There is no doubt whatsoever that the sorts of visitors that Mull and the West Coast attracts is very much based on the seosons of the year.
Early Spring and Summer everyone has binoculars and many have telescopes as well. They are very keen and absolutely on the ball regarding spotting wildlife. Whereas at this time of year very few have binoculars and are not at all ‘on the ball’ because they are usually just ‘looking for something to do’. and almost always book at the last minute usually for a weekend only trip, for some reason ?? What’s wrong with the rest of the week ??
Yesterday we had a few sightings of hen harriers, lots of gannets diving, goosanders, greenshank redshank, lots of scotchargos butterflies, numerous seals and another ‘romantic’ sighting of a golden eagle in the centre of Glenmore as it glided along a craggy mountain face pestered by ravens. We had another on a different territory that flew and then alighted with ravens scattered around it and one or two on my trip had that evocative view of a golden eagle silhouetted on the skyline before it flew off again. We also had numerous kestrels and red deer stags with females and on the way back to Craignure I found the osprey again sitting in one of its favourite places and finally the otter all wanted to see, at Craignure itself.
I had two very keen people with me yesterday and a family of eight who I am sure will forgive me if i comment on the reality that they had no binoculars at all and were clearly not so use to looking for and at wildlife ! However I got them coached up and just about had enough binoculars to loan them. The weather didnt help initially and was coming from all sorts of directions. I am sure our wildlife had as much of a problem as myself in trying to predict where and when it might be dry.
However a glimpse of a female harrier at grasspoint, lots of red deer, gannets, redshank, greenshank, goosanders and numerous smaller birds including a numer of stonechats.
lots of seals also today and very good to see the Glenmore golden eagles showing more regularly.This time up with young sea eagles. We also had an osprey again near the grasspoint bridge and as people know this is big occasion for Mull with ospreys summering here this year. Lets hope everyone gets their finger out and creates a nesting platform for them.
I forgot the lizard the other day and the bat that has twice shown in the evening in our lounge. The grandchildrens fishing net came in handy as I chased the bat around in my black housecoat looking like something out of Harry Potter!
Mull is aptly named Eagle Island and yesterday proved the point.
Start of the trip we had an otter at Craignure, an adult sea eagle at Lochdon gliding along the estuary and scattering everything before it and then landing in a tree. At Grasspoint lots of seals, goosanders, greenshank, redshank and flocks of smaller birds and gannets. One of the Lochdon Ospreys high up at the three lochs in Glenmore and then a number of young sea eagles interracting with each other along the mountain ridges with red deer below them.
Best I think was more red deer stags as we went down toward Pennyghael, with a golden eagle gliding up and down the mountainside and among them, showing the considerable size of an adult golden eagle against the size of Britains largest land mammal the red deer stag. Evocative and even poetic moments always for me, with golden eagles amid the mountains of central Mull.
I had people out with me today who have been with me on previous trips and it was a truly fullsome day for them and me.
As I set off today a hen harrier sailed over the house. On the way down Loch na Keal was as beautiful as it could be and the same on the way home. There is nowhere in Britain to even come close to the Hebridean Islands of Western Scotland for sheer grandeur and variety of scenery.
First stop was just over the bridge at Grasspoint as adult sea eagles wheeled over the estuary across the water, while another settled on a small hill. Lots of Kestrels about and behind us, yet another sighting of osprey as it sat on a post in the middle of a shallow river, with greenshanks nearby. At Grasspoint lots of seals waiting for the rising tide to lift them off a small lislet.
A stop for coffee and scones and a female hen harrier below us and beyond the sitting osprey. Male hen harrier as we approached Loch Spelve with more seals on another small islet, a sparrowhawk and more kestrel sightings.
Into Glenmore and a number of young sea eagles with a golden eagle. Another male harrier there and a big sighting of the two adult golden eagles coming from the top of the mountains to soar above us with ravens cronking. Gannets diving in Loch Scridain and close !! Finally another male harrier at Lochdon and a female sitting on a post.
Numerous kestrels today with two having a ding dong with the golden eagles.
Today was so fullsome that I have almost certainly forgotten some sightings.
Its good to be back on breathtaking Mull but it was also good to be away and seeing how the other half live !!
We had a number of stops on the way South to see our son Sam’s new cottage near Cambridge and stayed in their village in a big colonial style house which was full of things from the past. Genuinely fascinating. Their village nestled along a meandering river with hundreds of trees and hidden green spaces. The upper class feel was pervasive as is the softness of life there after the drama of these dynamic Hebridean islands.
