Today was as sublime a day as Mull can deliver.
All of the mountains across Loch na Keal including Benmore were covered in snow and the sea was as flat as a pancake, making it good otter spotting conditions.
Sure enough there were two otters enjoying this dry and very sunny day, after the wild weather we have all had to suffer. Slavonian grebes, great northern divers, teal and lots of curlews and gulls were just offshore too.
On Lochdon Joy and I called in to see an upholsterer who is looking at re covering our two chaise longue’s and looking back to the mountains and sunny peaks was simply fabulous today. Off then to Grasspoint where like everywhere else it was empty and spectacular, even way across the sea and north to Ben Nevis and more snow capped peaks. Across from the jetty at Grasspoint were basking seals and one of the adult sea eagles enjoying the sun too, before leaping off and racing across the estuary to soar above the hills. Giving me the impression that it was looking for its mate.
Today Mull was simply magical, empty, vast and as always so so colourful.
It feels like last winter shaping up again, when the poor weather went on forever. Today we had it all and I had to cancel going out to check on a dead otter south of Salen with Nigel our otter expert, but we both had to pass on this because of the afternoons snow forecast. we also had to cancel attending our otter groups AGM which was a big disappointment. Though risking getting stuck in snow here would not have been a sensible idea.
However first thing this morning I was on our landing looking out onto the grassland below us and cleaning my teeth at the same time, as you do !! When what looked like a barn owl, being so white, was wafting among the landscape below. It turned out to be a male hen harrier making the most of a not very good window in the weather, but it was wonderful to see him and as always looking so dashing.
Having few wildlife trips at this time does though mean that such bad weather is not ruining my day or the people in my vehicle’s day. Bring on 2016 and sunny Hebridean days I say.
Yes it very wintry now with a lot of rain and misty weather. Ben More is capped with snow. But then it is a Munro and very high !!
Humans and wildlife are ducking and diving in such weather and nothing on land likes rain in Britain, but on the sea no one cares because they are already very wet !
Slavonian grebes are on Loch na Keal, goosanders and mergansers, divers and always lots of geese and gulls, with barn owls in the evenings.
The top view today though as we came down to Killiechronan on our way to Tobermory was 400m offshore, where there has been a large chunk of tree for at least 12 months now and I have a photograph, which might be on my gallery page, of one of the Killiechronan Sea Eagles perched on it. Today was misty but there was still this evocative view of the adult female standing in the water below the tree with her mate on the top branch above her, both of them looking huge. I should have had my camera of course.
Its going to remain unsettled here I think but always stunning as you get a break in the clouds and the sun comes out.
We have just had a terrific sunset above Iona by the way and lots of star filled sky’s lately.
Its only 10.30 and so I had better be careful, unlike last time, when I said it was all very quiet here. The day is still young and I can see Iona peering through the distant mist !!
Never mind today, we have just had a great time in Glasgow doing all sorts of things for Sonny’s 12th birthday. The new Bond film was the best yet, so go and see it ! Unfortunately I came runner up to our daughter Lucy at the bowling alley but I at least beat her boy friend. Sonny was in pretty good form, as was Joy but Charlie struggled and 5 year old Rufus needs a little more practice I think.
I can now see a bit more of Iona and so the eagles will be drying their wings out ready to go. Better clean the binoculars then and be prepared for it and maybe some sunshine ?
Yes here comes Sun !
Rethinking this mornings posting, I have it wrong, when I said there was not much to report and that the Island is empty now.
I forget that it’s all relative isnt it? In that if I lived in a city or suburbia, there probably wouldnt be much to report. But in the Wilds of the Hebrdeian Islands there is always something to report !!
And so it was, with a grey and flat sea on Loch na Keal, as we saw lots of great northern divers and a black throated diver, goosanders, seals, rock doves, redwings, dipper and slavonian grebes. On the other side of the loch I watchd a female hen harrier coming in off the sea to soar above me. Along came a kestrel and they flew around each other until the kestrel suddenly swept repeatedly at something on the hillside, and I know those signs !! I looked carefully at the spot and then saw a few feathers blowing in the wind, which turned into a golden eagle ducking below the kestrels dive. I had a great view of its golden head before it eventually took off and swept fast along the hillside. Now lots of redwings about as we headed toward Gribbun cliffs and from distance I could see the two resident golden eagles soaring over their favourite cliff face, before heading off toward Inch Kenneth, where we then had a sparrowhawk swirling around a hooded crow and then above all of this a sea eagle heading west.
A super few hours then, on a very ‘busy’ Mull !!
Not much to report of late but I think its going to turn into sunshine and showers soon.
