catch prey.

Great wildlife day for everyone at a tough time of year but the look of Mull was the real prize today.

 

Missing

I am sorry there have been no postings in the last week but my dear Uncle George from Sheffield passed away and we had to go down there for the funeral. As  a working class youngster he was immensely kind and took me under his wing and showed me what I could achieve if I really set my mind to it. He was my inspiration.

It was a complicated journey by train but had the plus of our being able to stop over in Glasgow and celebrate Sonny’s 11th birthday with his brothers, his friends and his Mum. Lets forget the ‘complications’ though, we managed to do lots of things whilst in Sheffield before heading back to Glasgow and home to Mull.

Needless to say that it was fabulous weather and scenery going over Rannoch Moor and through Glenco again. Lochs were like glass, reflecting mountains, forest and golden hillsides, all the way through the journey back home where a beautiful sunset from the house ended the day.

I come back as always wondering what the point of city life is when there are such beautiful sparsely populated places all over the world needing caring people and which offer far more rewarding lives and opportunities if you are at all adventurous. I just dont see where the quality of life is and the only plus I can see is that things are so cheap down there. Life in the railway station and elsewhere looked to me like a modern day Bruegel painting and a battle simply for survival.

Quiet

Yes very quiet here at the moment as I don’t have any immediate wildlife trips. Anytime off has always meant lots of work around the house and land. When we had Ulva House in Tobermory, time off meant lots of time spent with our three children, Lucy, Timothy and Sam who were the most delightful and  intelligent children.

I think that no matter what you do in life the more you put into it and commit yourself, the more you get out of it and having children is just like that. In that the more love and attention you devote to them the more you get out of them and the more proud you are of them. I think that too many people have children just because they want them and not because they adore them, as we all should.

Enough serious stuff though. It has been simply lovely here for a long time now, after that amazing summer and today was yet another sunny and dry day. No doubt we will also get another sky simply full of stars too. It’s got to break, unless we get more of those easterly winds. In which case it will be more of the same here which is great for all of our other young wild creatures of course, as it gives all of this  years fledged young a great chance of survival before we get one of those wild wild periods of wind and rain from the west. Or maybe we won’t !!!

 

Magical

I have to log such days here even though they are becoming regular now.

It has been the most magical day with no wind and clear sky and impossible to describe, even though I feel in a poetic mood to try and capture it in words right now.

The sea doesn’t look like our normal sea dappled with magenta and pink. On such evenings there is the usual dark shape of Inch Kenneth, the South of Mull and Iona, with a grey blue background and the rest pink with golden streaks of sun in long wavy lines amid the grey. At this very moment of 4.05pm there is a great ball of fire dazzling me in my office as it shafts into the sky and off the sea this side of Iona. Above the sillhouted horizon beautiful and varied  clouds fill the sky with a small gap of pale blue in the middle of it all.

Have I captured the scene in words? Definitely not because it’s just too wondrous to describe, and right now the fireball is dropping below the skyline and the horizon is pink, grey, gold and red.

It’s an alien and unique look again after a daytime which was close to perfection again.

Finally then !! It is now 4.15 and the sky is on fire red and gold above Iona and the rest of the sky is magenta, blue and grey. It looks Holy.

After evenings like this, I say forget Aurora Borialis. Come to Mulls West Coast with its majestic National Scenic Area and a huge sun that drops slowly from the sky and seems to sink slowly beneath the sea.