It has been another exotic day here and yesterdays wildlife trip was just the same. I have never seen Mull looking so luxuriant and colourful, making the Island too beautiful to ignore, instead of my concentrating on looking for wildlife. However it all fell into place as perfectly as the look of the Island did. On Loch na Keal like the rest of Mull it was empty and had a silence that felt touchable. Luckily as I pulled up at Killiechronan I caught a short movement in the trees and there was the resident male Sea Eagle looking out over the loch. The gulls and other birds were suddenly flying in numbers, which around here usually means sea eagle or peregrine falcon and there was the mate of the sitting bird gliding high above and heading for Gribbun Cliffs. Her partner then took off and crossed the loch to follow her. Ten more minutes into the day and we had two adult sea eagles and what was probably their youngster right over our heads while we had scones and a drink. We stopped for lunch under Gribbun Cliffs just on my gut feeling that we should and five minutes later one of the resident golden eagles launched off the cliffs and tangled with ravens and a buzzard before climbing and heading east.
In Glenmore I made another instinctive stop and again in minutes another golden eagle slid along the top of the hill and sat for a while before setting off again and coming right over us to cross the glen and engage with two ravens. It was a super moment as they soared above dark mountains silhouetted against the sky. Almost at Craignure now and another flat flat stretch of water, when there was the tell tale ring of bright water as an otter repeatedly surfaced and dived to catch prey.
Great wildlife day for everyone at a tough time of year but the look of Mull was the real prize today.
I am sorry there have been no postings in the last week but my dear Uncle George from Sheffield passed away and we had to go down there for the funeral. As a working class youngster he was immensely kind and took me under his wing and showed me what I could achieve if I really set my mind to it. He was my inspiration.
It was a complicated journey by train but had the plus of our being able to stop over in Glasgow and celebrate Sonny’s 11th birthday with his brothers, his friends and his Mum. Lets forget the ‘complications’ though, we managed to do lots of things whilst in Sheffield before heading back to Glasgow and home to Mull.
Needless to say that it was fabulous weather and scenery going over Rannoch Moor and through Glenco again. Lochs were like glass, reflecting mountains, forest and golden hillsides, all the way through the journey back home where a beautiful sunset from the house ended the day.
I come back as always wondering what the point of city life is when there are such beautiful sparsely populated places all over the world needing caring people and which offer far more rewarding lives and opportunities if you are at all adventurous. I just dont see where the quality of life is and the only plus I can see is that things are so cheap down there. Life in the railway station and elsewhere looked to me like a modern day Bruegel painting and a battle simply for survival.
Yes very quiet here at the moment as I don’t have any immediate wildlife trips. Anytime off has always meant lots of work around the house and land. When we had Ulva House in Tobermory, time off meant lots of time spent with our three children, Lucy, Timothy and Sam who were the most delightful and intelligent children.
I think that no matter what you do in life the more you put into it and commit yourself, the more you get out of it and having children is just like that. In that the more love and attention you devote to them the more you get out of them and the more proud you are of them. I think that too many people have children just because they want them and not because they adore them, as we all should.
Enough serious stuff though. It has been simply lovely here for a long time now, after that amazing summer and today was yet another sunny and dry day. No doubt we will also get another sky simply full of stars too. It’s got to break, unless we get more of those easterly winds. In which case it will be more of the same here which is great for all of our other young wild creatures of course, as it gives all of this years fledged young a great chance of survival before we get one of those wild wild periods of wind and rain from the west. Or maybe we won’t !!!
I have to log such days here even though they are becoming regular now.
It has been the most magical day with no wind and clear sky and impossible to describe, even though I feel in a poetic mood to try and capture it in words right now.
The sea doesn’t look like our normal sea dappled with magenta and pink. On such evenings there is the usual dark shape of Inch Kenneth, the South of Mull and Iona, with a grey blue background and the rest pink with golden streaks of sun in long wavy lines amid the grey. At this very moment of 4.05pm there is a great ball of fire dazzling me in my office as it shafts into the sky and off the sea this side of Iona. Above the sillhouted horizon beautiful and varied clouds fill the sky with a small gap of pale blue in the middle of it all.
Have I captured the scene in words? Definitely not because it’s just too wondrous to describe, and right now the fireball is dropping below the skyline and the horizon is pink, grey, gold and red.
It’s an alien and unique look again after a daytime which was close to perfection again.
Finally then !! It is now 4.15 and the sky is on fire red and gold above Iona and the rest of the sky is magenta, blue and grey. It looks Holy.
After evenings like this, I say forget Aurora Borialis. Come to Mulls West Coast with its majestic National Scenic Area and a huge sun that drops slowly from the sky and seems to sink slowly beneath the sea.
More of the same then here, being very sunny and windless, with the serenity that pervades the Islands on such days.
Yesterday was the same and I had 3 separate sightings of woodcocks and a few bats in the evening, but more importantly Sheffield United won and we are now 5th in the table !! C’mon United !!
Its been a good day to be on the roof doing some painting and we are now on the way to meet Sue and Phil at the Isle of Mull Hotel for lunch. My vehicle has its annual MOT conducted by a VOSA officer tomorrow and so it has had a good cleanout and wash.
