No trips the last few days but it has still been pretty eventful with a real mixture of magical Hebridean weather of sharp showers and clear sun. Fabulous for photogaphy and very romantic looking at times. Romantic like I remember Moscow was during the Cold War with snow everywhere and a sprinkling of it on the golden domes of the Kremlin. Back to earth and a water pump problem here making a horrible noise. So off to Oban and new one and hoped it worked. Then off to Inverness with good friends giving me a lift and a sweeping drive through the Highlands and Lochness to collect our car which the Fiat garage there eventually fixed and thankyou to the sweet girl on reception who did a great job in allaying our fears when they could not seem to solve the problem. Just had 3 giddy mature ladies staying here and a hen harrier passing by. I have a trip on Tuesday but it’s getting quiet now and so lots of big and little holidays to interesting places I hope. A week in Rome is booked.
A cold challenging day today with big showers and sun. Some porpoise in the Sound of Mull, red throated divers in winter plumage and one in summer plumage on Loch na Keal, The two adult sea eagles sitting very close together on an oak tree and grooming themselves, as they are in moult right now but still looked really good for my guests. The young golden eagle on Gribbun Cliffs calling and flying to land repeatedly and eventually on a big boulder giving good telecope views, adult sea eagle in Glen Seilesdair but no otters today despite reasonable conditions but a high tide. Big sighting of the day for me was the first really good view of a Jay on Mull. There has been talk and odd sightings but yes very colourful and of course not at all a Hebridean bird.
People from Scotland, Australia and Holland on a dry and sunny trip today. All wanted to see our top species of course. So onto Loch na Keal and as I pulled up I glimpsed a possible otter just off a rocky point to my right and sure enough he came ambling our way catching fish as he did so and eventually came ashore to give the perfect view of an otter and all were excited by the encounter. Across the loch we saw a young golden eagle alight at the top of a mountain. Off up the coast and big views of an immature sea eagle up with and tangling with a young golden eagle which was then joined by the adult female from that trritory. She went into her swooping up and down display right along her sea cliffs and eventually alighted at the bottom of small tree to give good views in the scope. 5 minutes further on two hen harriers were soaring above and along Gribbun cliffs, which was pretty unusual. Another immature sea eagle, sparrowhawk and red deer in Glenmore and off to the ferry.
The forecast was diabolical today, as it was all over the country seemingly and we were off to Oban and the dentist and Joys hairdresser and so we thought we had better cancel the trip. It was wise because the 11am ferry got away from Mull but then everyone was stranded there and had to stay the night in hotels etc. However, though it was incredibly wild at Craigure it was very calm over here on the West Coast and not a drop of rain all day. This is Mull of course and why we have European sunshine records in the south of the island and the third wettest place around Benmore. Life is forever interesting you see here.
I think I made everyone happy today. Two adult sea eagles crossing loch na Keal within 10 minutes of each other and putting hundreds of birds up and it’s the best setting in Britain to see these birds. Over the other side we had greenland wheatear, guillemot, turnstones, curlews, kittiwakes and others. An otter apparently crossed the road 5 minutes after we went past. Damn !! But no problem we had a big view of the young golden eagle from Gribbun cliffs and an adult sea eagle sitting above the nest in Glen Seilesdair as the young male flew onto the nest. The adult eventually flew across the trees and soared above us. On Loch Scridain we got the otter coming ashore with fish and as we got closer we had really good views of it eating its fish and going backward and forward for more. Red deer latterly, another sea eagle and reasonably close golden eagle near Loch Don. I make people happy, pass on lots of wildlife tips, and I like that !!!