I had good views of sea eagle, lots of ravens and gulls, slavonian grebes and the rare but very colourful Jay that we have here. To be plain speaking I think it is probable that they are so much brighter than birds I have seen in England because the atmosphere is so much cleaner here and so they, like our sheep, are much cleaner too.
The Island is very empty now, but there is even beauty in the sense of solitude that this creates. It is also currently very calm and grey all the way across the sea to Iona, which adds to the mysterious feel that you get in the Islands in such conditions.
No wonder the people of the past that lived here were so religious. It is somehow forced upon you to be so.
I am pleased to now report that it has just turned sunny and dry. So I await the eagles, to do their thing !!
Fortunately last weeks storm forecast for our area did not live up to the billing and whilst we had some strong winds it was no big deal and steadilly got better.
Today, Monday, was pretty wild, but so beautiful and inspiring because if it. There’s no doubt at all that bigger birds like eagles love lots of wind. Gulls are the same skipping and skimming along the breaking waves as they did off wild Calliach point this morning. Both eagle species and lots of buzzards were active and clearly having fun all day above the hills behind the house and the drive up deserted Loch na Keal toward equally empty Calgary was simply terrific with short sharp showers lots of wind and lots and lots of sun.
Today Mull was the dazzlingly gorgeous, untamed Island of vast and varied vistas, that caused me to fall in love with it, so many years ago now.
How can somewhere so utterly spectacular and precious have no management or care whatsoever from its government, in this envirornmentally aware age and when such places are disappearing all over the world. Get out there everyone who cares and enjoy it and take care of it, while you still can.
My last day out was Tuesday with four very keen people and their was excitement about possibly seeing otters and hen harriers.
Off to a good start as we left here going down toward Killiechronan. The otter was 25m offshore with the tiny Slavonian Grebes in the background. Problem was we were picking the other two people up at Craignure and I had to go. No sooner were we doing just that, when there was an adult sea eagle tussling with somethng out on the shingle 50m away, its big white tail fanned out and shining as it tried to balance. Suddenly it was off with a small fish, flying low across the shingle headland to land with crows, which as usual will pester them.
Down to Craignure then and the two people had just arrived from the southern tip of Mull for the trip, with a giddy female keen to see hen harriers. She was chuffed then when we found two seperate females at Lochdon and she spotted the first !!
Otters then perhaps now but it was very low tide and one of our group was certain she had glimpsed an otter just by the shore, which we just could not find. However I was just about to leave the area when there it was on top of seaweed rocks with its tail in the air marking its territory.
Lots of seals , divers, a few slavonian grebes, little grebes, very few red deer today but it was very very misty around the hill tops.
Heading for Loch Scridain now and a general check around, when there were the two resident sea eagles, sitting above each other on a tall leafless skinny branch, which happened to be above their old nest site of 2014 and back. It looked like a ‘picket’ and a tip to the RSPB that this is where we are going to be next year. But who knows, they like to build nests !!!
The Island was pretty wild and empty today which has a certain beauty in itself of course.
Just a short entry today, to apologise for the spelling error in yesterdays posting. In that otters do not have a ‘gate’ but they do have a ‘gait’ which is their cute way of walking of course.
Pretty poor weather here right now but this morning it was windy but dry and sea eagles were up above the hill behind the house, along with ravens, buzzards and lots of gulls.
Hope you are all having better weather than us then !
I am sorry for the lack of postings over the last couple of weeks, but even eagles need a rest, having eventually got their youngsters off into the big wide world. We just need to see our 3 children, Lucy, Tim and Sam and 3 lovely grandchildren, when we can !
However I had my last serious wildlife trip on the 27th of October, with more or less a full vehicle and I am naturally apprehensive re the weather and certain wildlife at such a late time in the year. But of course along with my wild friends I usually ‘deliver’ but to to get the big ones is still a real plus.
So off to look for the otters first, with the tide in our favour and after almost giving up, there was this otter with its eye catching gate, wandering around on top of a small seaweed topped boulder. It attracted the usual sighs and fascination from people as they got better sightings in the telescope and it eventually rolled around on its islet and settled to a nap.
Off ro Grasspoint where I have had unusually close encounters with golden eagles there of late. Sure enough it was the same again as one came pretty low across the trees chased by a buzzard. At Grasspoint itself as some of my advanced party caught sight, but unfortunately disturbed another otter, on top of the rocks there. He was soon away but seen at least by a few.
On to Eagle country and mountainous Glenmore and sea eagles and then golden eagles chasing them off their territory. Just about to head out of the glen and we had a female hen harrier and handsome, but brief, male gliding along the hillside.
A very good day then at a tough time of year.