I had 5 dutch people on the trip the other day but fortunately they all spoke English and I knew a lot of our wildlife names in Dutch. Otherwise they rattled on in dutch between themselves all day. It was like living in Holland and I will have to learn dutch as I get quite a lot of them on the trips. It was a good day for me and them as we got all of the big sightings they could hope for. An otter early on, a few golden eagles, hen harrier, red deer and dippers regularly now and laterly after much looking, a sea eagle sitting proudly in a tree against the skyline. We have had excellent weather here and may be in for one of our early dry spells, which meant water shortages last year and lots of forest fires but actually an hour ago we had 10 minutes of light rain !!
Off to a tourism marketing group meeting tomorrow and with the new committee lets hope they get bigger minded than our last group who endlessly blamed a lack of money as the factor for not delivering but really as always its about not having creative ideas on such committees don’t you think..
On wednesday I am taking out a group including a couple of girls from Norway who are down here to learn how we run our wildlife tourism business. So I am flattered of course ! Last time I met with Norwegians on a similar mission they gave me a reindeers heart as a delicacy there??
It’s a truly beautiful day here today with warm sun, snow dappled mountain peaks and another flat sea. We had to go and have a look off Caliach Point, the most north westerly point on the Island and dazzling it certainly was with its vast expanse of sea out to Skye, Rhum, Eigg, Muck, Canna, Coll, Tiree and the most westerly place in The UK, the Ardnamurchan Peninsula with its huge Stevenson lighthouse. It was awesome just being there and in summer there’s a good chance of minke whale and basking shark from there too.
In the last few days I have had a couple eagle filled wildlife days with I think 9 eagles of both species in the air at the same time and two more golden eagles I know, that came from well out to land within 5 minutes of each other in exactly the same place. How do they spot each other sitting and among thousands of rocks from such distance and height ?
On another golden eagle territory we again had a top encounter as one grabbed nest material from the hillside. I am pleased to say that one of them was already on the nest and looking positive ! Unlike us they read the weather so well, which we can no longer do and they judged right because the weather is the most settled that we have had this year.
All in all Mull is looking its glamorous and pretty desterted self, where you can sit on a headland and view the scene for miles and miles and miles. Why on earth do so many people insist on ‘touring’ Scotland. Here in these romantic Islands it is not just about ‘seeing’ but maybe more about ‘feeling’ these truly wonderful places and that means giving them some of your time.
Could it be Spring today after such poor weather here on the west coast. Not that it is ever as depressing as winter in suburbia as out to my left and 5 miles diistant all of our highest mountains undulate along covered with snow and yet out in front of the house the sea is dappled in blue and the gold of the sun bouncing off it. It’s all so bloomin atmospheric and visually stunning here, but then I am always saying that ! I have had wildlife trips in the last couple of days and again tomorrow and Monday and I know the weather is good but not on the recent two trips but if I could bring them both togther and say that we had lots of great northern divers, skylarks, meadow pipits, goosander, shellducks, teal, mergansers of course, common guillemot, lots of buzzards, peregrine falcon and two of my golden eagle friends which were evasive at first but then big views above us and crossing the seacliffs and later three together in Glenmore, one of which could have been last years youngster popping back to tap Mum for a good meal, possibly. Sea eagles gave very good views but otters I could not find and the word is that they are inland a little more looking for frogs at this time. On the way home after yesterdays trip I saw a few porpoise in one of their favourite sites and of course the more obvious birds such as thousands of common gulls which are of course rare in England. Looking out to sea from here now the sun is dazzling me from the sky and off the very big sea that we have from here. Why would any human live anywhwre other than these magical Hebridean Islands which are after all our more natural habitat than the city or suburbia.
We had a terrfic and sunny time In beautiful and stylish Seville for Chirstmas but came back to one of the poorest winters I am sure we can all remember and currently we are having days of this mizzly demoralrizing weather and I feel for the lapwings wheeling around the land below us and the limited opportunities that they and our land based wildlife are getting. However there are moments !! and we were out and about a few days ago with a relatively clear but windy day. Both eagle species were on their favourite hill behind the house and down the coast the resident White Tailed Sea Eagles were back on their pre 2013 site. Slavonian grebes were plentiful and great northern divers the same and showing hints now of their stunning summer plumage. There were lots of skylarks and under Gribbun cliffs I found one of the peregrines sitting on a favoured grassy knoll. Two rock doves shot past it [as one has done here just now] and the peregrine glanced, digested it and was of after them along the cliffs. Of course by now I understand raven language for EAGLE !! and there they were beating their wings madly and cronking away when off the sea came a golden eagle heading for their patch. There was much turning over and talon threatening and the ravens diving and cronking at the eagle until one of the peregrines showed up and joined in and they all raced off together along the cliffs. These occasions always seem like fun to me rather than some deadly encounter and of course the eagle almost never harms the birds that pester them, when they could of course. I suppose its rather like we humans bantering and huffing and puffing with an irritating next door neighbour.
