As poorish weather began to clear a little, I thought I had better place my first bet on the two White Tailed Sea Eagles south of the ferry point that are more reliable than most humans are to me.
So patience was needed initially and that is tough for humans, when its a bit cold. However we did see a couple of hen harriers in the same area, but I couldn’t hold them any longer and so off to try somewhere else . Yet knowing, that my two sea eagle friends seem to like the joke of watching people give up on finding them and then while you are moving away, they come romping over the vehicle to land where they like to land !! So it was then, with big views of an adult sea eagle in the binoculars yes, but even better in my telescope.
Off to Grasspoint now and rock doves and another colourful hen harrier, lots of red deer stags and many stonechats. At Grasspoint we waited again and watched lots of seabird activity, great northern divers and an odd very big seal, followed by about 10 Porpoise very close, hugging the coast and going north.
Into Glenmore and as the weather was clearing we saw a pair if golden eagles taking offence to a big adult sea eagle pushing its luck on the golden eagles territory, before it took the the hint and wandered along the peaks and down the glen toward Loch Buie.
No otters today though, but I tried, on a cold and choppy sea with time running out.
Its been another fabulous day here again.
Unfortunately though It has meant a lot of work outside for me and good old fashioned housework inside, with Joy still down south visiting our boys until late afternoon Wednesday, when she will return on the 4pm ferry from Oban probably with a lot of shopping !
Its good for her to get away and be off Mull occasionally visiting the children and girl friends in Wales and North Yorkshire. I am ok of course, because I am out in the wilds of Mull, usually each weekday, with a full group of people on my Wildlife Expeditions. Which will be the case on Wednesday. Though it is quieter on the Island now. But what a pity really because this has been one of the best ever spells of calm, very dry and sunny weather, with starry starry nights, amazing sunsets and sunrises, huge rainbows and a myriad of different colours each day, of sky, sea, mountains and islands bobbing offshore.
Not being out and about until Wednesday I know I must be missing lots of things. Probably great northern divers down from Iceland, slavonian grebes and lots of young eagles of both species, as it has been such a good breeding year for them and for hen harriers, which I believe have had their best ever year here for rearing young.
Ravens are wheeling over the house right now cronking away and doing their fantastic acrobatic performances to show off to possible mates.
The sun will soon be setting over the Island of Ulva and it looks as always, sweepingly beautiful.
People have been missing so very much if they have never visited the Hebridean Islands and sat on a headland to watch the golden sunset that I have right now.
As I am quiet on the Expeditions for a couple of days I thought it would be a good idea to answer a question which I am so often asked, and that is for the best way to get here.
Lets start far away in Europe.
There are flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh from most European cities today. Ideally choose Glasgow as it is in the west of Scotland therefore nearer the whole west coast and Mull. Directly by the airport you can hire a car, and from there it is an easy drive of about 2 hours to Oban and the Mull Ferry, which is now very inexpensive even with your vehicle and very regular [ See the Caledonian MacBrayne website]. Very cheap as foot passengers only by the way ! The sail is super and takes just 30 minutes
If not flying direct to Glasgow, then fly to London where you can also fly on to Glasgow or Edinburgh. If Glasgow, then again think of hiring a car, or from the airport get a bus into Glasgow and get a train from there to Oban and the Mull ferry point.
If you get stuck at any of the above places there are always hotels to put you up for a night, before you move on to Oban.
Travelling to Mull from within the UK.
The above will still apply but many use their own car to come here and even stop at a couple places on route to add interest and break the journey.
Most important of all, if you decide to come to Mull please don’t book for less than a few days because Mull is huge and has the most varied landscape in Britain. This daft Victorian idea of touring Scotland just does not work and you wont enjoy it. Putting down roots in these most magical of Island destinations is very much part of the experience.
By the way some ask whether it isn’t a bit remote !! But that may be true of the outer Hebridean Islands but not the inner, which are visible from the mainland.
It’s 9 am with yet another windless day, a very calm sea and glorious sunrise. The Hebridean Princess has just drifted in and is now at anchor between Mull and The Isle of Ulva.
Some might know that the ship was once a Cal Mac ferry which was converted to a luxury cruise ship and I believe the royal family occasionally charter it, now that they no longer have the Royal Yacht Britannia. Its a good view of it by the way from the big window of my bedroom.
