It feels very challenging when unlike Spring and Summer wild creatures are not where they should be !! Many have gone to Africa for their holidays and some are not down from the far north yet as the weather is not too bad there. Fortunately however our own year round residents are up for it and have the Islands to themselves.
Yesterday then, we had a number of porpoise in the Sound of Mull, a female otter with cub on Loch na Keal, seemingly having a fun time with a seal very close inshore. Not close, but all 3 golden eagle territories active in Glenmore with one golden eagle scattering some red deer. We had a stag with his Harem, 3 hen harriers and laterly an adult white tailed sea eagle sitting on a small islet with some common seals.
I also had a jolly and enthusiastic group today and a good spotter in Naomi..
I am out today on a trip but they are slowing now as people in England think winter is coming to Scotland. Well yes it is but in The Hebridean Islands it can be something quite different and the best time to see some big species.
Mull of course has the most varied biodiversity in Britain and with the different habitats it can make for an entertaining week focusing perhaps on a different species each day. Yesterday I thought we would go for Crossbills and after 30 minutes in a very quiet Sitka and Larch forest at Fishnish we heard them coming!! with their noisy Greenfinch like calls and from then on we had good views of two seperate groups. They always look like they should be connected to the Parrot group with the males in their very bright red plumage and the females in their green. The heavy head and twisted bill is also like a small parrots. We also saw an otter on the way to Fishnish where it rained eventually but as expected it was a beautiful day out here on the West of the Island. If you move here always live in a house facing west and not east. Ask me why when you are up here next time !!
I dont think I have ever seen Mull looking more colourful, atmospheric and difficult to describe in words. Out from my office right now there is the lightest breeze wafting the grasses and dappling the distant sea. The clouds above the sea and south Mull are puffy light grey with an absolute blaze of sunshine bursting through and lighting up the Island of Inch Kenneth and the sea beyond. It is all simply beautiful. On the wildlife trip the other day we had two otters tumbling in the surf about 20m offshore and occasionally trotting onto an islet to eat something bigger than they could handle in the water. Gliding from a mile away the striking silhouette of a sea eagle came right over us and onwards along the coast as a great northern diver still just in summer plumage watched from offshore. Coming back from Oban on the ferry on thursday there were still gannets diving and a waiting great skua came off the sea and chased one of the gannets until it disgorged its fish. We are entering winter on a high note here after a realy good late winter, spring and summer.
Right up to yesterday we have had superb weather and taking the grandchildren back ot Glasgow was a glorious run and return through Rannoch Moor and Glencoe. The house is strangely quiet now without Rufus regularly piping up for no apparent reason with ”A is for apple… ap… ap… apple with his little voice rising, then meandering on with his form of the rest of the alphabet. He is only two and a half by the way. With his brothers looking on, he then comes up with ”That’s not the point” pauses and then says with his finger pointing upwards ” ”The point is this” but we never get what it is !! This bit is almost certainly used by our daughter Lucy when they are doing something naughty.
Well the sun has gone for a while and today is pretty cold here, dry and rather windy but you know its the best time of year to see otters and both species of eagles. It’s a pity that most humans only ever seem to be looking for the sun when natures wild creatures and wild elements put on such a show here, on a rather quiet Island now.
It could well have been the best day that we have had throughout 2013 today. The sea has been as flat as a pancake all day. The lighting and colours have been a photographers nightmare because you don’t know which way to point your camera ! Here we are at 5.30 in the afternoon, the Hebridean Princess has lifted her anchor just offshore from here having spent the night lit up like a Christmas tree reflecting on the water and has headed out toward Coll, Tiree and beyond into this magical evening and no doubt stunning sunset later. Words fail me as they do now because at times Mull and Iona from the house look like some alien and over the top beautiful place that most will never get to see. Wildlife wise the children are all having a whale of a time, particularly at the swimming pool today. Charlie spotted a slow worm also, the odd swallow is still lingering, as are wheatears and there are a lot of great northern divers here for the winter now. They may head back north as they could think this is The Canary Islands because of this weather.
