We have had all of Mother Natures elements thrown at us this last week but thankfully sunshine has been the dominant one, though usually with a very cold wind.
Today starts with another luxuriant look from here, with snow topped peaks and the landscape below and sea bathed in sun and thankfully lighter winds today.
None of the above has reduced our sightings though, with Iceland gull, male and female harriers passing prey to each other, or not, short eared owls, various otters with múm an two cubs on a small islet yesterday at Garmony. Sea eagles, thousands of wheatears, meadow pipits and skylarks, great northern divers and slavonian grebes, whinchats and stonechats and of course all the more regular birds, plus seals and red deer. Golden eagles have been really hard to find this week as they do not like these very cold winds, but with every day getting longer and sunnier activity will increase.
Off now on another trip and hopefully another keen group !!
Yes its been a simply wonderful period of weather , nice visitors and wildlife, in the last week. With virtually no wind at all, which as all know is not very Hebridean !! Since we took our grandchildren back to Glasgow and drove over Rannoch Moor and through Glencoe amid stunning scenes it has been as good as it can get.
On my wildlife trips in the last week we have had a number of hen harrier sightings, including the flamboyant passing of prey to each other which they are famed for. Short eared owls are showing, as are slavonian grebes in their exotic summer plumage, along with lots of great northern divers, almost all now in breeding plumage. We have seen otters more or less each trip, white tailed sea eagles and golden eagles and the excitement and high drama whenever they are around. Had an Iceland gull on Loch na Keal, more drama from peregrines on the sea cliffs, the backside of dolphins leaving Craignure, yellowhammers, snipe, wheatears galore, pipits, shellduck, goosanders and mergansers, rock doves, more kestrels this year, sparrowhawk, red deer and lots more. However as usual Mull itself steals the show again and looking from here one still morning, as the seamist cleared, there were snow dappled peaks and black and gold seacliffs and landscape with irregular pools of sun looking like melting gold.
Yes it has been visually awesome this week.
Not on a trip yesrday but we did take the grandchildren to Carsaig looking for saphires and fossils on the big grey sand beach there, as we regularly did with our 3 children when they were similar ages. I remember picking up an amber bead from the sand which fuelled my vivid imagination. I also remember some article in the Times about a visitor finding a sapphire the size of his thumbnail, probably in the same area. No doubt his imagination was also fuelled and possibly his bank ballance !!
I have said this before and it probably applies to most of Mull in truth. However, I suggest that if you were given a blank canvas and asked to design the perfect place, it would probably be Carsaig and perfection was delivered again in glorious sunshine and no one about. Seals were basking on the rocks and I thought I saw two fishermen on the small islets offshore until I realised that it was two sea eagles !!. Off to the grey sand beach then and in 30 minutes coming in low from out at sea, came two sea eagles[ possibly the first two ] gliding over the tops of the conifers. One a young male and the other an adult female, which then put up a resident golden eagle and they soared low and together against the backdrop of golden craggs and pine forest, before heading south along the coast.
Leaving Carsaig in the afternoon an otter was just off the pier there which swam toward the basking seals.
Today is also the most vivid light and clear blue sky and sea which I believe is going to continue.
I think that apart from gorgeous weather we saw most things today.
A n otter straight off, for some time on Loch na Keal, along with summer plumage great northern divers, same with slavonian grebes with their trendy red and yellow head gear. Another otter doing what they did last year, in spending leisure time on Scarisdale Rocks 200m offshore with the seals before the rising tide knocks them off !!
Wheatears, rock and meadow pipits, curlews and buzzards of course, sparrowhawks, ravens, both seal species, red deer etc.
Leaving the National Scenic Area we found an adult white tailed sea eagle on top of some dead trees which gave good views in the telescope before a change over at the nest, then one of them rising above us until it was in the clouds. In Glenmore we had both harriers flying and landing, two immature sea eagles and a golden eagle at last, around the mountains of Ben Taladh with another female harrier there. Latterly then my first short eared owl of this season which gave long term views left and right of the road.
I call the above a good day don’t you ?.
Some good days out lately with lovely weather and sightings. The White Tailed Sea Eagles have been performing, both flying and sitting. Golden Eagles were also pretty good and close. Of course one should only see a single bird of prey right now as their partner should be on eggs at the nest. Peregrines are the same and were making their usual racket on the sea cliffs across the loch from here. Slavonian Grebes are now in summer plumage and off to Iceland shortly I guess. Great Northern Divers are here in high numbers and should also be in summer plumage soon.
