David\

Sunny isnt good !

Interesting that when quizzed most people dont know what the best weather is for wildlife watching in Britain ? Lets clear that up then, as yesterdays weather was not good i.e sunny all day. Yes great for humans it seems but wildlife in Britain goes all ‘Italian’ on such days and just wants to sit around. So it was challenging yesterday but we did see an adult sea aegle sitting and its two youngsters chucking themselves about on a hillside nearby. We also eventually got a great view of an otter and very close. Back to weather forecasts though. Rain all day is deadly but a wet morning with rain clearing is very good as every wet creature including humans is wanting to dry off and do things. So its back to the best weather then and that is sunshine and showers with all ceatures putting down or sheltering when a shower arrives and when it stops its off to dry off and this pattern of regular activity will continue all day under sunshine and showers conditions.

Happy wildlife watching everyone.

 

 

Brittany

Sorry for the lack postings in the last week and there is no truth in the gossip that I had been taken by a sea eagle. In fact it was a holiday with our two grandchildren Charlie and Sonnie in Brittany which we felt would be a short flight and so it was, but a big delay  of 2 hours when  Easyjet found a large hole in the middle of the Stanstead runway !!

Mull is beautiful from here again with a bright sky and totally flat sea all the way from my office to Iona in the distance. However Brittany was a surprise in having such a varied and beautiful coastline and beaches. Inland it is a little plain and flat with endless fields of wheat and corn on the cob, until you get to historic villages and towns which are truly fascinating and where the people always seemed stylish and from what I saw there wasn’t a speck of litter anywhere in Brittany !!

It’s a pity that we dont have some of the above but what we do have which I find only rarely on my travels, is this wild and expansive untamed emptiness and beauty that is not cared for, nor valued enough in my opinion. The only reason that it has never been spoiled so far is that it is just to ‘bumpy’ for humans to exploit. Historically as with the rest of Europe our species always likes it flat !!!

Dolphins !!!!

On Yesterdays trip it drizzled all day but we still had sea eagles flying and sitting, otters, peregrine falcons and a female hen harrier hunting and passing prey to its offspring. For a wet day I think it was a very good day.

Todays weather was so much kinder and 10 minutes out of Craignure we found around 10 bottlenosed dolphins with their big fins rising and falling as they swam purposefully up the Sound of Mull. We left them still heading toward Salen. On Loch na Keal a sea eagle was coming straight over our heads and into the trees only to come out again to settle on the hillside with a fish beneath its talons. Another 10 minutes and it was back to the trees again almost certainly to feed one of their young. Then a great view of an otter which I picked up way back toward the Killiechronan campsite. Ideally it was coming our way and sure enough it swam below us and after 5 minutes in trotted along the top of a long seaweed covered islet mobbed by common gulls.

Off to the other side of the loch and negative tales of the golden eagles not being see since 6.30 in the morning !!! However they know me !! And excitedly we picked one up a few miles across Loch Ba and waited for it to break the skyline above us, which it did and soared around checking on its youngster before heading off again. A sitting peregrine falcon on sea cliffs next, eiders, black guillemots, seals, sandpipers, pipits, wheatears, stonechat, another sea eagle soaring, lots of red deer stags etc And so a really good day in more sunny weather.

Jurassic Park

Yes just like Jurassic Park on the southern coastline of Mull yesterday walking along the the raised beach which makes for a very good footpath from Loch Buie toward Carsaig. It was very hot, very empty and of course hugely varied scenery again with bracken as high as 7 feet at times, giving the sensation that some prehistoric thing might lumber out of it . Despite the fear of dinosaurs it was simply tropical and beautiful with lots of willow warblers and unusually high numbers of spotted flycatchers along the route.

All in all it was another expansive and gorgeous scene of cliffs, mountains, dense forest, blue sea and lots of distant and evocative islands in the Firth of Lorne, which it seems only The Hebrides can deliver and in yet another excellent year for weather. But we still need water !!