Joy is away for a week taking Sonny, Charlie and Rufus back home to Glasgow and then visiting our two boys and their partners in the posh south of England and yesterday she phoned and told me about the chaotic scenes in the underground and railway system in London. It will only get worse of course, because of the mess Brexit has created.
Come to Mull I say where there are hundreds of miles of wild land and seascapes and breathe fresh clean air again.
Not much is happening regarding my Wildlife Expeditions, despite the Oban to Mull ferry again being full all day yesterday. The reality is that visitors at this time of year are just not very wildlife friendly. They are too busy on their cheap ferry deal, racing around the island !!
Still it doesn’t stop my own wild instincts from saying, get out there and having a look David. In fact I watched a barn owl sitting on a fence a mile down our road yesterday morning.
My next tour is on Wednesday when I hope to get some keen visitors again.
The sea is flat calm and simply stunning from the house right now. How can anyone not see this is a hundred times better than city life?
Two days ago we took the 3 grandchildren down to the south of Mull and my very friendly long term sea eagle friends gave the children super early views. At Grasspoint I met a very nice couple sitting on the rocky headland, who admitted that they were not very knowledgeable about wildlife. However !! the lady said they had been there just a couple of days so far and that a school of dolphins had past very close to their cottage going north and some time later another group past going south.
whilst an adult white tailed eagle sat on a small islet offshore they told me about the otter seen an hour ago by the cottage. Someone had also entered in their visitor book that they had seen a Minke Whale.
I left them looking out to sea, as if mesmerized. On the wildlife trip yesterday we all saw the adult sea eagle again and a young one heading from Craignure down the coast and then behind Duart Castle.
My group did not see the dolphins yesterday but instead porpoise fins offshore, black throated diver, lots of gannets still around and a big view of two pairs of golden eagles above the mountains in very strong wind and then a really good view of a male hen harrier which danced in front of a row of dark conifers and then crossed the road heading down Glenforsa.
Otters to find now then and as we arrived at Pennyghael I mentioned that a a yong otter had been waving its tail about in a small seaweed headland days before. As we studied that same area we all spotted a photographer slithering down the seaweed point, and there were two otters slithering away from him. Like him we lost the otters but 100m back down the road we then had a really big male otter feeding and wandering about on a big rock.
Lots of sparrow hawks and kestrels about lately also.
See how entertaining it is here and how Mull always creates such high levels of expectation, and then regularly delivers ?
Not doing wildlife trips because its end of season here, I feel like an eagle with his wings clipped and unable to fly free. Though I soon got over it and we collected Sonny, Charlie and Rufus from Glasgow yesterday, to see the Mull Rally and at least feel free from the hurly burly of their City lives, which never did anyone any good.
It was a pretty poor day driving back from Glasgow and on Loch Lomond the extra large vehicles that just don’t fit the roads there, seemed to be getting even bigger.
Mull has rightly been on the world map this year particularity during August which are European holiday times. Good yes to see them getting more environmentally aware but not good when most of them including Brits just race around the island on some cheap one day trip, never seeing the island if it is raining during their few hours visit. Does a sensitive island like Mull really need that sort of visitor?
Anyway the weather did clear as we left the Highlands and Loch Lomond behind and as we reached the ferry point and travelled homeward to the West Coast, as usual it began to clear and turned into another sumptuous evening over here.
Today has been pretty good with only occasional spits of rain for the rally and we had the super swimming pool by the Isle of Mull Hotel all to ourselves.
Pretty good weather tomorrow I believe and so we will all go on a tour and see what is happening around the island. Maybe the basking sharks are still around ?
Yes it is now more or less the end of my season which has been such a good one for me and all wildlife on the island.
Its been another glorious day here with the now familiar ‘hard to describe’ beauty that we have been having in the evenings, as the sun goes down and in the night another star filled sky.
We are soon off to Glasgow to bring our 3 grandchildren back to the island, as they have an October break. Will we get this weather again here? Probably not. Simply because the odds say that it must change. If so it’s off to the swimming pool, which they each love and maybe some foraging in the woods for chanterelle mushrooms and collecting oysters on the coast.
I have a trickle of pre booking’s for my trips now but who knows, if the value of the pound falls any lower all the foreigners I have had on my trips might want to come back.
