It has been a change for me today in not being out in the wilds with visitors.
Problem on that score is that enquiries are so patchy that I can’t commit, or afford to take out, just two people of course.
Anyway I made the most of today and watched the most exciting game of rugby between the British Lions and New Zealand’s All Blacks and frankly we out played them.
The day started misty here but it is now the most serene and gorgeous evening here on the west coast of the island.
Visually and having travelled extensively I don’t think the visual splendour and variety of the islands seas and landscapes can be beaten.
My diary postings have been a bit thin on the ground in the last few days, which is because bookings have been at a trickle, but this is all very normal for this time of year in the Hebrides.
The reality is that wildlife wise Mull is undoubtedly better from end of April to early July. From then onward visitors are generally just ‘looking for something to do’ than be really keen to see our wildlife.
However I think we can compete closely with Aurora Borealis and Iceland for the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Such as the sunrise I have right now, with the cliffs of Gribbun across the loch from here, looking truly huge, rugged and emerald green in the low sunrise. At this very moment the grassland reaching out to the sea, is all lemon gold and the sea like glass.
I had a keen group today which helped us find most things that they wanted to see.
So early on, a short eared owl, and by the end of the day we had seen about four in different places.
Common seals and red deer. black guillemots, gannets, shags and lots of orchids. Including common spotted, fragrant, greater and lesser butterfly, along with broad leaved marsh orchids.
We also saw a male hen harrier and two or three females at least.
Three of us had a fleeting glimpse of a white tailed sea eagle and all of us enjoyed watching a golden eagle in Glenmore come from distance, to glide along the skyline and eventually land in a sheltered spot on top of a small cliff with a grassy topping, where the eagle sat for sometime.
Now getting pushed for time we tried Loch Scridain and found a female otter with two cubs, doing the cute things that only otters can do.
No doubt I miss some things from todays posting but all of our top drawer and desirable creatures were seen today. Hence why there were so many strong handshakes when we got back to Craignure.
Well I covered some ground today, to find our top creatures for a very an enthusiastic group.
Pressure on then and so the National Scenic Area was my best bet I felt.
At Killiechronan two White Tailed Sea Eagles were sitting on one of their favourite perches. In the same area we had an otter climbing onto a small islet. Seals were on Scarisdale rocks on the other side of the loch and some of us had a fleeting view of a Golden Eagle there. On to Gribbun cliffs where we had a male otter for some time and we had lunch there also.
Into Glen Seilesdair where an adult sea eagle was sitting in the trees and gave everyone super views in my telescope.
Into Glenmore and a golden eagle was very high and flying purposefully, as it sailed above us and across the glen.
Red deer were seen regularly and my expected short eared owl delivered on the highest point of the Glenmore road and was then joined by another. Yet another, was giving the same sightings at the foot of the glen before a bit of entertainment by the noisy and briliantly colourful and exotic Indian Peacock’s !!!
the above was a good day then and I may have missed a few other things on such a fulsome day.
With no trip today it seemed a good idea to check on the bridge repair at Knock and the National Scenic Area, which has been out of bounds for all of us for about two months. What diabolical planning this was by our Council.
Anyway, wheatears were plentiful as were whitethroats and a colourful male reed bunting seemed to be lording it over, on the top of a small bush.
Checking on the Peregrine Falcons after some time of not being able to see them because of the bridge repair, I stepped out of my vehicle to the sound of ravens and there they were with a peregrine falcon swirling among them which then raced along the cliffs to land in a perfectly sheltered place from the strong wind. I was very lucky to find it again but Joy and I enjoyed super views of a big adult female gazing down at us.
Soon the ravens were at it again calling and chasing an adult white Tailed Sea Eagle, which sailed along the sea cliffs quite close to us and headed out toward the Wilderness.
Having checked the region out we headed for Glenmore and our home at Ulva ferry. On the highest section of road on the island I thought we might !! and we did !! get a super view of a short eared owl looking for voles along the hillside.
