I believe that it is sunny all day tomorrow for my wildlife trip but I only have two people at the moment.
However !!! today is absolutely ‘festive’ with very heavy snow falling since early morning and may continue into the evening.
It looks like Christmas all over again and I am more likely to catch sight of Santa and Rudolf than a hen harrier if I was out in this.
As usual though I have to say that despite this very arctic scene Mull is still magical and tomorrow I expect snow capped peaks yet sunshine down below. So it’s going to look terrific I think. Pity we don’t have arctic foxes, breeding gyrfalcons, or many snow buntings, or snowy owls, because that would be a very good day.
Looking from my office door now it feels weird indeed that we have had weeks of sunshine. So much, that I was getting worried about having enough water, but this snow will melt to give us more than we need. Dread to think of eagles, hen harriers, short eared owls etc etc sitting on eggs or on small young and the farmers, their sheep and new born lambs .
Off to a good start again then, with a nesting sea eagle and after a short time its partner flying in to sit above it.
Onward to more birds of prey on the Grasspoint road. So many that we couldn’t decide which to look at. But there were hen harriers, sea eagles adult and young, buzzards and a golden eagle. All scattered over a very blue sky and puffy white clouds.
So much happened in this early bout that it was hard to top. However all on the trip were pleased to see an otter, which we spotted being mobbed by gulls on Loch Scridain. It came ashore and wandered around the rocks, by which time we were out of time and had to head back for the ferry.
Sunny and a very cold wind is not good !! However if you are ‘really looking’ and out with the right guide it can still be very good.
So, a male hen harrier early near a nesting sea eagle which may have 3 young, and its partner and a young sea eagle scrapping above it over who is with who and where.
Another male harrier 20 minutes later a and a merlin flashing past us and across across the road kike greased lightning. Overhead were two more very high sea eagles.
Off now to Loch na Keal and a really good view of a female golden eagle pouring out of the sky and into a nest for a changeover.
No otters yet but I was asked to try and find one, and so heading under Gribbun Cliffs looking for peregrine falcons, which I couldn’t find, I spotted something not quite like seaweed and sure enough an otter came ashore with a fish and gave everyone good views from above.
Lots of wheatears, pipits, curlews etc etc and a brilliant bright and colourful day with nice people.
Lots of people in Britain go abroad for exotic holidays, but goodness me its ‘Exotic’ here in weather such as we are enjoying.
What can be more ‘exotic’ and inspiring anyway than seeing a white tailed sea eagle, or a golden eagle, the king of birds as its breaks the mountainous skyline of Mull.
It’s become ‘exotic’ now to see hen harriers in Britain, because of persecution on the UK mainland by shooting estates. Luckily here we are more or less a sanctuary for them, as there are no grouse shooting moors at all.
Then if you are lucky you could see my favourite bird the male merlin, or scan the huge sea on our north west coast for basking sharks, dolphins or even a whale.
There are rarely explored woodlands and glens, very high mountains, powder white beaches, islands and islets offshore with the bluest sea, lapping more white sand beaches.
Its exotic here alright and a great shame that so many people in the UK have never even been to Scotland, never mind enjoyed the spectacle of these romantic and magical Hebridean Islands.
I am running out of superlatives to describe the look of Mull in the last few weeks and today from my office it is another stupendous scene.
I got up at 7am this morning to see all our mountains covered half way up with early morning mist, but on top of Benmore there was a volcano looking black and white peak rising above the clouds. It was so unusual, as every day seems to be here.
From my office now the landscape reaching 200m toward the sea, is a rich red and gold and the sea beyond is a deep blue and green. This will no doubt change in a couple of hours and then probably again !!
I am stepping onto our decking just to ‘feel’ the moment now. Hugely Luxuriant and colourful is the feeling I have and I am reminded of the scene from my parent’s home in Sheffield where I grew up, which was black as soot and towering steelworks across the road with only the colour red to lighten the blackness and that was the fire from the furnaces handling the steel, and black figures like something out of a Lowry painting. At the back of our two up and two down terraced house was a cobbled yard and a huge Gas tank which rose and fell depending on peoples usage in the region. I now have the best view in the world and the cleanest air in Britain, to say nothing of gorgeous Mull to which I feel I owe so much, as we all do here.
I’ve enjoyed tropical views all over the world, from The Cooke Islands to the Seychelles and it looks very ‘tropical from here again today. Though I know the sea is colder. But for sheer spectacle and with a vista of ocean and mountains covering an expanse of say 10 miles left to right, how can this be beaten? Go another twenty miles straight out to sea toward the south of Mull and Iona and I know 100% certain, that it can’t be beaten.
Add the two White Tailed Sea Eagles that I can hear yelping quarter of a mile to my left right now and the only thing that could change the above, would be a snow leopard, maybe a jaguar and perhaps a pod of killer whales jumping offshore !!
