Here on Mull we saw nothing of the heavy rain and driving winds of southern England and today the Island is again sunny, windless and ridiculously beautiful, as it has been for some time now. It’s all about the Jet stream as usual and the easterly winds in the Spring in Britain, when we are protected by the rest of the country.
Yesterday’s wildlife trip was another top day out with numerous hen harriers, both male and female and both species of eagle also being pretty visible. We had not see an otter and so I had a quick look at Loch Beg where we spotted 3 great northern divers and behind them, by chance, an otter rolling around on shore and then having a sleep.
Needless to say and as always, I cannot list all the other species that we see because my visitors want to see our top end creatures and I can’t look for, or at, every wild thing on the island.
Just a chance by the way that we had what was possibly the two Lochdon Osprey’s coming high toward Lochdon from the mountains, but no guarantees as yet. However short eared owls are continuing to be seen in that area also.
Another good wildlife trip for all of us yesterday and we saw a white tailed sea eagle very early on which launched off a tree nearby, flashing his brilliant white tail and head against the backdrop of Mulls mountains as a buzzard also soared with it just to make the point that the eagle was on its own territory.
Shortly after we had one of those super views of a brilliant white hen harrier quartering the landscape looking for voles. A few red deer in the same area and we did have two monarch of the glen images of two separate red deer stags with full antlers on top of two mountain’s opposite each other, later in the day.
In Glenmore looking for eagles it was visually spectacular and empty, with snow dappled mountains and dazzling sun. Up on our right two golden eagles were soaring and displaying to each other. In another 20 minutes 3 eagles were high above and drifting in and out of mist shrouded peaks and after a very close view an adult golden eagle and white tailed sea eagle flee over us above Mulls highest road and we deduced that the sea eagle had been invading the golden eagles territory and had to be dealt with.
Lots of great northern divers now whilst we were on the way to our National Scenic Area, where I hoped to see peregrine falcons and I duly impressed everyone as I spotted one sitting on the top of the cliffs.
Today, Easter Monday, is wonderfully calm again and Mull is at peace with itself. The views from the house are as usual stunning in all directions and off to our left Benmore is kissed by light clouds and dappled with snow.
After a tip off from a friend we are off to find short eared owls on tomorrows trip. Will I see my little blue merlin in that area again though?
The Met office have admitted to me in the past that Mull’s unique and varied landscapes make it very difficult for them to give an accurate weather forecast and today illustrates this yet again because again we have mirror calm seas, little wind, no rain and frankly it would have been a perfect day for a wildlife trip!
Yesterday I had a vehicle full of very enthusiastic customers.
The challenge for me was again the weather forecast which painted a gloomy picture by early afternoon and as it turned out we had very good weather until about 4pm. Like an eagle I am forced into finding the best weather in order to maximise sightings and so forecasts can dictate my journey. However my judgement was pretty good on this iffy weather day, when I found a sea eagle for everyone in just the right place to kick off the trip. We then had a female harrier and lots of red deer including 4 stags still with antlers running along the hillside in a very nervous way.
With the negative weather forecast in my head, yet looking at pretty good weather in distant Glenmore, it felt good for Golden eagles and sure enough one was swirling around the Ben Taladh area some distance away and then landing. Despite getting closer to the area we could not find it again, but behind us we did spot a male and a female hen harrier together which had we think just past prey. Deeper into Glenmore now and if I may say, excellent judgement on my part, as we glimpsed a golden eagle drifting around some crags and from then on it gave super and dramatic views as it eventually carried prey or nest material into a pretty certain nest site, that was new to me for these particular birds.
Out of Glenmore now and onto flatter marshy ground and a really good sighting of a very white male hen harrier carrying prey and in a hurry.
On the way home great northern divers still in winter plumage.
Yesterday was yet another super wildlife trip, that only Mull can deliver.
Calm seas made for another good otter spotting day with a female and small cub off Grasspoint. An adult sea eagle was sitting in an unexpected place and great northern divers were again regular around the island. As misty peaks cleared in Glenmore a golden eagle drifted over us and landed on the skyline to give good views in my telescope.
We had male and female hen harriers together, with the male looking particularly bright and always handsome of course.
So plenty of top sightings, but for me the day began brilliantly with a young sea eagle sitting in a small shallow river and closer too us was a male Merlin sitting on a fence post. He must have known he was my favourite bird, bur rare to see, as he did lots of acrobatic things in chasing a bird and rushing over us and around us at terrific speed. He regularly alighted and was bright and colourful, but tiny, being Europe’s smallest bird of prey.
My own day was made by keen customers and this rare for me encounter with the little blue Merlin.
It was a top quality wildlife trip in all respects yesterday.
My visitors were very enthusiastic, focused and appreciative., The whole Island was very calm and dry yet again and this morning looks like the same from my office for todays trip.
So kicking off we had goldeneye’s, lots of great northern divers, slavonian grebes. Over to the southern shore of Loch na Keal and a golden eagle on high soaring and doing its swooping up and down display to eventually sweep downward at great speed with legs out and wings in and then alight in a significant place whilst its mate took its turn at soaring high above the mountain.
Along the coast and more divers, grebes, mergansers and goosanders both male and female. Top sighting then of a female otter and her two excitable cubs eating, playing and doing their best to stay on a tiny islet washed by a rising tide, before swimming to another larger islet with seals on it, to continue having fun.
On toward Gribbun and a big view of a golden eagle sitting majestically on the skyline , calling and repeatedly flying and landing. Further on, peregrine’s calling, flying and mating.