I met a chap in an antique shop in this little village who had been out with me on a wildlife trip some years ago. Small world of course. Joy and Sam had a flying lesson and whilst I don’t mind flying generally I thtnk we humans are not meant to fly and in one of these little planes I would feel like I was on the back of a sea eagle. Which might be fun until it got hungry I suppose??
I saw little wildlife during hundreds of miles of travelling but the weather was very warm until we headed home in driving wind and rain. The spray chucked up by lorries is so dangerous and more should be done to move products, machinery etc by train, or even sea, as we did in the past.
I have my first trip tomorrow since coming back and always look forward to them no matter what time of year it is. Eagles are the same! They would like posh England, but not to live there. Its not exciting enough !!
I am afraid that my diary page will be out of action for around 10 days.
People from England, China, Canada and Holland today. So what’s new !!
We started at Craignure with bottlenosed dolphins offshore doing their stuff. Up the road ot look for them again and otters. Sure enough we got both species from Garmony with 4 otters and lots of dolphins which were well out.
Back toward Grasspoint and a great view of an osprey there sitting on a post by the river. Red deer there also, black guillemots off Grasspoint , gannets, shags but no sea eagles. Until we returnd to the glenmore road and a very good view of a female hen harrier quartering the ground until it settled in the vegetation. Further on two or three white tailed sea eagles high above us, but then one suddenly very low down with a heron as seals watched from their little islet. The sea eagle settled but behind us the much sought after male hen harrier was in the air for some time both high and low and seemingly looking for his female or maybe their dispersing young.
Into Glenmore itself now and a golden eagle soaring high and then going away. Coming back toward Craignure we had a female harrier romping across the road and away to where her mate had been showing earlier.
A good day for all in glorious warm weather.
Another very good trip with enthusiastic people and lots of sightings.
Up to Garmony then to try and get a good start with otters. Sure enough we found one that then fell asleep just up from the shoreline with the tide rising, but we had to move on. At Craignure we had another just off the old pier by the campsite. We also had glimpses of porpoise beyond the otter.
At Grasspoint we had an all dark Skua chasing a smaller bird for some time and I am still not sure which Skua it was. We also saw a distant golden eagle, lots of buzzards, black guillemots, gannet, shags, seals, female red deer, willow warbler and spotted flycatcher etc.
Leaving Grasspoint we had long term views of a female hen harrier and across the grassland and alighting on a short post, another Osprey. Above us came a very low white tailed sea eagle which circled up and up mobbed by a male hen harrier until another adult sea eagle arrived to circle also. A few seals were relaxing and watching events there, before a female hen harrier carrying prey, flew across the road and into the hills, no doubt looking for her yougsters.
Into Glenmore to look for golden eagles and a very distant one which showed, as two, possibly three sea eagles, drifted through its territory.
On the way back to Craignure we spotted another sea eagle gliding over the top of a hill.
Poor weather again here yesterday but how often such days turn into good wildlife days?
I kicked off chasing a dry slot at Grasspoint before the rain and no sooner over the old Grasspoint bridge when we all saw a colourful female harrier working its way along the grassland by the road. As she drifted behind a low hill, there was the Osprey sitting on a short post seemingly back again and not yet heading for Africa after all. I was chuffed ! Not much at grasspoint however but black guillemots, red deer, lots of shags and terns, ravens and then the rain.
This lasted until Loch na Keal when it did brighten and we saw one of the sea eagles sitting in the trees. Round to the other side of the loch, fallow deer on the way and scones and coffee or tea !!
Along the loch now looking for otters and seemingly missed 3 on Scarisdale rocks in very wet weather. However under calm Gribbun Cliffs we had big views of a female otter with a youngster direcetly below us.
Today is fine and calm all day and so my next group will be in a good mood and not be soaking wet today.
Golden eagles seem to be recovering from the diabolical weather of winter and early summer and back on my regular seeing list.
However we kicked off with a male harrier at Grasspoint and later a female harrier dancing over the grassland below us and in and out of a group of red deer stags and females. The BBC wildlife cameramen should have been there !
There seems to me to have been an unusually large number of terns around Mull this year and maybe the feeding is just very good. Lots of buzzards, ravens various gulls and many smaller birds now fledged and on the move in very good weather here.
Stopping for lunch in Glenmore we had an adult white Tailed Sea Eagle coming from distance and going along a ridge and toward Loch Buie. Down to Pennyghael to have a look for otters and as soon as I pulled off the road just to scan the area, there was an otter 25m away looking over the seaweed, then its growing cub splashing around in a small seaweed pool with some hooded crows. People want to see otters !!! and the Italians I had with me are no exception. Are otters extinct in Italy I wonder?
Homeward toward Craignure and a stop in Glenmore to look for golden eagles. Delight for me then as we saw the two adults there swirling around a mountain top for a few minutes.