I had a really enthusiastic group with me today. So off the mark with numbers of great northern divers [ Loons ] in summer plumage, some with their haunting calls. A cuckoo calling and perched with the host to get the egg, a meadow pipit. Lots of buzzards, hooded crows and ravens. 2 golden eagles up for some time. Then a report from a friend of an otter hit by a car with blooded head and damaged tail eventually wandering off to the sea, then a mum and cub coming from distant islets to be close and eventually sleep in the seaweed. We ‘NEED’ National Park status with a ranger service to pick up on these things but the Hebridean Islands are too remote to understand and embrace the value of National Parks despite these environmentally aware times [ Lobby our Community Council on this ]. Onwards now to look for the peregrines and we had some help from a passer by who had one grooming itself on a cliff ledge. Into Glenmore to look for hen harriers and within 10 minutes a tough choice with golden eagle on one side of the road and a soaring male hen harrier on the other. Laterly we had a male sea eagle going over us at Lochdon. A good day then with lots of warm handshakes and glorious weather.
It’s been a super dry and sunny spell of weather for some time now and it looks like continuing until the end of next week at least. On yesterdays trip we got a sea eagle soaring up with lots of buzzards. Ravens, great northern divers, common sandpipers, shellducks, mergansers, seals, red deer, skylarks, pipits, wheatears, dippers, willow warblers, really bright and close male and female bullfinch and like so many birds here, very clean and colourful due the totally unpolluted atmsphere that we enjoy in the Hebridean Islands. Onwards then to see Golden eagles [ in fact one launched straight off a crag into my telescope view as I scanned for it ]. It felt great to see the male peregrine on sea cliffs as I had been a bit concerned for them. Top view of a a large male otter on Scridain, stonechats and a party of whimbrels just up from Africa, hen harrier in Glenmore and another golden eagle high and repeatedly bombarded by a kestrel and more that day I guess, that as usual I cannot recall right now.
Another great day I think, with young sea eagles early on and heading for an occupied sea eagle territory. So no surprise when we had terrific views of an adult soaring over us and chasing one of the intruders away and then back again to eventually get attacked by a young golden eagle low to the ground. Commom seals and great northern divers in summer plumage on the way to look for an otter, which was immediately heading to shore with a fish and then out again to look for more and eventually arrive on a small islet to eat his fish. In Glenmore I hoped we might see a hen harrier. The wind direction was perfect and after about 15 minutes I caught a glimpse of the truly handsome male dancing along in front of a white cottage. From then I lost him but 5 minutes later I was onto him again and this time heading our way and so everyone got super views of one of Britains rarest yet still persecuted birds of prey.
I had a pre booked group from the Majestic Line yesterday which is a small cruise ship company and they all spoke of delicious food and super times at sea. Seems I should recommend it then.They were joined by two people who have been out with me before. So yes a sunny day but sunshine and showers is better !! However we kicked off with views of adult and immature sea eagles being pestered by buzzards. An hour later I found the elusive otter rolling around on a small islet offshore and with some common seals which are no longer common I am afraid. The otter views were good in the scope and there is always someone very delighted to see their first wild otter of course. Another 30 minutes up the coast and really good views of two golden eagles taking nest material to their nest and being chased along the cliffs by ravens. This repeated behaviour happened for around an hour and the black silhouettes of the eagles racing along the skyline and then sticking their legs out to land was really evocative and how all golden eagle encounters should be. No sign of hen harriers today but lots of reports. Skylarks though, wheatears, common sandpipers, pipits twite, dipper, summer plumage great northern divers, seals, red deer, fallow deer, mergansers, eiders etc. As usual this evening we have the everchanging scene of desert like mountain tops and fabulous colours and light. Heaven is here if we could get more local people to understand the value of National Park status and that these magical Islands are going to change not because they are a National Park but because they are not. All of us from mainland Britain can testify that the most wild and beautiful unspoilt places will change because of pressure from we humans, unless we give them at least some protection.
Yes typical April/ May weather here now, very dry and crystal clear.
I had two famiies with 4 children in total on the trip on Friday and one of them was a young man of 10 years, bright and very interested, just like our eldest grandson Sonny. What a wonderful thing it is to talk and debate things with enquiring and caring children. The little boy was from Preston and has suggested that he will write to me !! Sonny who has been here with Mum and Dad and his younger brothers Charlie and ‘Rufus’ said its great when you have got a big house because there are always jobs to do !! In his optimistic little mind he obviously thinks that’s a great thing to do and all three of them love doing jobs like chopping logs, gravelling our track and painting. In fact they have me outside actually looking for more jobs to do.
Anyway, on the Wildlife Trip I couldnt find the otters, the sea was too dappled to get porpoise but we had very good views of golden eagles and sea eagles flying and sitting, great northern divers now in summer plumage, wheatears etc. Another good day beckons out of my office window and so I must go !
Lots going on in life, wild and otherwise lately and not in any particular order. My efforts to get people here in the Hebridean Islands to talk about National Park status could be going better !! I’m a massive fan of National Parks as the way to get special environmental destinations on the map and create more varied rural job opportunities for young people, who currently tell me that they expect nothing more than fish farm jobs. To say nothing of the fact that Scotland was the second last country in the World to have National Parks and even in this environmentally aware world no country in the whole of Europe has less National Parks. Yet the government have had National Parks in their manifesto’s for the last 3 sessions and done nothing about it. Moving on !! What an occasion it was travelling down to Wembley to see Sheffield United in the FA Cup semifinal. I think it was something like forty thousand Blades fans streeming down the Wembley avenue into the ground to the monumentous noise created by them all. Our son, partner and grandchildren had a terrific time. But life generally in London seems like that of a mole compared to here on Mull. We have had lovely weather and wildlife is on the go everywhere now and there seems to be lots of visitors up here to enjoy it. I have an unusual number of overseas customers booking this year too. Maybe just maybe, they are becoming greener thinking !!
One of those days today when most things are where they could be if a guides life were near perfect.
An enthusiastic crowd for the trip and so a few porpoise early on which I am not surpised people find hard to spot when you need to know a lot about them. Great northern divers more or less in full summer plumage and then on to the West Coast and a close and long term views of an otter, more great northern divers there and slavonian grebes in summer plumage. A dipper doing his stuff in pretty fast and deep water [ they don’t bob to warn off intruders as stated by some ] they bob to impersonate the water. After 15 minutes and light rfreshments a golden eagle soaring over our heads, goldeneye, seals, mergansers. Off to the sea cliffs and a peregrine falcon wafting along to then sit and give super views in the scope before gliding to its nesting ledge. Wheatears, pipits, shylarks and eventually a big view of a sitting white tailed sea eagle. Fab sighting of a golden eagle in Glenmore soaring close, diving at a kestrel and then sitting for some time and as usual lots of things I will have forgotten.
Yes an emotional day for a lady on the trip who has seen her first otter. She isnt the first to get tearful, as I remember a trip a few years ago with a girl and her family desperate for their father to see a golden eagle after 50 years of coming to Scotland and looking for one. The wind was right on the highest road on Mull and one of the two eagles from that territory clearly knew the day was special for me and him and it glided right over our head after coming from a mile out. The whole family were very very emotional. What a thrill for me to give such pleasure to someone. On the trip the other day I had a party of three including the emotional lady and two members of her family and two Norwegian ladies who thankfully spoke better English than my Norwegian. We saw all that you should try and see here with otter, golden eagle, sea eagle, hen harrier, great northern divers and more. We are in reasonable weather on Mull with those perfect breaks between showers that make such days the perfect wildlife spotting day in Britain. Sunny all day is not that good !!