No, today is perfect and yesterday was close, but no otters ! However on yesterdays wildlife trip we saw lots of eagles in a variety of situations. Hen harriers were initially a bit quiet but in Glenmore lots of them also again doing all manner of things, with a lot of calling to add interest.
Great northern divers are steadily acquiring their summer plumage, red deer and seals are as usual here to be seen. I seem to have acquired an antler that one of my guests stumbled upon, but when getting the ferry back to the mainland she left it in my boot! It’s not going to be an easy thing to post if I get a call about it.
So there we go, with the Islands visitors, wildlife, stunning scenery and myself, always entertaining !!
BIG TIP !! Don’t come here for a day or even two days. Its not enough. Cancel this daft idea of touring Scotland. No one enjoys it. Trust ‘the voice of experience’.
Yes a keen small bunch of wildlife enthusiasts yesterday.
White tailed sea eagle then early on , goosanders, mergansers, lots of red deer, short eared owl, usual buzzards, ravens, hooded crows of course.
A few smart looking stonechats, pipits, skylarks, golden eagles and dramatic adult sea eagle in Glenmore, hen harriers, short rain showers and lots of sun, but a cold wind at times.
Nothing really likes very cold winds and I was a bit surprised after lots of sightings lately that harriers were thinner on the ground. But probably because of that very cold wind.
Today looks serene from here and still dry and windless. My eight people should have a very good day.
Visually stunning does not adequately describe the look of Mull, at times such as we are in right now.
How do you adequately describe the ever changing colours of our clear blue sea ? The browns, reds and sandy colours of the landscape as it rolls to the sea from my office door. Mountains and islands rising out of the sea, with Benmore still having the smallest amount of snow on its peak, just to seemingly add that little bit extra?
Yesterday was another wonderful weather day so we took our three grandchildren on the ferry to the Ardnamurchan Peninsular which as most know is the most westerly point on the UK mainland. As soon as we were on the small ferry from Tobermory the sea was dappled with lots of excitable porpoises and over on the Ardnamurchan the Stevenson Lighthouse was, as always, magnificent as it looks out onto a huge piece of ocean and islands as far as the eye can see.
I am out of superlatives when Mull is in this most beautiful of moods and it has to be seen to be believed.
It is such a pity that visitors often just spend a couple of days here and some even less. I have always felt that there is an indescribable ‘essence’ here that you simply must give time to absorb.
Otters have been quiet lately, with the theory being that they go inland more during April searching out frogs, mainly.
However we have still had two excellent wildlife trips with big views of sea eagles, lots of hen harriers and with a male yesterday that flew within 5 feet of the front of my vehicle before sliding up a hillside and away. Phew !! It reminded me of my very first Male Hen Harrier that glided along the bonnet of my sports car, in the Berwyn Mountains of North Wales. An encounter that started me birdwatching many years ago now. We also had super views of an adult and a young golden eagle racing along a close line of very rocky crags.
Last Saturday was a lovely day with Sonny, Charlie and Rufus, on the sandy arc of sand that goes out toward Inch Kenneth from the Gribbun cliffs coast road. They found some new pals there, which were on holiday and staying nearby. Whilst there we had another super encounter with a top wild creature, as ravens flew very low overhead cronking and chasing an adult white tailed sea eagle.
Today though was a magical fluke, as our friends at Loch Buie Phil and Sue Lane felt they had seen a Black Wheatear over a couple of days in their area and which may be a first for Britain but certainly very rare. As it turned out I was stuck with looking for it during light drizzle, wjhich was sufficient enough to make any such insect eater sit tight. HOWEVER, on the way to Loch Buie and just before the Croggan turnoff Sonny spotted a bird on a big boulder about 20 feet away, which turned out to be another Male Merlin !!! Which like me was a bit wet ! But what a view and so close. How I wished I had taken my camera.
What a wonderful start it was today with brilliant early morning sunshine , no wind, snow dappled Benmore and just awesome views from the house across to Gribbun cliffs which showed every contour of its cliffs because of the slowly rising sun and the shadows it creates.
Yesterdays trip was another good day and after I collected two more people from Knoch we immediately had a really good view of a sitting white tailed sea eagle and then had at least 4 other cars parking up and of course I gave them all a look in the telescope at the sea eagle. Offshore were summer plumaged slavonian grebes and lots of great northern divers throughout the whole day. My customers at Knoch reminded me of a trip a few years ago when we had another gorgeous male merlin just before Gribbun cliffs at exactly the same time of year and who was and maybe still is following the thousands of migrating smaller birds and then going onward to Iceland and even Greenland.
We had a dipper early on also and a golden eagle on high being irritated by two hooded crows
No otter today but lots of seals and different gulls and while watching for peregrine falcons, an adult sea soared just offshore. In Glenmore one of those BIG and close views of a golden eagle which I know is probably using a new nest site and was flying out and collecting nest material and then returning to the new site.
The forecast had been good until around 2pm, it then deteriorated bang on time, but fortunately we had seen most of what we wanted to see, but no otters. However tomorrow’s another day as they say.