The super weather and trips continue for me this year, with in the last few days all the members of the Diver family. Great find of a golden eagle by me on a hillside in vegetation. Sea eagles are still giving great views and harriers often passing prey. Yesterday was a trip to the exotic southern coastline of Mull with its rugged sea cliff coastline and dazzling remote white sand beaches. Add the shallow tropical sea with islets and reefs to snorkel around. On the way I was pleased to see my peregrine friends after 3 weeks of silence. The male was off his sea cliff perch and joining his mate to catch some prey paassed by her in the air and then circle in front of the nest to tempt the youngsters out.
In the south a coot, female hen harrier, rock doves, kestrels and others. The expansive emptiness of ocean, sea cliffs and coastal views. Of tropical looking sea, blazing sun and white sand beaches to die for. It is to me beauty beyond mere words down there and utterly unspoilt or even discovered. Treasure Island it is alright and probably still has more treasures to discover !!
More good weather on Monday and straight away we had a sea eagle sitting on a headland tree and one more on Loch na Keal sitting, but we waited for some time hoping to see the male arrive but we had to go and no sooner were we on the way than he was putting lots of birds up and coming over our heads pursued by ‘tiny’ buzzards. We all had a good view. Across Loch na Keal I had one of those miracle sightings in finding a golden eagle sitting in vegetation and blending so well. Soon they were both up and flying and giving those stirring eagle moments. Could I find mum and the otter cubs further up the coast, no !! Onward after scones and drinks and eventually lunch when I found a sea eagle sitting on top of a tree which again gave super views for all. Now onwards some more to find the hen harriers. We waited for around 15 minutes and then there he was dancing along the landscape carrying prey, and so it was wait for it, wait for it, wait for it and then WOW !! As she came up to him both flicking their wings rapidly. She then turned over looking bigger and he released his prey and she caught it upside down and was then off to feed her young. BIG, BIG moments in nature these, particularly with harriers not breeding at all in England last year. They love it here, like me !!
Britains most handsome bird as most people agree is the Black Throated Diver in summer plumage. They do not nest on Mull to my knowledge and need largish freshwater lochs to nest on. But there he was on another fine day here bobbing on his own just off the jetty at Calgary Bay. Three Otters were also there and making their way across to the other side of the loch, which they regularly do there. To throw these birdwatchers off the scent I guess.
In the next bay up the coast, which is Calliach I had something offshore which at first I thought was a basking sharks fin but I saw that it was grey and seemed to have small barnacles on it which then had me thinking I am looking at a ouoy, but it then submerged and was lost leaving me baffled. Never mind I had very good views of Great Skua and then the gulls were going silly because of something on the rocks just up from the shore and there it was, a pregrine falcon eating something and quite unconcerned about the regular bombardment.
It was a good day out then with our son Sam and his girlfriend Heather and more good days of weather I think until the end of the week at least but we do need some rain here now.
Its another very dry and sunny day here, so jobs to do around here and then it was off to look for Crossbills which my friend Gerald Seymore had tipped me off about at Loch Ba. However no sign of them but super sightings very close of Britains most colourful woodland bird, the male Redstart, feeding 3 youngsters. Like the male Hen Harrier he can take your breath away with his looks.
On yesterdays wildlife trip we had two Sea Eagles sitting together and across the loch I found the two adult Golden Eagles about 2 miles out circling a mountain and scrapping with two buzzards. Getting everyone to stay focused with such distant sightings can be tough but they did and were rewarded big time, as they both stuck their heads into the wind and came from well out to glide along the ridge to check on their youngster. Then off again back to the fray only to come back again 20 minutes later but this time they alighted together and gave the most glorious views of Golden Eagles. I am on a roll with certain otters and there they were Mum and her Cub romping and rolling about on two seaweed islets with the seals. On to Glenseilesdair and very high up we encountered the two Golden Eagles from there even higher up and interracting repeatedly with two Ravens. These are the most inspirational sightings of Golden Eagles that you can get I feel, as they race along silhouetted black against a blue sky, diving and swooping and occasionally landing high and free in their always majestic domain. Laterly a female Hen Harrier near Ben Taladh and then two adult pairs of White Tailed Sea Eagles flying and landing on a hillside. It was a great climax to another great day.
Yes it is far too hot lately and still unusually calm each day, but should we complain !! It was easy to spot the porpoise on yesterdays trip and the sea eagles were both sitting and then one flying chased by buzzards. The reward for everyone’s patience as we watched two golden eagles at least a couple of miles out, was as they both straightened up and came toward us with the female eventually gliding along the cragside to alight and give great views. The female otter and cub were on a small islet offshore again and where my telescope really comes into its own. We saw lots of smaller birds on our journey today but the next on the big list was the male hen harrier and we as arrived in a good area an adult sea eagle was close and going over us having been chased off by the male and female harrier. She escorted one of the birds off her territory and then the male was swooping up and down at the other sea eagle. A really good day then with top sightings again and guests from Tasmania, New Zealand, Watford ! and friends from Sheffield.
