Part of me would like to say that the weather here in the last couple of days has indeed been vile. However these drizzly, windy, wet days, would indeed be vile if I lived in a city again, but here in the Islands where the air and rain must be some of the cleanest in the world it is not really vile at all and we all know that when it eventually stops and the sun comes out and waterfalls are tumbling everywhere, all of wild Mull will be on the go again knowing that the punishing weather is all part of the beautiful and forever entertaining tapestry of life here. You forgive Mother Nature everything when the wind drops the sun comes out and there are these simply awesome and magical vistas of land and sea which are so much more empty in winter.
My trips are more or less at an end for now and I feel like an eagle that has eventually pursuaded its youngster to go off and explore the world, just to give you a rest. Yet knowing full well that you will miss them but they will soon be back and telling me that it’s not like the Hebrides out there in Watford or Barnsley !!
Yep, pretty wild today alright with one or two of my customers pretty wild too.
I was very apprehensive today because the weather forecast was diabolical. I also had 3 French people who spoke no English ! As it turned out though, their limited English was far better than my worse than limited French!!
Off we went then and had two golden eagles as we left here on the hillside above the house. Having collected everyone else we saw an otter on some seaweed islets off Glenforsa. 15 minutes later the otter was replaced by two adult sea eagles which gave wild views amid the wild scene today such as you might get somewhere in Northern Russia. Offshore some of us also had teasing sightings of porpoise.
Onto Loch na Keal and a slavonian grebe, curlews and ringed plovers. On the other side of the loch I had another otter among the seals there straight away. It gave good ‘ottery’ views for some time along with a really dramatic young sea eagle out in the rain over the sea, which was trying to get a young Gannet whilst chased by gulls. The sea eagle eventually gave up and sat on a headland before heading off to find lunch somewhere else.
Around 30 minutes later I found the much promoted [ by me ] golden eagle, soaring and dashing along the hillside. Eventually we found a few groups of red deer and a fleating hen hharrier in Glenmore. As we dropped out of the glen and encountered better weather I spotted another female hen harrier about 200m out and so a very good day of sightings considering it was pretty poor weather.
Just spotted that on my 8th October posting I got an important figure wrong. In that in an official report some time ago, tourism accounted for 85% of cash coming into the Argyll area and not 25%.
When I do occasionally look back on my postings I see the odd spelling mistake and the odd hen harrier or other creature not recorded in postings and so do accept my apologies for that. If I make errors it is uusually connected with my haste to get a posting done knowing full well that I should be helping Joy with the housework, weeding, painting, cleaning my vehicle out and dealing with email enquiries or signing yet more worthy online petitions etc
It’s been sensational weather while Charlie and Sonny have been here. Charlie joined me on a wildldife trip yesterday and exhausted me with his endless chattering. However we have all had a super time as usual. How can anyone not enjoy the compnay of young children when their openness and innocence makes them say and do such interesting things?
However as per my diary title today it could’nt last and I was up with them at 6 am this morning to drive them back to Glasgow and lucky for them a trip tommorow to the Canary Islands. I have just walked in the door very consious of the excellent group and wildlife trip we had yesterday when we got almost everything my guests would have hoped to see.
A number of Porpoise early on then and after a quiet time on Loch na Keal in winged the adult female sea eagle with legs out and alighting to give very good views. I got the Jays again in the same area and then across the water a dipper, an adult golden eagle and a young female showing her white wing patches and white tail with it’s black band as she soared against the blackness of the high crags on Loch Ba which made her look very colourful and striking with the sun shining only on her. My otter friends on the loch were up to their usual tricks of giving us a number of glimpses whilst on the islets offshore and then galloping over the back of them. Not to worry though because we had a very good sighting of an otter much closer on Loch Scridain. On Loch na Keal we also saw slavonian grebes and a big one for me, a red knecked grebe. Kestrels, buzzards and ravens as usual and a lot of stags with their Harems yesterday giving off lots of roaring and posturing to impress them, and everyone else.
This sunny calm weather just rolls on and on here with a beautiful sunrise right now and clear sky. We have had three terrific years of weather here and my only concern is that if we get one better than this year in 2015, we will definitely all be out of water. Today however my customers will be in a good mood but personally I would prefer sunshine and showers.
Lots of memories flooded around me yesterday as Sonnie and Charlie explored the grey sand beach 20 minutes north of here. Like my own once a year childhood holiday to Skegness away from life amid the steelworks of sheffield the children were making boats and looking for interesting shells and other treasure ! It was warm, sunny, very tranquil and their black silhouettes framed against the glistening beach and the sea beyond reminded me of a photograph I took as a student at art College many years ago. The Hebridean Islands are such empty, peaceful, evocative and magical places that you seem forced into reflecting on your life and I know that many visitors feel the power of this too..
I have no no trips until Tuesday as we have Sonny and Charlie with us for a week and it brought fond nemories watching them both combing the big grey sand beach at Carsaig for sapphires and fossils, which our own 3 children did when they were their age.
I have said it a few times but if you were given a blank canvas and asked to create the most atmospheric and beautiful place, it would have to be Carsaig at anytime of year. It’s a longish run from here and then down a usually empty 1 in 3 drop to the old jetty there and gorgeous views out to Jura, The Mull of Kintyre, Colonsay, Arran and the Paps of Jura.
We set off in poor weather and on the way encountered some real downpours, but the great thing about island holidays is that you can go north, east, south or west of cocurse and we duly found better weather there in the south.
