I guess lots of people around Britain saw the Super Moon at around 4pm this morning ? I certainly did, but Joy has been at a family funeral in Sheffield for a few days and so missed it and today was also a very atmospheric day on the wildlife trip.
As I do this diary posting at 7.30pm we are completely surrounded by blue and purple sky, streaked in different shades of red as the sun starts to go down in the west and behind us even in the east, it is still the same and probably the most spectacular sky we have had since we moved over to Mull’s magical west coast around 12 years ago.
It was a tough day on the trip today but we saw an adult and young sea eagle siitting north of Craignure, two or three sightings of male hen harrier, both species of seals and red deer stags with their harems. Amid the mountains of Glenmore the wind direction felt right for goldlen eagles there and a few minutes later, and as I spotted a huge mature stag, the two resident golden eagles from that territory broke the skyline as only golden eagles can do and swooped together before racing off to where we were going, but could I find them again?
As I watch the red sky disappearing now I have a feeling that tommorow morning may be an equally magical sunrise.
It is hard for me to now resist Lochdon and Grasspoint as a good start to one of my trips these days. However the ospreys are away to Africa now.
It was a good choice yet again, for as we came over the beautiful old bridge straddling the river on Friday we found 3 golden eagles soaring above us. We also had young and female harriers there too. In fact we encountered a number of harriers yesterday. It seemed that wherever I waved my hand as a good spot we got what we were looking for. Even the tough little stonechats delivered near to Grasspoint. Lots of red deer there and then an adult white tailed eagle. Its back shining in the very bright sunshine as it flew very low with seemingly a real purpose across the flatland after the Grasspoint turnoff and suddenly swung down and alighted where Loch Spelve becomes a small river. The sea eagle watched and was probably waiting for a fish to swim up it. Though as I so often repeat, they are not that bothered about fish and I challenge anyone to show me a picture of a sea eagle [ not an African fish eagle ] taking a live fish and not one of the rigged pictures set up for photographers, of the eagle coming down for a dead fish !
Whilst we watched the seals and the sea eagle I caught a movement to my left and there was an otter heading for shore with something bigger than a butterfish which is their favourite prey. Eventually it was off but we found it again 20 minutes later fishing away.
Into Glenmore for more golden eagle chances and the two BenTaladh birds were gliding and soaring across the glen. Red deer stags were in Glenmore and looking keen !! Last bit of the day we had another adult sea eagle sitting on an islet north of Craignure.
Again I felt I had to kick off and try and find otters before moving on but I couldnt find them at Garmony which is my current hotpsot….. But watch this space !!
Off to Lochdon and as usual a lot of kestrel and buzzard sightings this year and with misty high peaks occasionaly bathing themselves in bright sunshine, it looked good. However we had to get to Grasspoint before we watched a female hen harrier searching the landscape for short tailed voles. We also had a good view of the same bird later. Coming away from Grassppoint a male harrier slid across the road and on his way along the hillside, which we saw again later in the day with another female harrier.
Mountainous Glenmore delivered today as I got out of the vehicle to check a glen for stags and which is between two golden eagle territories, when an eagle broke the skyline and rapidly became a young sea eagle. Golden eagles were then up with it and as it flew over us and across another glen to another golden eagle territory, it put up the golden eagles there and one of them rushed along the hillside chasing the sea eagle before landing.
!5 minutes further on we had 3 more young sea eagles which entertained with their talon grappling and engagement with each other.
At Pennyghael no otters but the young golden eagle from Carsaig.
Finally after dropping most people but for four off at Craignure we found an otter on an islet at Garmony on the way home, which was pretty happy it seemed interacting with two hooded crows.
Another good day and a round of applause from everyone on the trip !
Nver mind Mulls willdlife, today the whole island was magical. Particularly the National Scenic Area on the west coast. It was as good as it gets to look at. We should all in fact, have been in the sea off Mull’s southern white sandy beaches on such a day.
However I had to move on and collect my guests from Craignure at 10.30. And a great crowd they were with lots of questions to ask and a willingness to learn about spotting wildlife in The Hebridean Islands.
So Garmony it was to look for for otters and we got one straight off but well offshore, but looking like he might come inshore. He duly changed his mind having now caught a large flatfish and headed down the coast a few hundred yards. He then went under the seaweed wrestling with his fish and into a small bay where we watched him munching away for some time.
Off to Grasspoint next but not a lot happening except a fleeting hen harrier and buzzards soaring. However we glimpsed porpoise off the point.
Into Glenmore to look for golden eagles and I duly impressed everyone as I spotted a golden eagle surveying his domain on top of a small cairn sillhouetted on the skyline, before launching off.
We also had a few red deer with a stag also, wandering along the skyline.
First off, a really close, big young sea eagle, gliding along the trees at the ferry point having put up lots of gulls over the Sheilings campsite, on its way toward us.
On the way to Grasspoint we had a distant sea eagle up with other birds of prey and further on another pretty close adult sea eagle, again low down against the trees and then sliding over the hill. At Grasspoint itself we were very close to a male otter, gannets offshore still and lots of gulls and the odd tern.
Onward then and we now found a beautiful male hen harrier quartering the hillside. Another one came into view missing a feather from his tail. Maybe pulled off by the other male !
Now wandering through spectacular Glenmore with mist and sun taking it in turns to show, we came down to Pennyghael and I was pleased to see two adult golden eagles above us with their youngster all chasing off a young sea eagle.
Heading back through the glen I spotted my two golden eagle friends surveying their domain on top of a hill, just behind a large boulder. My own eagle eyesight at finding these duly impressed all of my customers.