On that note I am always joking with my customers that it wouldn’t be a good idea to come and open a car wash on Mull because all you normally have to do is wait for some of our lovely clean and soft rain, which has usually been reliable here!! However we have had 3 very dry and sunny Spring and Summers and so maybe a car wash could become a good idea if the rain is becoming rarer.
Off to get some proper wild Atlantic Oysters on Loch an Keal also today. I love em, don’t you?
A sunny mellow winter evening such as we have right now is probably the best look that you will get in these lovely islands.
So here is the scene from my office right now, looking out toward Iona through our wild grasses with their golden tips bobbing and a vast sea beyond.
Iona and the South of Mull is dappled black on the distant low horizon and above is a golden sky with magenta clouds and golden edges all around them. Above is a blanket of thick grey cloud and above this an empty pale blue sky rising into the heavens. On the way to this luxurious scene is a white and blue dappled sea with as usual nothing and no one on it.
To the east from here Benmore rises as always like my daughter Lucy, with a different outfit on. But unlike Lucy it is topped by a huge puffy pink cloud which is rolling gently around the peak of the mountain.
15 minutes later now, as the low sun blazes in through my office door. Across to the horizon and Iona and the southern tip of Mull looks as if it is on fire and looking more and more so with every minute as the setting sun does its best to say ”Look David I am always so beautiful aren’t I”.
And I am enchanted yet again.
We had a great trip yesterday and I had two absolute novices out with me. The girl had a good pair of 8×30 Zeiss binoculars but they were badly adjusted, and a liitle bit dirty, but otherwise when cleaned up they looked brand new and in perfect condition. By the end of the day after struggling early on, my visitors were like well honed wildlife experts spotting this and that and helping me out.
Anyway I can’t remember if it rained but we had some sun and Mull was, let me say, very moody !! A sea eagle flew off the beach at Killiechronan to kick the trip off and as usual hundreds of birds took off as it is safer flying than sitting. It flew across the loch and when I got to the area where it landed I found its mate hiding among some foliage and branches. We also saw slavonian grebes and a few great northern divers, lots of redwings and at last the otter which they wanted to see. We followed him as he wandered among the waves and then climbed onto a small islet looking ‘massive’ and then rolling around and eventually settling to a nap. Big views in 30 minutes now of red deer stags and females and then this shadowy figure sitting on top of the mountain above them, which turned into a golden eagle and which eventually launched off and soared along and above the mountain. Just the hen harrier to try and find now and within 10 minutes there was the harrier quartering the hillside pretty close and eventually scrapping wih two ravens.
All in all then a really good winter trip amid the vast emptiness and spectacle of one of the most varied and empty, yet beautuiful places in the World.
It would not have mattered where you were in the Hebrides today. The sea was flat calm, it was sunny all day, pleasantly warm and winter visitors and wildlife must have had the time of their lives when it is after all November !!!! Our guests went to Tobermory via Calgary and Calliach point today and should have had the most wonderful drive with seascapes and colours coming at them from all angles. As Joy and I did down on Loch na Keal where it was incredibly serene. There were slavonian grebes and the rarer red necked grebe with a youngster there and out on the big shingle beach at Killiechronan one of the adult sea eagles was siitting on an uproated tree, part buried in the shingle. It made for a few good shots virtually in black and white with bright sun and shaded mountains as a background.
It is simply marvellous to head toward December with such weather, because once we get to February the the sun is higher and it can be really good. Be cautious though because yes it’s a fabulous time of year if you get the weather like we have have today, but if you don’t, then its just another wild wild WILD !!! but still beautiful place.
A really lovely day today with sunshine all day and wonderful cloud effects in various layers of grey sitting on a line of bright sunshine over Iona in the distance. Our guests are there today and will have had a super time out on the northern beaches.
On yesterdays trip I ahd another sunny day with a very nice group of visitors. We had red throated, black throated and great northern divers, golden eagles as predicted at Croggan and two seperate otters on either sids of Loch spelve, a distant hen harrier, lots of smaller birds, buckets of buzzards, seals and red deer stags.
I thought I might struggle today as my favourite route of Loch na Keal was blocked by a landslip and I was therefore back to my route of old at Grassppoint , Croggan amd Loch Buie. The places and the wildlife brought back fond memories and I slipped into it all seamlessly, as they say !! Wildlife was where I thought it would be but I did not get time to check on the adders that I knew very well there. Perhaps another time.
I fele thta Mull has a both melancholly and and betfaully meoty feeling at this time of year and the light on sunny days is impooolse ot describe and do justsice too.
What a day it was here in Heaven yesterday, but it has been Hell now since the early hours of this morning, with horizontal rain and wind.
These are the ever entertaining Hebridean Islands of course bobbing out here exposed in the Atlantic. Like all creatures here at such times, we are both fighting and yet adoring Mother Nature and her power over all of us. So !! enough of the poet in me, we can forgive her because we know that when the rain stops and the sun comes out all the waterfalls will be tumbling and eagles will be soaring to dry themslevs off and check their territories out. Just like I do the slates on the roof and whether the dustbin has been blown over by her……. again !!