Anyone who has visited Mull for the last two weeks has had had the most wonderful winter weather possible here. With clear skies, mountains topped with snow, no rain, virtually windless days and mirror calm seas and colours, and the Islands sheer variety of moods to die for !!
On yesterdays wildlife trip I had a very enthusiastic crowd and really early on we had sea eagles sitting, while a golden eagle soared above them, aa Jay !!! [ unusual here] Lots of great northern divers, slavonian and little grebes, rock doves, black guillemot, lots of geese.
From then on we had a dipper, 3 golden eagles together and high above us and another on a different territory, around 5or 6 white tailed sea eagles on a an islet offshore, with one of them diving and pestering two otters splashing in the water there, single otter repeatedly catching small prey offshore and bringing it onto shore each time. We had about 4 female and young hen harriers and one male, red deer stags and I am betting lots of other things I have forgotten about !!
Well it continues to be very calm and sunny here , cold at times but pretty windless and so as usual through my office door and all around the house the views of sea, islands mountain’s and the general landscape look quite exotic.
We have been away for a few days attending the Photographer of the Year awards at the North Berwick Seabird Centre, which is on the East Coast of Scotland pointing out to sea and is an appropriate place for such an occasion.
I now annually donate two free Wildlife Expeditions to the winner of one of the categories, and other prizes are donated by other people to someone winning in another category. However all categories have a big environmental slant and the creative little girl that won last year with her photograph of a dandelion looking from its base upwards with all its seeds rising into the air, won again this year and she is clearly just as creative, with a photograph of a lonely puffin standing on an islet looking longingly toward rugged Bass Rock, where they nest. It was quiet touching.
Peter with his very strong North East accent won my prize last year and it was ironic that when he sat down to hear what the judges had voted for, there were just two seats by him and his wife, so Joy and I had to sit there. I then suggested that this might be some sort of omen and he would win the Wildlife Expeditions here on Mull ! And so it was !!! Bizarrely though, yesterday an identical thing happened, and again I suggested that it could be lucky for Peter who was sitting by me !! And it was, because he also won my prize for his category.
What will happen next year I wonder??
So a super and interesting time in North Berwick, with its long strip of sandy shoreline, black islets and huge Bass Rock sitting offshore backed by superb sunsets. Nearly as spectacular as Mull but not quite !
Official Wildlife trip tomorrow, so back to the Ecotourism business and earning a living for me and my wild friends.
Right now I have blazing and dazzling sun coming into my office and it looks a beautiful day out there. But it isn’t, because its pretty cold and huge showers keep pounding in and eating up the sun. So one minute reminding me of The Cooke Islands and then looking like an Arctic wasteland, with pools of water appearing from everywhere you look.
But how can anyone criticize Mull ? When we humans are to blame for global warming and the island can only respond to what we have done.
As I write the sun is blazing in even more now and we have a brilliant white and golden light out over the sea and distant Iona.
Reflecting on what I have just said, maybe Mull, as the living breathing beautiful entity that it has always been, is just plain angry at its continuing neglect by the powers that be here. Everyone thinks and knows that we should be a National Park, with an environmentally aware Board, to manage and care for the Island better than our current community council, who seem intent on us being managed as if this is still the 1950’s, when Mull was just another B and B destination with the odd visitor heading for Iona.
The Hebridean Island’s should be the jewel in Scotland’s crown, but instead they are just Islands of historic neglect. And no one seems to care.
Yesterday was my first serious wildlife trip of the season and it was another visually stunning and fascinating day.
During the trip we enjoyed a male otter at Grasspoint. Adult, young and male hen harriers, lots of great northern divers, a young white tailed sea eagle flying and landing and then peeking above a grassy hill, sitting peregrine falcon, widgeon, teal, goldeneye, mergansers, lots of waders, kestrels, plenty of red deer and a pair of very close and low golden eagles.
Again though, Mull itself stole the show, with big showers and blazing sun, snow capped mountains and their peaks and again with our atmosphere being so clean and clear the colours of the landscape were sensational from the start of the trip to then end of the day here.
It is an awesome and grandiose place here in the Hebridean Islands and my words cannot do justice to it at times, such as now.
We have had a spell of the most beguiling winter weather that I can remember here, with glorious sunrises, star filled skies and super sunsets.
There are so many hidden and fascinating a places to find and explore here. Even if as a resident or a regular visitor, you think you know it all. Well you don’t ! Loch Buie was stunning, big, empty and backed by snow capped peaks , mirror calm sea and landscape colours that are not easy to describe in words
On the way to Loch Buie and despite not being on a wildlife trip, we saw sea eagles, golden eagles and the spectacle of Mull on a sunny calm day in winter was simply magical.
I am absolutely sure that many people who have never been to the Hebridean islands would be awed by the sheer grandeur of it all, particularly when you add the reality that there are only about 300 people actually living here. In fact there are more people in the Galapagos islands than the Hebridean Islands.
After such super weather it seems that early morning we are in for wind and rain again, but with a bit of luck back to sunshine again on Wednesday.