30 minutes on toward loch Scridain and we had the two resident white tailed sea eagles interacting with tiny looking buzzard’s, compared with the eagles.
Into Glenmore and a female harrier flying over us and further on a male hen harrier gliding at pace over a group of red deer just below the skyline and then over our heads to hunt on the hillside behind us.
Above this there was one of the resident golden eagles surveying its domain and which looked great in the telescopes.
Yesterday it seemed that wherever we stopped there was something very interesting to see. Even almost home I had 30 great northern divers together in a long parade behind each other.
I have a trip today and was up this morning early and woken by a brilliant red sky at around 6.30am.
It is the most serene sight again here with the entire Hebridean Sea just like glass. The long dry spell has given us this golden landscape rolling out from the house toward the sea, with a dozen munching sheep, having their breakfast. Benmore is still lightly dusted with snow but it may go today if this warmer weather continues.
Today I feel like the entire wonderful, magical island is my Oyster and I wish I could be in lots of different places today from the top of the island to the very bottom. Which as many of you know means I would cover most of the natural habitats that you can think of.
All I need now are some very ‘up for it’ and enquiring, keen wildlife enthusiasts !
Today was consumed by cleaning up after the plumbers had emptied and refilled our underfloor heating system, which had been steadily slowing down because it had not been serviced and the underfloor piping cleaned out for about 12 years.
It feels good now to know that it is back to its very efficient self.
The rest of my day was taken over by my attending a Mull Otter Group [ check the MOG website ] committee meeting at Salen and where individual members take it in turns to provide lunch which is always very nice indeed. As it was today.
By the way looking out and our over the head of our chairperson Jane I spotted an adult Sea eagle with a big white tail not far away and low down battling with some buzzards.
Tonight I am looking out to another gorgeous sunset with a pale green sky steadily sinking behind the Isle of Ulva.
Mull and the other Hebridean Islands are truly romantic places and like all artistic natured individuals I am romantic and so Mull bewitches me and always will.
Well it was good to be back in the swing of things yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed checking on how things were with eagles, harriers etc.
I had some people from New Jersey with me and their friend from The Scottish Borders.
It was flat calm and lovely varying weather to create activity and was probably why we saw so many hen harriers. In fact I stopped counting after a while.
Wild creatures are more intelligent that most people realise of course and the hen harrier is no exception. They are virtually extinct now as a breeding bird in England and heavily persecuted on mainland Scotland also. I am pretty convinced that their intelligence will tell them and their friends, that The Isle of Mull has no persecution of birds of prey because we don’t have grouse moors where estates poison and shoot them and so they can rear their young and live in relative peace here.
After great northern and red throated diver sightings we were off to look for white tailed eagles but we had just a short glimpse of a youngster being chased by lots of noisy gulls. Golden eagles were on territory in Glenmore with a male being chase by a raven there. On my favourite territory of all we had brilliant views of an adult sitting on the nearby skyline before heading south, probably to check its territory out for possible intruders.
We had only one very fleeting otter but lots of other sightings of various birds, red deer and a hundred seals basking.
Today is another windless day and if boats were operating I would think a very good day for looking for cetaceans.
Back home on Mull now after hundreds of miles of travelling around Britain seeing our children and grandchildren and I do have to admit that there is something very comforting and posh about it down there. It’s also very very wooded, which the Hebridean islands are not. Yes we have some woodland and some of the coastal woods are romantically called ‘temperate’ rainforest. By all intents and purposes the wet and hanging mosses and lichens feel as if you are in tropical rainforests which we have experienced in the tropics and actually it’s a bit of a red herring to assume that tropical rainforest’s are teeming with life. The foliage is so dense that it’s pretty difficult to see wildlife, though the sound of monkeys in the canopy is a stirring sound.
Back to beautiful Mull though, which is so underrated and undiscovered yet by many Scots, never mind all the other nationalities. I did see Marsh Harriers and Kites down south and Brighton was a strange place, but I am still not sure why !! Maybe it’s just all those people in huge numbers around every corner. I should have gone to see my friend Andy Bayes who knows the birding in that part of the world, but unlike here on Mull everyone including me seemed to be dashing around chasing something or other.
Well I have a wildlife trip tomorrow and look forward to checking on my wild friends again. Its been super weather up here for some time by all accounts and visitors love the sun, snow capped peaks and the spectacle of the islands, but as I keep telling everyone, sunshine and showers is best. So fingers crossed for me.
I am sorry as I know so many people follow my postings and wildlife sightings here on the Island of Mull. Unfortunately I have important commitments for about ten days and will therefore be unable to post any wildlife news and adventures on the diary pages of my website.
Today there was another twist in Mulls tail by being pretty wintry yet again, but tomorrow looks very good . The thing is that ‘sunny’ on the mainland can often mean a hazy sun and not the clear blue sky that we can get here. With a same ‘sunny’ forecast and clear unpolluted atmosphere, which we have here on such ‘sunny’ days in Winter, visitors can burn, particularly early in the season when getting sunburnt isn’t really expected..
I don’t know about down there but up here our daffodils are still reluctant to show their faces yet, but they always seem to know what they are doing and their judgement is usually very good from my experience. So I would expect a a lot of yellow flowers dancing in the woodland and fields any day now.
Back to the clear atmosphere and sun here and a health tip for our expected visitors this Spring and Summer. Bring the sun bloc and a peaked hat because out on the sea trips it can be windy and feel a bit cold but so many don’t realise that given the above their hair is often blown back and clears their fringe and from then on the sun can really burn peoples foreheads unnoticed. So enjoy such trips but watch that forehead.
Back to my diary postings again soon.