Thursday, 19 May 2016

Isle of Mull - April

It has been a fair while since I have posted, mainly because we have been too busy birding and travelling! It's a hard life, but as they say (not sure who they are) "some has to do it"

This post will all be about Mull and our hop over to Iona for the day. The next post will be Wester Ross and the one after that Lesvos.

We stayed on Mull for a week. Usually we stay around Lochdon but unfortunately the cottage that we normally rent overlooking the Loch was taken. So we found ourselves a nice little place in Gruiline.

First off I have to say the weather for our week was amazing, on all our previous visits you could guarantee a minimum of 3 days rain, but this time it was glorious we just had a dull damp day on the Sunday, but after that.. brilliant.

So onto the wild life, of course the main targets (probably should rephrase that) are Eagles and Otters and day one delivered big time! Our closest Loch was Loch na Keal and that is where we had our first White-tailed Eagle sighting of the week and our only Otter sighting.
As we drove around one corner, two Sea Eagles were sitting there, one took off straight away, but the other wasn't giving up his meal of what I think was a Common Gull.
A great start!
We mustn't forget the supporting cast though,
this Rock Pipit gave us good views.
Common Gull
 Curlew and a pair of Teal
So moving on from the Eagles we did a small circuit eventually ending back at Loch Na Keal, en-route there was plenty to see,
Great Northern Divers were to be found regularly during the week,
 as were Oystercatchers of course,
 and the ubiquitos Hooded Crow,
 Pied Wagtail
 and Greylag Goose.
Eventaully towards the end of the day we discovered this chap, sadly the photos aren't brilliant as it was a bit gloomy at this point.

As the weather forecast seemed good for the next day we decided to head over to Iona and a nice walk to what is probably our favourite beach in the world.

We had some good sightings while we sat on the beach having, you guessed it if a regular reader, a coffee! Probably the highlight for me was Great Skua passing through the straight.

Red-breasted Merganser were in abundance on the Lochs as well at the beach here,
Iona is also a great place to see Northern Wheatear, Skylark and Meadow Pipit although for some reason getting a photo of them proved difficult this time around, so here's a Song Thrush to be going on with!
 but actually I did get a decent shot of a Skylark.
A bird we didn't see on Mull but did on Iona was the Rook, so I thought I would add him in here.

Apart from our favourite beach and all the other birds, one of the main reasons to go to Iona is for Corncrake, sadly we were too early this year and they hadn't arrived yet, so to make up for it, here's a photo of some cute Lambs,
no it doesn't really make up for it does it!

After our walk we headed back towards the Ferry stopping at the Argyle Hotel for a Cream Tea and very nice it was too, especially with the Gannets entertaining us fishing in the water between Mull and Iona.

I will condense the rest of the post to the highlights from the rest of the week, we explored most corners of the Island picking up some nice birds and other things along the way:
Brown Hare
 Hen Harrier. We came across three Hen Harriers driving down from Glen More. Two male and a female. One male drove the other off, then proceeded to display to the female swooping, climbing and diving, until she was 'happy' and they disappeared behind the trees together. It was a magical twenty minutes, we felt very privileged to have seen it.
 Goosander, Loch Ba
 Common Sandpiper, Loch Ba
 Grey Heron, Loch Scridain
 Golden Eagle, Glen More

 Hen Harrier, Near Loch Spelve
 Juvenile White-tailed Eagle, Gorton
 Seeing off a Buzzard!
 Canada Goose, Lochdon
 Hen Harrier, Near Loch Spelve
 Brown Hare, Gruiline
 Roe Deer, Gruiline
 Shelduck, Salen
 Highland Laddie
 Royal Navy, Tobermory, HMS Shore, Sandown Class Minehunter
 Short-eared Owls having a scrap!
 The victor!

 Curlew, Gruiline
So that sums up a week on Mull, we left Mull to move on to Aultbea in Wester Ross on the west coast of Scotland, but that's another story.

Mull Bird List:
Blackbird  ("Turdus merula")
Black-headed Gull  ("Chroicocephalus ridibundus")
Buzzard  ("Buteo buteo")
Chaffinch  ("Fringilla coelebs")
Common Gull  ("Larus canus")
Common Sandpiper  ("Actitis hypoleucos")
Cormorant  ("Phalacrocorax carbo")
Curlew  ("Numenius arquata")
Dunnock  ("Prunella modularis")
Eider  ("Somateria mollissima")
Golden Eagle  ("Aquila chrysaetos")
Goosander  ("Mergus merganser")
Great Black-backed Gull  ("Larus marinus")
Great Northern Diver  ("Gavia immer")
Great Spotted Woodpecker  ("Dendrocopos major")
Great Tit  ("Parus major")
Greater Canada Goose  ("Branta canadensis")
Greenshank  ("Tringa nebularia")
Grey Heron  ("Ardea cinerea")
Greylag Goose  ("Anser anser")
Hen Harrier  ("Circus cyaneus")
Herring Gull  ("Larus argentatus")
Hooded Crow  ("Corvus cornix")
House Martin  ("Delichon urbicum")
House Sparrow  ("Passer domesticus")
Kestrel  ("Falco tinnunculus")
Lapwing  ("Vanellus vanellus")
Lesser Black-backed Gull  ("Larus fuscus")
Mallard  ("Anas platyrhynchos")
Meadow Pipit  ("Anthus pratensis")
Mute Swan  ("Cygnus olor")
Oystercatcher  ("Haematopus ostralegus")
Pheasant  ("Phasianus colchicus")
Pied Wagtail  ("Motacilla alba")
Raven  ("Corvus corax")
Red-breasted Merganser  ("Mergus serrator")
Redshank  ("Tringa totanus")
Ringed Plover  ("Charadrius hiaticula")
Robin  ("Erithacus rubecula")
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon  ("Columba livia")
Rock Pipit  ("Anthus petrosus")
Sand Martin  ("Riparia riparia")
Shelduck  ("Tadorna tadorna")
Short-eared Owl  ("Asio flammeus")
Skylark  ("Alauda arvensis")
Song Thrush  ("Turdus philomelos")
Sparrowhawk  ("Accipiter nisus")
Starling  ("Sturnus vulgaris")
Stonechat  ("Saxicola torquatus")
Swallow  ("Hirundo rustica")
Teal  ("Anas crecca")
Turnstone  ("Arenaria interpres")
Wheatear  ("Oenanthe oenanthe")
White-tailed Eagle  ("Haliaeetus albicilla")
Wigeon  ("Anas penelope")
Willow Warbler  ("Phylloscopus trochilus")
Woodpigeon  ("Columba palumbus")

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