Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A Week on the Isle of Mull

As promised here is our Mull trip report for last week. I have just finished going through my 1200 photos and am trying to decide what to include in this post, it's a tough one.

We had some amazing wildlife sightings during the week, Otters galore (at least one every day!), White Tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles, Corncrake, Adder, Short Eared Owl, Hen Harriers, Divers, Waders, Seals, Deer, Hare...........  Sadly despite all those photos no Corncrake pic, he dived back under cover before I could get a shot and the Eagle photo's are mainly record shots as none of them got that close. Anyway more of that later, so where do I start, chronologically I suppose, so here goes............

We had a fabulous drive over from Edinburgh in glorious weather, over Glencoe and then taking the longer route using the Corran and Lochaline ferries rather than the more expensive Oban Ferry, it adds about an hour to the journey but saves a bucket load of money! We arrived at the cottage on Lochdon about 4:30 on the Saturday and unpacked, then settled down with a cuppa to watch the wildlife go by and wait for our partners in crime (Jo & Jimmy) to arrive, they were travelling up from Cheshire and where about 90 minutes behind us.

It's great to sit in a comfy chair, relax with drinks on tap and let the wildlife come to you for a change. The river at the end of the Loch is in front of the lounge window, with great views over the Loch and surrounding hills.

The usual small garden birds were in abundance, but it was great to watch Goosander and Merganser sailing by the window, with Common Sandpiper flitting about, Oystercatchers calling and Curlew wading.

Does it get better than that? (Yes it does..!!)

Sunday 28/04
Tina and myself decide to visit Loch Ba as there had been reports of Slavonian Grebe on there, however the weather decided to take a turn for the worse and in our 2 hour walk (getting drenched in the process) down to the Loch and along the edge, we saw very little. (Sandpiper, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, RB Merganser was about it)

We stopped for a coffee (of course!) by the Mussel Farm in a brief spell of sunshine and were pleased to hear a Cuckoo behind us, quite close, but despite scanning the trees we couldn't find him. Then just before we packed up he flew out of  a tree some way above us and headed away back to the woods at the end of the Loch, so a brief sighting, but a sighting and our first Cuckoo of the year. As we returned to the car a Song Thrush paid us a visit:
We drove back down to Salen, Carignure and on to Pennyghael to find the Stores just to get the lie of the land as we were going out on a Guided Wildlife tour with Wild About Mull on Tuesday and just wanted to see how long it would take to drive down. The real reason though was to try and find the Short Eared Owls on Glen More.
After finding the Stores we turned around and headed back to the Glen, stopping to admire a posing Buzzard:
then had a look at the river to see if anything was about, when 2 male Hen Harriers popped out of nowhere and flew off in opposite directions, we tracked the one in the distance but lost him in the murk as the weather turned yet again! We carried on up the Glen and entered a Blizzard! This didn't last though and the sun came out again and so did a Shortie!
We watched him for a while until he disappeared over the ridge, so back for tea and a Rainbow!

Monday 29/04
Whilst we were doing our own thing yesterday Jo & Jimmy had driven up to Tobermory where they told us about a great Otter sighting, so we decided to go up and take a look, then drive around the coast and do a circuit back to Lochdon.

We were delayed at Salen for a while due to roadworks, but luckily were stopped by a cottage that had a number of avian visitors:

On arriving at Tobermory, we wandered around the Harbour for a while with no luck, until we arrived at the far end near the Ferry, then the first of our many Otter sightings:

You looking at me!

Checking out the RNLI boat!

I think I took half of my 1200 photos here, he was so obliging. After about an hour he decided that he'd had enough and came out on the beach and disappeared into a water outlet, amazing!
After Tobermory we headed north and around the coast, via Dervaig and Calgary, the scenery along here is stunning and we even picked up some Black-Tailed Godwits at Dervaig.

We then headed 'home' over Glen More, with 3 Shorties obliging again.

Back at the ranch this Gull took a keen interest in Jo & Jimmy's car!

Tuesday 30/04
Today we went out with Bryan Rains from Wild About Mull, the link to his blog is on the right hand side of this blog. It was a great day and well worth it, Bryan took us to some great spots for both of the Eagles and much more. I'm not going to say where as that wouldn't be fair to Bryan, but if you visit the island, then book on one of his trips. So I'm just going to put up a small selection of pics from the day.

Great Northern Diver with Lunch

WT Eagle being chased by a Buzzard


Grey Heron



Golden Eagle


Common Seals


White Wagtail


Black Tailed Godwit
WT Eagle


Skylarks 'a courting'
After leaving Bryan we headed back over Glen More to Lochdon and more Shortie encounters!

Followed by a quick visit to Grasspoint, just in case the WT Eagles where about down there, but not today!
Some Red Deer though and the cutest Highland Cattle Calf!

Wednesday 01/05
The plan for today is to hop on the ferry to Iona and hunt for the elusive Corncrake. But first a quick visit to Grasspoint in case the WTEs are about and yes we did find them both!

But on to Iona..
From the ferry we saw our first Razorbill of the year:

We went straight from the ferry to the Fire Station where we saw the Corncrake last year and were immeadiatley rewarded with the call of 2 Corncrake at opposite ends of the field both well and truly hidden. After a short while I managed to spot the closest one then spent 15 minutes trying to get the others to see it!
It never stayed out long enough for me to get a shot, never mind next year!

We decided to stroll up to the north end of the island and have lunch up there. On the way there and back we saw plenty of Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, a field full of Golden Plover, some Black Tailed Godwit, Pied Wagtail and fishing off the beach, some Kittiwake.
The Beach:
Gosh, we must be enjoying ourselves!
Some of the Birds:

We then had a lovely cream tea at the Columba Hotel before a quick look for Corncrake, again heard but not seen. Then onto the ferry and back to Mull.

After the Ferry we dropped in at Fidden to see what was about, the highlight being the Golden Plover:

Two Oystercatchers also performed well:
And a 'Beach' Hare:
Some more Golden Plover:
and an out of focus Ringed Plover with some Dunlin:
Common Seal:
and finally a Lapwing:

We left Fidden and headed back to Lochdon, via a few points along the way which provided:
Willow Warbler

Young Adder

and a Short Eared Owl!
Another drop in to Grasspoint was called for, the sun was blinding, but managed a record shot of this distant White Tailed Eagle:
Can you spot him?

Thursday 02/05
Well the nice weather has gone a very 'iffy' day today, so not many photo opportunitues, a drive to Loch Scridain then Loch Buie via Loch Spelve was undertaken in the rain, just a few shots:
Red Breasted Merganser (Loch Scridain)

GN Diver (Loch Scridain)

Otter (Loch Scridain)

Black Guillemot (Loch Spelve)

GN Diver (Loch Spelve)

Friday 03/05
The weather forecast was a washout and it was spot on! It rained hard all day, so we went up to Tobermory and had lunch at the Fish Cafe on the Harbour (Brilliant food!), but not before our mate obliged yet again:

After Tobermory we headed back to Grasspoint as the rain had more or less stopped, just in case the WT Eagles were about, one finally showed up in the murk and gave me a silhouette on the skyline:
Then just before tea with the light fading an otter appeared on the shoreline opposite our cottage:

So that's it! A wonderful week 72 species of birds seen, plus Red Deer, Hare, Otter, Common Seal and an Adder or two!  We had a final look at our Sea Eagles before heading home on the Saturday morning (again it was raining!)  I will add all the photo's to the gallery over this week, so keep an eye out for the update!

Tina & Tom

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