Its been a really sparklingr day here and now a super sunset. It seemed we must go and see if the peregrines are on territory this year after their failure of last year. If the same cold but sunny and dry easterly winds prevail in 2014 certain golden eagles and peregrines will fail again.
On the way there the entire National Scenic Area was more or less empty of humans and on the way to the sea cliffs I spotted mum and two otter cubs eating a fish on the shore with hooded crows harassing them to try and grab their prey. Of to Gribbun now and parking up where the peregrines might show. Initially there was no sign but then above us one was circling and from then on both birds were racing along the sea cliffs and then rushing out to sea repeatedly, until a passing golden eagle disturbed their fun and they set about him and chased him over the cliffs. Peregrines are inclined to pick on anyone by the way !!
Just back to wind direction and the jetstream because we have had 3 very dry summers here with forest fires and shortages of water. This dry sunny weather is entirely to do with the jetstream which has been much further south and good for us in many ways but not good for certain golden eagles and peregrines nesting and facing east and so its a dilemma here as to what we would prefer to happen this year. But its nature and so we and they will have to see !!
I have been really busy in the last week doing normal things instead of willdlife trips, though it has been impossible to ignore Mull in all its alluring ways, with clear days and snow capped peaks across the sea and then ducking and diving to escape its water filled skies. It’s in a calmer frame of mind now and all here seem to respond to this mood. However I am hoping with my very good friend David Pollard to get everyone excited about the considerable possibilities that National Park status could offer us. Why is it that people who care about the natural environment here have to battle with our own community representatives to get the pluses of National Park status even aired when it offers so many glorious opportunities for man and beast here? The Hebridean Islands are one of the worlds natural wonders and unlike most other National Parks all who visit here have to get a ferry to enjoy it and so thankfully we can never be inundated with too many visitors and can manage the numbers because of that stretch of water that protects us and creates the mystical and enigmatic vision of the Hebrides. Mull is at a plateau now and National Park status would help us to stay up there with the best and even build on our hard fought for environmental image. Without it I fear these almost virgin Islands totally open to the whim of market forces, will innevitably spoil not because we are a National Park, but because we are not !!
Please feel free to lobby our Community Council if you are sympathetic to this cause.
I suppose that looking at how the weather is in the rest of the UK I would say that in the last few days we have had it relatively better in the Islands. Today at Calgary where we were checking on wedding venues for our son and his parner it was a cold wind but otherwise absolutely stunning with dazzling sunshine and white capped waves romping across the white sandy beach and no one about of course, except coincidentally a young couple from Ireland with thier baby, whom I met on the ferry to Iona yesterday. Iona was equally lovely crossing on the ferry but it was cold and apart from the Abbey which is always atmospheric, the entire Island was closed with nowhere at all to get even a cup of coffee [ except the spar shop ] or shelter from the wind anywhere on the Island. Seems to me they could have at least the odd timber shelter for thier more intrepid winter visitors.
However on a more positive note the two resident golden eagles from Gribbun were flying high and diving at each other. Slavonian grebes, great northern divers and otter gave a good show, as did the large number of barnacle geese coming from the mainland to feast on Iona’s grass !! Golden eagles and sea eagles again this morning as we left the house also.
The positive thing about heavy rain here is that it doesn’t really stay, because it is so hilly and mountainous that it simply ships all of it to the sea below, Often by a thousand waterfalls all over the island.
Well the last three days have been very good, though there could be rain in the night.. Both eagle species have been up above the house each day and no doubt as pleased as we all are to get out and enjoy the island. One of our areas golden eagles was up above the road as we headed down to the ferry point to go to Oban and it was simply hanging in the air at the southern boundary of its territory. Much of this holding stationary and filling out their body and wings seems all about posing to potential enemies that might want to steal their mate and territory but sometimes it is also about visually saying to their mate, where are you and looking as big as possible in the sky to draw their attention. They also do it above the nest when their young are about to fly, as if to say this is how you do it son, or daughter for that matter !! The light and colours here in the Islands are at their best in the winter because the greens , blues, blacks, browns, greys, gold, white sand and every other colour are at their best because the atmosphere is so clear and colours are all so vivid.
Well it has looked like Iceland today !! Getting up this mornrng two adult Sea Eagles were very close from the bedroom window but what a magnificent sight to get up to when as youngster my brother and I looked out on a dirty cobbled courtyard and a huge gas tank dominating everything. Across the road was always a violent red through a large open gateway, as steel workers fed the furnaces with sparks flying everywhere. So looking out at the scene for me today is pretty close to Heaven now.
We went out to look for Crossbills in the Fishnish forestry again and sure enough there were quite a lot and on the way there the most beautiful Artic scene looking across Loch na Keal to all of our highest mountains. With snow topped peaks and then all of them sprinkeld halfway down with icing sugar. Strangely the mountains had a summery wispy glow as the sun struggled to show itself. What a drive to ‘work’ I now have after industrial Sheffield. I feel that I owe the Island of Mull a great deal and I am determined to repay it with National Park status one day.