Monday, 16 June 2014

Isle of Mull - End of May

Well another trip to Scotland, this is what has become our annual trip to Mull (well that's 3 years on the trot anyway) because we just love the place. The wildlife and the scenery are fantastic although we are later this year than previously usually we go early May, but because of one thing and another we couldn't go then. The biggest downside was the midges, we had hope we would still be too early for them, but the mild and wet winter has resulted in an earlier and bumper crop!

This year though we added on a second week near Crinan on the main land (South of Oban), but I will deal with that in another post.

So as previously we stayed on Lochdon, where our rented house overlooked the Loch. After unpacking we went straight out down the track to Grasspoint to a place where we know we can get views of White Tailed Eagles and within minutes Tina spotted one in a tree on the other side of the valley. It was then mobbed by some Hooded Crows and flew away coastwards landing miles away on a ridge, much to far for a photo, but a fantastic start to the week on the island. As it happens that was to be our best WT Eagle sighting, we did see others but never close up, this is the only photo I managed and even with my 500mm lens you will be hard pressed to spot them:
Anyway back to day one, we headed back towards the cottage stopping at another favourite viewpoint and were immediately rewarded with a Stonechat and a Whinchat, followed quickly by a distant Short-eared Owl and a Hen Harrier
No photos of the Owl or Harrier to far away! We carried on back to the house by which time Jo and Jimmy had arrived and we were able to site outside with a beverage and just watch. By the time we went in we had totalled 35 species, not bad!

Day 2 saw us explore some of our old haunts where we know that we might see Otters, Golden Eagle and Divers. Perhaps it was coming later in May than usual but the Otters didn't show and we only had a distant view of Golden Eagle, we did though find some Great Northern Diver:
If all else fails you can always rely on Curlew, Pipits, Hooded Crow and Mergansers:

And Oystercatchers of course:

Day 3 was a kind of stay at home day we planned a walk along the Loch (Lochdon) from Gorten. The weather was showery and we did get caught out a couple of times. We walked to the point and sat down for lunch when this popped up nearby!!

What a shame it was overcast! Whilst photographing this a Cuckoo landed in a tree some 20ft behind us, I didn't know where to look first, actually I did the Otter of course! After the Otter departed we looked for the Cuckoo but it had flown to a post some distance away:

So the plan for Day 4 was to get the passenger ferry to Ulva and go for a walk, we have never explored Ulva so it seemed like a good idea, we took the scenic route to get there, hoping for Otters on Loch Scridain but again no sign. We arrived at the ferry only to see that the ferry wasn't running due to a family funeral. So we decided to head for Tobermory and get lunch (we had planned lunch at the Inn on Ulva so hadn't took anything with us) The best sighting on the way was another Cuckoo photographed through the car window as we didn't want spook it any more than it was already:

Day 5 took us to Iona. Iona deserves a post of its own. So I'll cover that later.
After Iona we dropped into one of our favourite spots, Fidden, which is only a couple of miles from the Iona Ferry. Fidden is a glorious spot for waders, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Godwit, Lapwing and Whimbrel. And also Brown Hare. So we were shocked when we approached to see the whole area covered in Tents, Caravans and Camper Vans, as a result we only saw a few Lapwing, a Shelduck and a solitary Redshank! Gutted!

Day 6 and off to try Ulva again, this time we made it across and set off along allegedly marked routes. They were for the first hour or so then the markers disappeared and we got totally lost, we had no choice but to retrace our steps, plus we saw very little wildlife,

but we still enjoyed it (I think!) and we did have a great lunch as a reward for our efforts:
Our last full day was another explore around our favourite spots, this time we did get another Otter:
At the same place were two beautiful Red-throated Divers, I was concentrating on the Otter then when we looked for the Divers again they had gone. C'est la vie!

We called in at Garmony Point a couple of times, this proved interesting:

A drive up to Loch Buie provided our best Deer sightings:

Then finally our drive back to the Mainland provided our best Black Guillemot sightings at the Corran Ferry:

Our full count for Mull and Iona was 66 Species, including both Eagles, both Harriers (I forgot to mention we picked up a Marsh Harrier as well!) So not too shabby!

Iona to follow

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