I must check the direction of the jet stream because this is so important and yet strangely played down by the weather people on TV !!??
Easterly winds of course and so lots of winter sun. Our atmosphere is so clear and unpolluted in the Islands that out of the wind it can be pretty warm. But in it !! It is still very cold.
Going over to Glasgow the other day to collect the grandchildren for a few days here, we had heavy snow around Tyndrum which for some reason gets lots of snow when either side of it doesn’t get any. Strange !! Problem was that in the snow I started getting oil warning lights on my screen. As if the snow wasn’t disturbing enough ?
Anyway we got the children and then had to hop around to different garages to get the problem sorted, before heading back to Mull, as the AA officer said that he could not allow us to drive the car until it was sorted out. Off we go then and a lovely sunny drive through Scotland’s mountainous snow capped peaks and down to Oban for the ferry and last minute shopping.
We love having the children and they love the space in the house and exploring the land around us when they spend such a long time in a top floor flat In Glasgow. The air, the space, the sea. wind and sun is just great for them.
We were all out then early morning to check on what my onw friendly garage could make of the AA’s assessments.
All is now well and in more sun I am off to do some work on roadside reflectors to help otters cross the road more safely, with the grandchildren and Joy coming to help install our first trial reflector.
Great shot of our resident golden eagles by the way coming back from the garage and lots of great northern divers in Loch na Keal and visual effects to die for.
Get the suitcase packed and the car ready because it’s easterly winds here for a while and that means sunny on the West Coast of Scotland and it’s islands.
Our eagles will be on to this already, being brighter than humans, and tidying up their nests ready for the tourist season !
It’s not all good news however. I have had a problem with my email links on the websites, as it has been sending enquiries for accommodation and my wildlife trips to someone with a very similar email address.
All is now back to normal I believe and so do try again if you had the problem first time around.
Thank heaven we have lost the really awful weather that has haunted us for some time in each of the Hebridean Islands.
Today I watched ITV for a change to see their ‘This Morning’ show at 10.30 and their short piece on Mull and happiness in the Scottish Islands. It seems we are the happiest in Britain up here and I did my bit for the Island out on Loch na Keal in driving wind and rain with their film crew. I looked more mature than I would have liked and hard to believe that I was once such a good looking young man !!
It’s such a pity that the film crew had to be off the island yesterday because today is another one of those ‘good as it gets’ days, with lots of sun, blue sky, no wind or rain and looking more like a Turner painting than a Turner painting !!
The trip down to Grasspoint today was just so lovely and from there you get great views over a hundred degrees, inland over Mull and snow capped peaks and a flat sea and distant mountains out on the mainland.
As usual I don’t think I can find the right words for today but I do know that ITV’s programme will be very good for Mull, as it looked, even in the rain, very beautiful.
A couple of days ago I was approached by ITV to do a small piece on the recent press releases suggesting that the Western Isles [ Mull is not in the Western Isles] is the happiest place in Britain !! I believe it will be screened at 10.30 tomorrow morning on STV’s programme ‘This Morning’. I can’t remember being my usual controversial self and so it is safe to watch !!
We had a desperately wet, wild and very windy day out on Loch na Keal, where we had just missed a family of otters, which the camera crew would have loved to record. However, that’s nature of course. We also only had a couple of hours to do the piece with the Island at its wildest and each of us soaking wet. It was good fun and funnier still when we ended up in a pool of water and mud, with no sign of being able to get my vehicle out of it again.
However we did get out, with the film crew pushing me from the rear [ the vehicle that is ] and so I might get a few minutes of fame at 10.30 tomorrow morning [ Monday ] and thought I ought to let any of my friends out there know.
The last few days have thankfully been calm and pleasant and everyone is responding to these breaks in the wind and rain.
As I stepped out of the house this morning there was a sea eagle above me, which is a sight on the island that is becoming more and more frequent, for me and for our visitors. Golden eagles are never so easy to observe and if you see an eagle low down in the landscape, it is almost always a white tailed sea eagle and if it doesn’t have the famous white tail, it is a youngster !
Early morning I had a pretty unusual view of a sea eagle. Out over the sea and high was a brilliantly clear crescent shaped moon, with craters easy to pick out with my binoculars. However as I looked, a sea eagle passed in front of it and circled a few times, as if circling the moon, but of course the eagle was only about a mile high. The visual effect was so very unusual and could have won me some photographic competition if my camera had been nearby and maybe just a little bit more powerful than it is !
Woodcocks have also been pretty easy to see. For some reason they like to come onto our single track roads in the evening and one stared me out the other evening halfway down the coast before bouncing into the vegetation. I can only think that they do this because the heavy rain and torrents of water swill bugs, worms and other beasties down onto the roads, in such conditions. Here on Mull I also find that on summer days twite also feed along the grassy edges of single track roads but this may be because of cars speeding past and hitting lots of insects that a breeze then pushes up against the grassy edges.
You see how we are all still learning where mother nature is concerned and we need to learn so very much more than we ‘think’ we know !