Well it all feels like most of this year with wall to wall sunshine, very dry and at worst, light winds or none !! The children are loving it and always do. It’s another famous five day I think and off to our friends Sue and Phil at Loch Buie where they have lots of animals and a big grey sandy beach. I have always loved children like our eldest son Timmy and find them as fascinating as dolphins !!
It’s like going back to mid summer here with no wind, clear blue sky each day and whilst coldish in any wind it is really warm again out of it. As it was at Carsaig today where we took our three grandchildren Sonny who is 9, Charlie who is 7 and Rufus who is a real handful at 2 and a half. We have all caught the sun looking for fossils and saphire fragments on the beach. I once found an amber bead there but lost it and always regret it. We have the children for a week and they love their ‘Famous Five’ adventures here of course. Last night I asked them what they most liked about coming here and they said ”the house has lots of room and it has an upstairs” !! There is still plenty of wildlfie around of course even though I am not running any trips because of the children this week. On the way to Carsaig we saw a number of eagles but honestly the weather is simpy magic and going to last. From my office right now, yes I can hear Rufus in trouble again but the entire expanse of sea is flat and blue with all of the distant islands showing a dark reddy brown as the sun drops. The sky is cloudless with a band of gold over the horizon and then pale blue everywhere else. It’s all about north or easterly winds again and so more of this please Mother Nature.
Yesterday I was invited for lunch at the Isle of Mull Hotel by Speyside Wildlife and Wild Scotland to talk to people from Norway about how we run our willdlife tour business. Needless to say that their English was better than my Norwegian ! It seemed to me that they had a terrific range of wild creatures up there from bears to arctic foxes and excellent accommodation but for some reason they lacked the actual guides to take people out. I enjoyed the afternoon very much and I took them out for 2 hours to try and find some of our wildlife and so it was a challenge but we saw a sea eagle sitting and one flying, a roaring red deer stag with his harem, fallow deer and best of all an otter, when with only two hours I could have found them nothing of course. They kindly gave me a portion of Reindeer heart which a lady who I think was from the Sami people, said they had with coffee also?? I hope to try it tomorrow but probably not with coffee !!!.
Not such perfect weather today but really a perfect wildlife trip.
Up to the National Scenic Area to start and a female hen harrier crossing the road over our heads to then give long term views quartering the hillside. A really good otter sighting as it rolled around on a big seaweed covered rock and then set off along its territory. Raven, buzzards, kestrels etc as we went over to the other side of the loch and then mergansers, goosanders, turnstones etc. No sea eagles or golden eagles yet but then it kicked off with two golden eagles above a hill swooping up and down and a young sea eagle going close over us. From then on lots of sightings of the eagles but most interesting was the repeated swooping and diving at something on the ground by two golden eagles maybe 30 times and more, near the top of a hill but just behind some conifers. We left them there but still have no idea what it was all about. Laterly we had another harrier and a golden eagle but eventually the fabulous male hen harrier spending some time hunting in front of us.
We have been waiting with baited breath for the driving wind and rain much, predicted by the BBC. Well it never happenend again! Today is glorious, sunny and calm. I had to go up to Tobermory to have my regular Public Service Vehicle check yesterday and on the way saw a really close otter rubbing himself on the seaweed and on the way back one of the sea eagles in this romantic pose of sitting way out on the big shingle beach at Killiechronan, which they do a lot in Winter. An hour ago two golden eagles were gliding along the hillside behind the house and regularly alighting and being pestered as always by buzzards, ravens and hooded crows.
I have been asked to meet with a goup of Norwegians for lunch on Tuesday, keen on furthering their own wildlife tourism image and looking for ideas. Their ‘ product’ already looks good to me. See www.wild-norway.com. The only problem I see is that they need more jaw dropping pictures of their exciting wildlife, which is clearly abundant but I detect the big hole is in their accommodation which does not seem to include any really high quality hotels/ecolodges such as Costa Rica has and we in Scotland should also have to cater for that top end of the tourism industry.