Yesterday everything at Carsaig seemed to be in black and white with the huge expanse of the Firth of Lorne flat calm and silvery white. The big grey sand beach there which always seems to be empty was wet as the tide had retreated and looked like a great sheet of glass with small wavelets lapping its edge. Three summer plumage great northern divers bobbed offshore with shags as a huge red deer stag with his harem watched from a grassy slope behind the beach. As we walked back I found a female otter with a cub swimming and flashing their long tails as they dived, before galloping up onto a seaweed bank. It looked like paradise for the otters with lots of low black islets surrounded by this silvery calm sea. I think its magical there and I have such fond memories of Carsaig.
Today is Friday and we have alll been out to see the start of the second stage of the Mull Car Rally at Craignure, little boys loving such things of course. Yesterday we were out late at night watching the rally cars roaring like stags at the top of our road.
We are enjoying yet more of this terrifc weather and off to Oban today to meet Lucy and collect Sonny and Charlie, who are staying with us for a week. Yesterdays Wildlife Expedition was typical, being pretty windless and sunny again. An excellent trip with initially no sign of sea eagles, but then I spotted an elusive bird for me here, which was a jay dancing along the top of the trees and in the background an adult sea eagle coming our way with lots of calling from the trees as it was about to alight on them. After enjoying the sight of two of them for a while, along with some slavonian grebes behind us, I spotted another large dark figure gliding along the top of a distant ridge which landed on the end of a crag. Sure enough it was a golden eagle which along with more sea eagles and a big young golden eagle, gave lots of entertainment. So much so that I could see myself stuck in this area for some time ! Off up the loch now to try and find otters. It was some time before I did and I am not a hundred percent, but I think we had two rolling around and romping along seaweed covered islets and in among the seals there.
Onward now for harriers and other things. On Loch Scridain we had a summer plumage great northern diver and in Glenmore those evocative views of red deer stags wit their harems silhouetted against the sky on top of the hills. All very Monarch of The Glen and all that !
Its going to be a super sunset tonight.
Off to Oban yesterday on another brilliantly clear and sunny day. Lots of gannets are still around but nature took second place to lots of jobs to do in Oban.
For todays willdlife trip it seems that we have the same weather in store for us again and Mull will of course look sensational for my customers. Will it look so sensational in the future though if our hopeless Community Council and chairman Mike Shilson get their way with a big two lane road ploughing all the way from Tobermory to the ferry point for Iona. In over 35 years I have never known our council insitigate one single environmental/ tourism project off their own bat. They have not an ounce of empathy with their own Island and simply do not understand the essence of what these magical Islands are all about and the massive value to the economy that our Ecotourism image now is. I remember official figures in the past showing that tourism accounts for around 25% of the cash that comes into the lArgyl area, whilst farming, fishing and forestry accounted for 8% in total !!! Our visitrs enjoy the wild experience here and our single track roads are a huge part of that experience. Why on earth would any visitor want to blast their way through all of this visual beauty at high speed, when the journey through our varied island is so wonderful to enjoy. Anyone out there feeling the same as me, please write to Mull and Iona Community Council, An Roth, Craignure, Isle of Mull, Argyll, Scotland, please.
The Island is permanently entertaining and the last 24 hours have shown every possible change in light, landscape and weather, except snow !!! Which unfortunately for children here, we see little of anyway, on the West Coast of Scotland.
Yesterday morning was fine and we nearly had a young sea eagle fly into the bedroom as one lumbered toward the house and the open window. Fortunately it veered off toward th sea at the last minute but it was as close as I have ever been to a sea eagle I guess.
Trips are quiet now but out and about there were golden eagles on the hill behind the house. The afternoon turned very wet with violent overnight winds and heavy rain until morning. The wind and rain stopped about 9am and the sun has been taking it in turns again with the occasional showers. One of the Loch na Keal adult sea eagles was sitting out on its favourite winter place, the shingle spits eating out into the loch at low tide. It was suddenly off and scattering all the geese and gulls to glide low across the sea to the other shore. The light, adding to the serenity of the scene here is quite perfect and right now at 5pm the sea is like a golden carpet out to the South of Mull which like Iona is silhouetted black on the horizon against a golden sky, with the sun bursting above it all. The sunset could be good this evening.
It the most glorious and yes ‘inspiring’ day here today with brilliant sunshine taking it in turns with short sharp rain showers. Pity I don’t have a widllife trip today because sunshine and showers is the best weather for wildlife watching in Britiain.
Back to being inspired though. Don’t all of us actually need to be inspired at some time in our lives and what a pity it is that our politicians seem so incapable of doing it.
For me, I am always inspired by the vast and wild unspoiltness of the Hebridean Islands and of course Golden Eagles !! Few of my own species have inspired me in life however, except the great Leonardo da Vinci who seems to have been brilliant at everything. Then there’s John Denver who from the very first hearing of one of his songs, has always inspired me with his poetic and always meaningfull lyrics about people, nature, the oceans and his own love of the Rocky Mountains. I few people have asked me about his songs and being an incurable romantic I would recommend his 3 DISC Pack entitled ‘Take Me Home’ and DISC ONE songs .8, 9, 11 and 16. DISC TWO 1, 3, 5,and 8. DISC THREE 1, 4, 9, 10,11. The rest are all pretty good too !
I hope some are inspired to live in these wild and beautiful places where we need inspiring people.