As planned I was off and up on the steep slopes of coast at Kilninian 20 minutes drive from here and to get at this invasive cotoneaster that is damaging the habitat of the rare Slender Scotch Burnett day flying moth which is quite beautiful. I popped on my old fleece for painting in [and covered in it] but when I arrived the few others that turned up all looked as if they were going to church and dressed in posher outdoor gear. I felt a right plonker and must have looked like a vagrant. It was a beautiful setting with a big empty sea below and Islands bobbing across it. Tom Prescott from Butterfly Conservation was there as he was last year and our work looks as if it has paid dividends with the cotoneaster pretty dead in places and of course the good news in The Times yesterday was that moths had been seen there this summer. When the fabulous natural environment and wildlife of Mull is so vital to the economy these days one would think that far more people would turn up to help, as its a big area for a small group of hardy but well dressed volunteers, doing it all for a moth !! A beautiful moth though.
It was fabulous day for a walk in the huge amphitheatre of a Glen at Loch Ba today. Pretty quickly 3 golden eagles were scrapping and calling above us and a little further on a small group of fallow deer were sunning themselves under Scots Pines. I believe this area once had the highest mountains in Europe, before the last ice age. Ring Ouzels are rare here for me and the only bird that gives off a smell to warn off its predators and looking at the perfect habitat there it must have Ring Ouzels in summer. So next year I will have a search. Tomorrow I am off for some cotoneaster bashing on the cliffs of Kilninian to improve the habitat of the Slender Scotch Burnett which is terribly rare. I was just reading ‘The Times’ as you do, and there on page 32 is a piece about Mull and our adventures tomorrow !! Can you believe that. Maybe we might now get a good turnout, in the belief that all will get in next weeks Times, instead of just the 4 of us from last year.
Thar she blows !! I had a minke whale today off Balmeanch on loch na Keal, problem was that only I saw it a few times but no one else did. Before then we had porpoise in the Sound of Mull, a scaup wuth mergansers on loch na Keal but no sea eagles there ? Wierd !! A really close otter catching fish and coming ashore at Kellan and another offshore at ‘Otter Point’, the young golden eagle at Gribbun, the whale and then two adult sea eagles strangely flying to the nest at Seilesdair and then flying out to sit stunningly in vivid light in a tree. Hen harrier by Loch Beg, redshank and redpolls. Two more golden eagles high in Glenmore and red deer and then off to the ferry.
Another big showers day with blazing sun and crystal clear light, and after all sunshine and showers is the best for wildlife watching in the UK. 10 minutes north of Craignure we had a few porpoise. On to Loch na Keal and the sea eagles flying and sitting, 5 minutes op the road and an otter coming ashore with a fish and so I dropped my people there while I went up to our house to collect some forgotten celiac food for a girl from Italy. When I got back they had lost the otter and were getting wet !! Onto the other coastline and 4 sea eagles were up with a golden eagle sliding across the mountainside to join them. Gannets, wheatears, pipits, ravens, kestrels, guillemot, red deer stags etc. Onto Loch Scridain and Britains most handsosme bird the black throated diver in summer plumage. At the end of the loch we had long term views of a female hen harrier and then homeward toward Craignure and the ferry for the young Italian couple who spoke very little English, though they knew Christiano Ronaldo who I explained was ‘handsome’ like the diver.
It was a pretty exciting day I think with one lady quite starry eyed and others giving me severe handshakes. So off in the morning to Loch na Keal and fallow deer and sea eagle adults with a youngster flying, a close otter bringing bigger fish ashore and eating butterfish offshore too. Guillemot, grey wagtail, mergansers, kestrels buzzards, ravens, gannets diving, kittiwakes, Wheatears, pipits etc and then a young sea eagle back in the nest. Another otter on Loch Scridain and then off to find hen harriers and golden eagles. So why not get them both at the same time? Into Glenmore and a hen harrier was stroking the top of a craggy cliff, when a golden eagle came from on high like a ball of feathers with feet outstretched and landed on a small sheltered ledge before rain hit us all and the harrier had a quick dive at the eagle. From then we had terrific views of the golden eagle drying himself off and then launching into the abyss and across the glen to circle up and along the hillside. A good day then and the subsequent happy happy guests.