Either way, lots have promised to come back next year.
It’s 5.30 and a wonderful low golden sky over the south of Mull and Iona with a hundred puffy white clouds dappled throughout it with splashes of red . I am just back from a super trip with very nice enthusiastic people which makes my day so much easier of course.
Off south then to try for an early white tailed sea eagle sighting, which it duly was and impressed everyone who enjoyed it through the telescope.
North now to the Salen Loch na Keal road where an adult female and young hen harrier were gliding along the hillside in a very under watched area ! Now to the National Scenic Area where on the way down to Craignure I had seen two biggish bumps out on the shingle spit at Killiechronan, which were there again when we arrived and they turned into the two adult sea eagles from that territory. Super views now after scones and coffee as they took off together and headed to the forest a mile away.
Now over to Scarisdale rocks and with patience, three otters on a small islet with a rising tide !
On the other side of Benmore we parked up to look for golden eagles and a male hen harrier was sunning himself in the old quarry there, before he was off and into the fold of the hills.
Golden eagle next, sitting atop a mountain peak and leaning into the strong wind up there.
Two more harriers now near Lochdon and a group of red deer, with a stag and his harem.
In the above I know I must miss lots of smaller birds and others, but my job is to focus on the big species here and I did very well on that score I think..
I have been just too busy to stay on top of my diary postings in the last week, but here is an attempt to recall various events on the days out.
White Tailed Sea Eagles have been pretty stupendous with many sightings of them doing different things. However I was glad on my last trip to get an early sighting of a young golden eagle, initially about a quarter of a mile away as I spotted a group of birds tussling in the sky. They were above the Salen to Loch an Keal road and we all had exciting views as the youngster with its white rump flashing and golden head sailed low over our heads chased by ravens.
On Loch na keal we had to wait for the sea eagles to show, but always when they do it means high drama among the geese and gulls, and so much safer to be flying than being on the ground. The sighting also pleased a couple of people parked up and hoping for a sighting of the eagles. Great views then with feet out early to land on the shingle spits there.
We saw hen harriers on each trip I think but occasionally missed the white male it seems!
Five young white tailed sea eagles together in Glenmore and interacting as they historically do up there in the winter, as they jostle for mates and test their new weaponry on each other, as the young of all birds of prey do of course!!
Red throated divers, red deer stags and their harems, stonechats, and seals of both species. Goosanders, little grebes and various gulls as always. The common gull being our most common, unlike much of the rest of Britain, rock and meadow pipits, lots of herons and buzzards of course, groups of golden plovers, arctic skuas from the ferry yesterday and as always the magnificent spectacle of the Island of Mull in its now daily sunny weather, as it is again from my office here at 8.30am.
Monday is my last big day out, with the annual Island car rally closing in on me and my wildlife friends. But I will still be out there pretty regularly.
It’s a visual feast from my office this morning, and it was quite a wildlife feast on yesterdays trip.
On the way to The Isle of Mull Hotel and more people at Craignure, I spotted three big ‘bumps’ on a small islet, but decided to check this when I collected my full group from Craignure.
Back to the three bumps, now 20 minutes later with the hope that they were still there!
The bumps turned into white tailed sea eagles both adults and youngsters, only now there were 5 of them jostling for position.
We left them enjoying each others company seemingly, and headed off to another sea eagle site, which had gone cold on me lately, until a couple of days ago and there again was another sea eagle looking good in the telescopes.
Enough of white tailed sea eagles then !!? Well not quite for as we settled to look for harriers 3 came breezing over us on the Glenmore road. Possibly 3 of the 5 seen earlier.
One young sea eagle obligingly put up a female hen harrier for us and off now to look for golden eagles in the Glen. High up there the wind was very strong which made for difficult watching and waiting. So no golden eagles yesterday but never mind we will look for otters and sure enough immediately after parking up I spotted the tail of an otter waving in the air on a small promontory 50m away.
Off to make sure my guests keep a lowish profile but I am not sure it mattered because we found a Mum and two young cubs having lots o fun and very distracted chasing each other among the seaweed.
So on yesterdays trip we had very good eagle and otter sightings and it was difficult to tear everyone away on both occasions, but our ‘wild life’ here has to go on .