Otters are historically a bit quiet, but still seen during April, but who knows why this is ?? I was struggling for an otter on my last trip but thought a check across Loch Beg might pay off and there breezing along just off the opposite shore it looked like a seal, as it was not showing its tail as it dived and it also looked big around the head. After following it for about 10 minutes it wandered onshore with a fish !! I then realised it was the very big male that I have seen a few times in the past doing slightly unusual things.
Very encouraging are the regular sightings of male and female Hen Harriers on their usual sites. On the last trip we had such an evocative view of them circling a few feet off the yellow grassy ground in Glenmore with dark conifers behind them and brilliant sunshine shining from behind and through their plumage. Both birds looked almost transparent and unearthly as they wheeled around each other, landing on the ground and landing in the conifers occasionally . A top encounter then with this ghostly creature that started me bird watching when we lived in the Berwyn Mountains of North Wales..
Yes more fabulous weather here and I know for certain that lots of wild creatures and locals are really pleased about that, after the dreadful winter we had.
On yesterdays trip we had an otter on Loch na Keal, another on Loch Scridain, lots of great northern divers with some now close to full summer plumage, slavonian grebes, goldeneyes, eiders, wheatears, stonechats, super views of golden and sea eagles, with a gang of around 9 young sea eagles and a golden eagle soaring around the peaks in Glenmore, red deer of course, peregrine falcon, buzzards, ravens, around a hundred barnacle geese, but no hen harriers. It was however an enthusiastic crowd with children and we encountered lots of regular visitors that I know, on our journey around the Island. One little girl on the trip said ”Do you know everyone here David ” !!
I am lumping the last two days together. When we had otters both days, but a really big otter sighting today as we followed a female otter along the shore, when she suddenly skipped onshore and headed up a small stream toward us. Not pausing for a moment and with her typical otter gate she walked in front of everyone about 10ft away, went under a fence and into a wood where I had seen her go, probably to her two cubs, a few weeks earlier. This was a really close otter sighting.
Lots of eagle sightings both days i.e up with buzzards and ravens, swooping up and down and sitting on a hilside and chasing other golden eagles off. Hen harriers with the male doing his sky dance and the female watching, dippers, more grey wagtails this year, a bat and even a short tailed vole, which is everyones favourite meal, slavonian grebes in summer plumage, lost of great northern divers, eiders, mergansers, rock pipits, wheatears. etc
However the big sighting today was the incredibly visual scene that we had this morning, with snow capped benmore, brilliant sunshine and the flatest sea. Visually Mulls natural environment was as magical as it could possibly get today.
I had a full vehicle on Wednesday and more good sightings. Most of us saw the otter at Craignure who was behaving like a highland cow i.e. looking as if he was planted by The Scottish Tourist Board !
Off to Grasspoint and we had no sooner crossed the lovely ancient bridge there when a male hen harrier came gliding across the road and we all got out and had good views. I like Grasspoint which is always full of potential but I can’t say that we saw much except gannets offshore, razorbills and great northern diver. Stonechat on the way and more of them later. The Croggan golden eagles were up but distant as was a hen harrier. Into eagle country and Glenmore where we saw all three territories of golden eagles which are always exciting to me personally as they sweep off the skyline and soar above. Red deer of course today both stags with antlers and females with last years young. More great northern divers and super view of a sitting white tailed sea eagle. Rock doves again, ravens always, red breasted mergansers, eiders and happy customers again.
We had every sort of weather that Mother Nature could throw at us on yesterdays trip, via hail, snow, clear blue sky, brilliant sun, crashing waves and violent wind and no wind at all, and more. However we still had a really good day for sightings.
An otter with two cubs straight off, great nprthern divers and then an adult sea eagle above us heading across Loch na Keal and putting up the golden eagles on the other side, slavonian grebes in winter and summer plumage, teal, lots of common gulls, goldeneye, red breasted mergansers, rock doves and then the adult male sea eagle returning to this side of Loch na Keal. Off to the other side of the loch and wheatears, skylarks and meadow pipits, ravens and around a hundred barnacle geese. Into Glen Seilesdair and a young sea eagle sitting close in a tree, more great northern divers then a ringtail hen harrier in Glenmore in driving wind and sleet, lots of red deer. Under Ben Taladh we stopped to look for golden eagles and immediately had a good view of the male hen harrier and then a golden eagle coming from a mile out and going right over us and onto Ben Taladh and then circling with a sea eagle. Down to Lochdon and a female harrier dancing along on our right.