I think people assume that in the Islands we probably get a lot of sea fret/mist but actually it’s extremely rare, like Snow !! However today has been very misty and it’s just turning sunny but how magical it has been here of late, with no wind and a tropical looking Island. Warm in the sun and in places warm out of it. Magical indeed after the drama of wind and rain. Off to Oban Tuesday where there were a lot of red faces on people that were not used to the sun yet. But back to nature and as we left our drive the hooded crows and ravens were first up and chasing a golden eagle around the corner of the hill and then along it turning over to threaten the crows as it went. We ended up very close to it as we drove up the road and then it swirled upward and out of reach of its annoying neighbours.
I say it all the time in my postings I know but every single day is different from the day before. The light, sun,wind, rain or snow capped peaks and horizontal rain at sea level. Brilliant sunrises and even more brilliant sunsets. It’s the complete place to live or visit and will be even more so if and when we grasp the massive environmental prize of National Park status. We have it all but it is very very fragile when it has virtually no protection whatsoever and weak promotion in such environmentally aware times. In fact lots of people assume it is already a National Park, but no, and Scotland was the second last country in the World to have National Parks. It also has the least number of National Parks in the whole of Europe which is impossible to understand when Scotlands inspiring natural wonders are by far it’s greatest asset.
Its been a poor few days here weatherwise but on a wildlife Expedition it didn’t stop us having very good views of sea eagles sitting out on Scarisdale Rocks. It was the otter that was rolling around on a seaweed covered boulder that put us onto the sea eagles as he rolled off his rock and headed out to the islets and the sea eagles. Twenty minutes later the light rain got heavier and the two eagles swung off their island flashing their white tails and headed across the loch to the spot where we had searched for them earlier. We also saw another otter on Loch Scridain and on the way I had a really good view of yet another otter on Loch na Keal. During this damp day we saw a number of slavonian grebes, golden eye, teal, great northern divers, red throated diver, black guillemots and our more typical encounters with red deer etc.
Joy and I have just now returned from Glasgow after seeing our daughter Lucy and our three grandsons Sonny, Charlie and Rufus and crossed a rough sea from Lochaline to Fishnish on Mull.
Bottom line is that no matter what, life in these amazing islands is always imagination grabbing and definitely very adventurous !
You know how it is in the tropics. Beautiful blue sky, the odd puffy cloud and the sun beating down on a flat and very blue sea and the occasional rain shower that you know is going to pass quickly.
Well Mull and Iona were like that today with the most sumptuous colours added for good measure and only the one short shower all day on the West Coast. Unlike the tropics we also have snow capped peaks and now no doubt an equally sumptuous sunset coming up.
I was on the roof again for an hour this morning painting another gable end and then off to the Holiday Mull committee meeting which is my first after resigning a couple of years ago, when they decided not to be proactive anymore. But it seems they are going to have to be again with me on the comittee, doing the right things and keeping it all simple.
Bookings are pretty good here and why should’nt they be when Mull has to be the chosen Ecotourism destination for many people not wanting to travel as far as Costa Rica and New Zealand etc. It’s a heavenly place here and still so untouched in many parts of the Island.
The heading of my diary posting is appropriate after 3 days of chasing windows in the weather. On my two wildlife trips of late we saw golden eagles up in the rain but still happily diving and displaying. It was odd that they were so unconcerned about getting pretty wet [ unless they were just happy to see me, as I was them ]. However the day turned fine and we had a big male otter, sea eagles, hen harriers, lots of great northern divers and slavonian grebes, though the cold wind made it tough being only human. As was the case yersterday too when hot soup and lunch were truly welcome. I have had very nice people to kick off my trips this season, including a Welsh family that reminded me of all that Welsh we had to learn when we lived in beautiful Glyn Ceiriog, near Llangollen, before moving to Mull in 1979 and where I learned so much about wildlife. Yesterday I also bumped into some Chesterfield football fans that I know, who are convinced that they have hit the jackpot being in the Johnsons Paint Trophy !! We had a giggle about our football teams and of course my team Sheffield United are almost in the FA cup final and won again today against MK Dons to romp up league one also. I said I had got a lot done and I was on the roof again today adding the gloss to my undercoat on the gable ends once I had a gap in the rain. But heck what a view from the roof. The Hebridean Islands is the most inspiring place. All of us here have to embrace National Park status and give this magical place something back.