We are still in this most gorgeous spell of weather here and Joy and I have just returned from a night at the Crown Plaza Hotel on the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow. It was an altogether lovely time with a super room, delicious food, happy children, a nice shirt for fathers day from our daughter Lucy and the usual stunning drive through Glencoe, where there is still some snow on the highest mountains. This evening I was inspired to do this posting because of the light out here this evening and the colours of the landscape. Benmore is golden with a couple of golden clouds around its peak, out toward a flat sea we are in for a big sunset in an hour or two but the star is the emerald green landscape in front of the house with millions of tufts of pure white cotton grass filling the view. It looks exactly like a major dusting of snow.
I am besotted by these Islands as all know. It needs to be a National Park with a very caring Board to look after it.
Each day weatherwise and wildlifewise is rolling into the next now and I am forgetting each days sightings because I am so busy.
We have had exceptional weather for some considerable time now and this evening is no exception with sunshine and a mirror calm sea continuing late into the evening. Otters again today and now in a regular but slightly unusual place for me but the tide has to be right. I watched this small patch of brown today on a small islet offshore and even in my scope I wasnt sure whether it was one of my otters and then the rising tide lapped its tail and it was up and being a very obliging otter. I also found a big male on Loch Scridain and knew where he might end up and so we skipped up the road and onto a small cliff above him and then watched him come inshore and meander in among the seaweed onto shore and into his holt. Sea eagles have been as always spectacular with one near the RSPB viewing area pretty close sitting and then climbing, mobbed by a buzzard. No peregrines today but the other day they were going mad and very vocal on a site I know. Golden eagles have also been obliging sitting and soaring above but today was a fleeting break of the skyline and then gone. Harriers passing prey the other day and today a female coming from well out. Possibly Mull’s last summer plumaged great northern diver today also with others now in Iceland. The rest is a blurr to me of happy customers warm handshake and lots of feathered friends. One chap said it was the best day out he had ever had !!
Yes its another dazzling day here with the white sands of Iona shining again across the sea and the very top of Benmore pushing through a few puffy white clouds. The world is your oyster as they say here in the Hebridean Islands today.
On yesterdays trip it started a bit mizzly in fact but the windows in the weather were perfectly timed by me !! So the sea eagles were flying and sitting and the perfect otter sighting of one swimming and rolling around on the seaweed. Scones and tea or coffee and then glimpses of a golden eagle through the foliage on a hillside. Wheaters, divers, seals, ravens, kestrels etc. Lunch, then another big view of a sea eagle sitting pretty close on a tree and then flying off. A really top sighting of golden eagles in Glenmore sitting, gliding along the cliffs and then soaring above chsed by kestrels and ravens. Finally the male hen harrier gliding around the hillside for some time and then racing away along the landscape.
I had keen people again with two from Belgium and its been quite an international sort of year here with my own species becoming more and more interested and respectful of the planets inspiring wildlife. It’s a matter of time now before we also realise that many of them are probably more intelligent than us in fact. As I have probably stated before, is it more intelligent or sheep like to live in suburbia, or be a golden eagle soaring free with the love of your life among the peaks of the beautiful Hebridean Islands !?!?
Looking from my office it is yet another serene and sunny day with another flat sea. Though I believe that tomorrow may start a bit wet, but then mybe not !!
Yesterday I had another keen group and lots of porpoise within 20 minutes. It seems the RSPB were ringing sea eagle chicks as we saw them trooping up to the nest site and then the adult birds winging in and soaring above, no doubt concernd for their youngsters in the nest. So a good start to the day and as we arrived on the other side of the loch more exciting activity from the golden eagles tugging at new nest material on the mountainside to freshen up the youngstersr home. We had a few juvenile great northern divers but there ar no adults now in their fine summer plumage. In Glenmore we had a golen eagle tumbling and twisting in the sky with ravens and the doing its dramatic swooping up with powerful wing beats and then plunging down with wings tucked into its body. The majesty of mountainous Glenmore with eagles above doing dramatic things is the ultimate sighting here and maybe anywhere else in Britain I think and is a display of freedom personified.
Further on we had another golden eeagle much higher and again doing its undulating display. As usual we saw red deer stags with rapidly growing new antlers, seals, common sandpipers, mergansers, eiders etc but the otter eluded me for most of the day until I dad dropped all but our two residents off and there it was drying out and rolling around in the afternoon sun on the seaweedy rocky shore of Loch na Keal. I wished everyone else had seen it.
Tough decisions today as low mist and sometimes mizzle wafted around the Island making it impossible to predict what weather was going to be where !! However it’s that time of year when I can bet on knowing almost everyone out wildlife watching at this time and I shook quite a few hands today and gleaned bits of information from many visitors.
To the Sound of Mull then to look for porpoise and got a big male otter instead and as there was much demand to sea otters I call that a success. As was the other otter on Loch na Keal this time a female I think and onto the south side of the loch and a further otter. So we were ottered out ! As the mist cleared we had good views of the male sea eagle on Loch na Keal and across the other side and flying, sitting etc etc., excellent views of the golden eagles there. From then on I could not find the peregrines but they were hidden in the mist, nor the hen harriers but by then I was getting pushed for time. Common sandpipers, great northern divers, mergansers, goosanders, twites, ravens, wheatears, whinchat, seals and red deer etc.
The mist has now cleared and we have a clear and calm evening.