Tonight and looking from my office at 4.30 I think it will be a super sunset.
My trips are in a sort of pattern at the moment, with over the last few days good views of Otters singly, or Mum and a cub and yesterday two youngsters frolicking together, seemingly oblivious of the audience who were enjoying possibly their first ever otter sighting in the wild.
I do my best to explain to people enquiring about a trip and did so with yesterdays French people. In that photographic days out are totally different to just spotting something and enjoying the moment. However people keep bringing bigger and bigger cameras instead of binoculars and getting that bit too close, to otters in particular.
Yesterday the short eared owls were not as obliging as they have been lately, but as we stopped for lunch by Loch Spelve there was Mr Handsome the male hen harrier dancing as he does along the hillside. Being the bird that started me birdwatching you might imagine that I am always moved by such encounters.
I owe him so much.
Seals , lost of orchids, red deer and a lot of thei more obvious sightings also yesterday but I think eagles will have to wait for Monday or Tuesdays trip.
And who knows what else? With such regular changes in the weather lately?
Up to yesterday trip I think we had some of our most demoralizing weather, with misty, mizzly days.
However today is tropical from the house and as it cleared yesterday we had steady short eared owl sightings, lots of different orchids now with me insisting that everyone pays homage to the gorgeously scented fragrant orchid, which has suddenly burst on the scene. Lesser butterfly and broad leaved marsh orchids are also now showing and which are probably even more exotic in the softer south of Mull.
Golden eagles in Glenmore have not been easy but after stopping for lunch, there was the sighting we should all extoll about, as a female in her element raced along the skyline chased by ravens. As we followed the event a sea eagle also broke the skyline for a moment. Lots of red deer as usual today and seals etc. However the spot of the day was again in Glenmore when one of my group decided to scan a huge part of the golden eagles territory and duly performed wonders by finding a golden eagle sitting on large boulder with its golden head giving it away, but still very distant in a complex mix of rocks, different grasses and shrubbery.
He did brilliantly to find this.
We have had a few days now of mizzly weather but today it has at last cleared and is now sunny and very calm.
I have a wildlife trip tomorrow and hope for the same, or more ideally sunshine and showers ?
I suppose we should be pleased in these islands that it isn’t as hot as down south right now !!!
On yesterdays trip we had another of those misty days where humans and wild creatures are searching for that break in the weather.
It was some time before we got it, and then we had a female otter with a maturing cub on Loch Spelve and at the same time we had an immature White Tailed Sea Eagle above us. In fact we had another one at Croggan itself gliding along and onto the hills across the water.
We also had lots of orchids on the day, from Fragrant Orchids which I insist everyone gets the scent of, to Lesser butterfly orchids and common spotted, to broad leaved Marsh orchids.
Black Guillemot’s were offshore and a lot of Gannets not far out, were diving into the sea on a regular basis off Grasspoint.
Plenty of red deer trotted out there also as the clouds cleared a little.
Good ending then to a wettish day !!
Today was the first of two Wildlife Trips for the Majestic Line cruise ship company, on a pretty poor weather day. There was also much French being spoken and which I must practice, with so many French people now discovering Mull and The Hebridean Islands.
Anyway !!! we all watched an otter at the ferry point, as the Calmac Ferry came in. On to Lochdon and as we went over the lovely old stone bridge to Grasspoint there was a short eared owl looking pretty white, which passed prey rather roughly to another owl in the air. Then we had a slightly darker owl roaming the landscape and perching also.
Red deer now and a gamble on a white tailed sea eagle, which Thank the Lord was sitting just where I wanted it too, before lifting off and gliding along a ridge and into the mist .
Lesser Butterfly Orchids were at Grasspoint along with other orchids. Loch Buie beckons us now, as we go past the very loud and colourful peacocks on the road to Ardura and Loch Buie. Fallow Deer at Loch Buie, fleeting golden eagle and a red throated diver very close inshore.
Pretty good then for a poor weather day.
Tomorrow I have the second group from The Majestic Line with I think better weather !!