Today was very sunny again and I have been working on the house. When I am not on wildlife trips I feel very guilty if I am not working and maintaining this lovely house.

 

More

Yes more of the same here yesterday and today. Yesterday we had glorious weather again and two sea eagles sitting and flying. One had been feeding the youngsters which we could just about make out. An otter and seals were on Scarisdale Rocks, peregrine falcon on sea cliffs sitting on the skyline and calling also, two golden eagles soaring in Glen Seilesdair and a sitting sea eagle which took off after 10 minutes and soared above us. As we dropped out of Glenmore we had a female hen harrier gliding around and two seperate male hen harriers with one very close. People on the trip were very nice yesterday, but they usually are !!

Today was another hot sunny day for a trip to Oban where I saw Skuas scrapping in the air, gannets, terns and manx shearwaters. Its a great piece of fish in batter that they do over in Oban but you have to have a bit of salt and lots vinegar of course ! And always in the open air.

Its now a beautiful serene afternoon from here with rich rich colours across land and sea and more of the same tomorrrow I hear.

Heavy rain then blazing sun

It is back to tropical weather again after 24 hours of rain.

It has been great having our two older grandchildren here. They were absolutely cocka hoop at seeing the male and female hen harriers meet up and pass prey to each other, which has to be one of the top wildlife experiences in Britain and maybe beyond. The circling female calling and then heading off to meet the very handsome male and the expectation for the onlooker that goes with that somehow makes for this magical and rare moment.

Just before this I at last pinned down good views of short eared owls sitting and flying and thankyou to Noel and Sue for tracking these down. Isnt there just something equally magical about seeing an owl hunting and then relaxing on a post in the middle of the day?

Otters, golden eagles, sea eagles have elso been good to me with an odd lapse in not seeing the goldies as they begin to neglect thier youngsters deliberately to encourage them to get off that nest !!

Plenty of smaller birds about now also as we have had such good weather to rear youngsters this year.

Plenty to come then with birds fledging here and others migrating down from Iceland and Greenland will be here soon. And then off course Winter and the emptiness and beauty of a quite different Island. Where you can walk on white sandy beaches in the south and never see  a footprint, sit up against a pink granite rock in the sand, read a book or write one !! and feel the warmth of our winter sun and enjoy precious solitude.

 

 

 

Island holiday tips

After the very long spell of dry and sunny weather it has broken here and if you are thinking of coming or are already here on the West Coast of Scotland make new plans !!

If its dry when you get up in the morning don’t assume it will stay that way and don’t assume that if it’s raining it will stay that way either. With the former get out and enjoy this stunning area and if it stays that way then good. If it doesnt at least you have had the best of the day as I am going to do now on my trip and try and get both eagle species and harriers early on. Otters and all creatures connected with the sea are not in the least bit bothered about rain of course. Maybe we need to learnn to enjoy it too !!!

 

More !

It’s another gorgeous morning here with a flat sea and all of our conservatory doors open to cool the place down. Yesterday was the same and as I set off with some guests from Germany to collect everyone else, we had dolphins below us on Loch an Keal. I pretty rapidly found sea eagles and golden eagles, otter and the peregrines were sitting on the skyline as I got a gentle ticking off from a young police officer about parking in passing places. I suggested that she have a go at our island leaders instead, to get the small parking areas and interpretation in place that they have promised for ten years now !! If you love Mull and come here you will understand what I mean and so please write to The Oban Times, Oban, Argyll  and give our wishy washy Community Council  a ticking off and Alex Salmond a ticking off too for misleading the country with his National Park promises which have also not been honoured !!

Eventually during the day we found a female hen harrier flying around and then sitting on top of a tree [ which seems to have got trendy among hen harriers here lately ]. As we moved away the male arrived and passed prey to her and they both then circled around and he went off to find more.

Rain is forecast tomorrow in the afternoon, which we need badly in all of the islands now.