Glorious sunny weather as most of my customers know is not the best for looking for wildlife, as wild creatures are like us and go lazy on such days. However its a lot better than rain all day and fortunately we are in a spell of super weather.
My job is also not to amuse myself on the trips but find our top creatures for my customers, and so have another go at the otters on the way to Craignure. Sure enough there was Mum with an advancing youngster catching butterfish on a millpond of a sea.
20 minutes later two distant adult sea eagles and their youngster sitting on top of some islets. The young sea eagle from Lochdon area was also up with a few buzzards and then we went down to Grasspoint to look for adults. I spotted a couple of gulls diving at something by the waterline and there was an adult sea eagle looking bright and big. 50m out into the loch there was the other adult on top of some boulders.
Up the road now and a male hen harrier quartering the hillside and an adult female and young harrier interracting 100m away. Into Glenmore and another male harrier kestrels, ravens, red deer and buzzards.
Have to get the golden eagles next time !!
I have been so busy that I have kept putting off doing a diary posting for last Thursdays trip. So I will do my best to now remember what happened.
I do remember we had 3 otters early on in choppy water and them splitting up and then 400m down the road we had one on a small islet which delivered that evocative otter silhouette, as it stood on top of the islet and marked its territory with its droppings, before swimming off.
We also had big and long term views of one of the ospreys at Lochdon, which doesnt seem to like the idea of going to Africa at present. But after gorgeous Mull, who would?
Two separate views of hen harriers, seals and red deer and high sea eagles over Ben Taladh. Into the somewhat misty depths of Glenmore and an equally high golden eagle coming off one mountain peak without a flap of its wings and then headed over us to the top of another high peak on its territory.
Along the way that day we had rock doves, buzzards, kestrels, scotch argus butterfies etc and thankfully I just about got all of our big ones !! Which is of course what visitors really want to see here. As we did in India and saw a tiger and off the Californian coast when we had two incredible days with blue whales.
If this weather keeps up I’m going to be doing snorkelling trips instead of wildlife because it would be perfect for this off the southern coastline of Mull right now.
Anyway !! I had to have another go at Otters for our first big sighting of the day yesterday and there it was, asleep on a small islet. It hlelped us that it was showing more than the normal white from under its chin and being very dry and a warm fluffy brown. It did the usual otter things wandering around and marking its territory before dropping into the sea. We also had one of the ospreys again very distant at ,lochdon on a pole but when we got to the area we could find find neither the bird, nor the pole !!
Fantastic very close sighting of an adult peregrine falcon, standing on a black headed gull which it had just killed and as we watched, it began plucking feathers and was still doing it an hour later as more people stopped to see it. It must have made for super photographs for some people.
In Glenmore an adult male hen harrier circled above us, red deer stags were on the mountainside and 5 minutes further on an adult white tailed sea eagle climbed above us as one of the resident golden eagles broke the nearby skyline and chased it off through low clouds.
It’s yet another wonderful start to a day here, with a flat sea and the early morning sun blazing onto golden headlands and the peak of Benmore sunny and rising above huge and complex puffy clouds to create an alien world in the sky.
Yesterday I had more ‘Majestic Line’ people on a trip, which is something I do roughly every two months. They have two converted trawlers and it all seems very classy !!
I thought I would try and get otters off their chests first and duly found mum and a cub off Garmony. Further down we had a Sea Eagle in a tree and lots of seals offshore. Down to Grasspoint and a young sea eagle distant and high up, with a a few other birds pestering it. One of the adults from the area was sitting on a headland across the water but only a few of my people caught the male hen harrier dancing as he does across the grassland near the eagle. He was suddenly down and away in a straight line with his prey. In April and May this usually means I am off to give this to my girlfriend !! However this is now getting very late for that, so who knows?
Nice views of stonechats, butterflies and flowers in the sun as we headed for Glenmore to look for golden eagles and red deer. We quickly got the deer and then a golden eagle came pretty low across the glen chased by a buzzard and had obviously been sitting across on the other side of the glen while we looked at red deer. Big view then and later in the day we had it again with its mate soaring along and landing on the hillside as we headed out of Glenmore.
Our weather thas been very good of late but today it has been moody and misty here but brilliant sunshine right now from my office.
What an eagle sighting yesterday on the trip as we had just crossed the old bridge to Grasspoint. Two Golden Eagles were right on the edge of their territory on a cold but sunny northerly wind and were as close as anyone could hope to get to a pair of adult Golden Eagles, as they swept along the grassland 50m away and repeatedly soared high in the sky, only to sweep down again.
In the same area at the end of the day we had a similar striking encounter as we scanned across the grassland and found a very colourful female hen harrier tangling repeatedly with a hooded crow both in the air and on the ground, with neither prepared to give way.
‘Evocative’ was the next encounter with Eagles as we scanned the hills for Red Deer stags, when behind us two Golden Eagles were rushing along the mountainside and perhaps chasing prey, I thought, but no they were simply disturbed that a young sea eagle was on their same mountain and having taken the hint it flew off toward Ben Taladh.
We also had rock doves, which are rare in Britain but plentiful here this year, possibly because of Peregrines having a bad breeding season and therefore not eating so many of them !!
We had lots pf the obvious sightings but the Golden Eagles were so exciting and close that it has fogged my memory of the day.
Who cares? Golden Eagles are the king of birds and an inspiration to me and John Denver !! As one of his songs goes ”Sometimes I fly like an Eagle and sometimes I’m deep in despair”.
IN my case its usually because of my species always being such a disappointment to me !