Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Life as a Mullock....

WT Eagle....

An exciting two weeks up in Mull at the end of June it was! I travelled up to help out at the sea Life Surveys an organisation based at Tobermory in researching the marine life in the waters around Mull and also to provide the public with a chance to view the wildlife such as Minke whale, Baskin shark and Dolphin species.

Gannet sitting on the water

The trip started with fireworks as on my first day and first outing to sea we got 2 Minke whale approach the boat at nearly touching distance! boom! I did not know where too look it was magic.

We also got good numbers of Baskin Shark and Porpoise as well as WTS eagle sat on edge of connifer woodland.

Minke showing well!

Beach BBQ on the evening to celebrate the longest day with great new friends I met at Sea Life Surveys and a midnight dip in the seas topped off a great first day.

On the trips in the following days we had continued success with wildlife sightings including Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Great Skua and Puffin.

Cairns of Coll...Paradise Island!

On the 7 hour boat trips we did an island stop off (weather permitting) and the Cairns of Coll is a special place to visit with its white sea shell beaches and crystal water. A good number of Common Seal have also taken residents their and also GBB Gulls are Kings of the castle in the small collection of islands.

A Common seal and pale pup is pictured above and it is funny to see a young seal with its white coat which was a benefit during the ice age period for carmoflarge against predation but since the ice has retreated the pups still have the white coat for a two week spell.

It is a great place and when your on the isalnd it self you can never imagine your off the west coast of Scotland, but the fact of everyone wearing jackets and layers is normally the give away!

The seal were very sociable and inquisative which made the experience all the better. They seemed very relaxed and settled on the collection of islands but it still dosent mean that they are completly safe as a family of Orca Killer whales had been spotted around Coll during my visit.

I was staying at the youth hostel at Tobermory and the evenings would consist of eagle spotting, Wimbledon and World cup games but one evening after watching the conclusion of the longest tennis match in history I decided I have to get out so an Otter watching trip was arranged around the northern part of the island. One American fella who was staying at the YRA was keen to see them so it started with just the two of us and as we were chatting other people got involved and it ended up been a full car load including two Aussies and a guy called Chris from Wigton near Carlisle! haha small world indeed. Chris's mate was gonna join us as well but although the polo was full and the fact that he is 6 foot 8 the guy would have to stay back at the YRA and have a game of twister by himself. Anyway we headed off down to Salen for a quick otter stop and after five minutes scanning I spotted one moving through the water with its tail visible but I had 4 people around me rambling on about a load of nonsense and the Otter soon dropped and was never to be seen again.
I did explain to them that that you need to be completely silent when looking for Otters as their hearing is impeccable even under the water.
We moved on continued round the northern part of the island and I highly enjoyed the Aussie banter on the way round winding them about mighty England been Ashes champions and World 20twenty champions stuffing the Aussies in the final! We got roadside Red Deer sightings and stopped off and got Basking Shark by the bay but realising the hostel closes its doors at midnight and the fact that this trip took a lot longer than it should of we got a move on to get back before 12 or we would be sleeping on the harbour.
We got Tawny Owl on the way back which they enjoyed seeing but they still were moaning at the end of it about lack of Otter but I told them it was there own fault for jibbering on but least I got to see it! haha, Anyway we made it back to the YRA for 11:45 so I timed the trip to perfection!

A shorter 4 hour boat trip outing at the end of the week was a great success with a swarm of 40 Baskin Shark surrounding the boat! Also a man on Board demanded good views of Eagles and I said I cant promise anything but i'm telling you there is a chance! Funnily it ended up as the best views ever with the eagle flying directly above the boat 15 yards above and also landing on the rocks by the lighthouse giving good views. If the fella wasent happy with those views I would of kicked off the boat but luckily he was delighted.


Got Minke on the 4 hour trip which also appeared close to the harbour on our way back and gave everyone a nice smell of its cabbage breath! So another great trip with happy punters.

Stinky Minke!

A day off on Saturday and a trip down to Isle of Iona with Mandy the Aussie that came on the Otter trip and also came on the shorter whale trip the previous day where we had a big disagreement on the boat regarding Steve Irwin the Croc hunter and the simple fact was that she was jealous of the most famous Australian ever. We also disagreed about Harry Kewell as I think he is a moron and about Shane Warne who I also love and she thinks is an idiot so Mandy and I had plenty to discuss anyway on the 2 hour trip down to Iona.

On the boat trip across to the island it was chocka block full of Americans going over to see some famous abbey but I was more interested in the chance to see and hear Corncrake! so each to their own, if we were all the same then life would be boring! but id still rather see Corncrake!
Got to hear the amazing call of Corncrake on the rainy island of Iona and had a nice walk around the golf course (a sheep field with some flags scattered about) so thanks to Mandy had a great time.

Sedge Warbler near Dervaig

On the Wednesday the boat trip was booked out privately for the Mull Birding club so I was looking forward to this voyage because their my type of people minus the beards! I'm not saying their anything wrong with having beards i'm just jealous because I cant grow one! when I do try a strong wind soon gets rid of it! Their was some impressive beards on board...and the men's beards were even better!

Anyway I met some interesting people on the boats in particular one bearded person I spoke to she had some interesting things to say regarding eagles in the island. I also met Pam a lady who runs the Discover Mull wildlife tours and she very kindly invited me on her trip the following day to help out with spotting wildlife and to see some new parts of the island.

Digiscoped Goldie (click on pic for larger scale)

I met Pam and the group at half nine on the following morning and it was a good day all around as we got Golden eagle, WT Eagle, Otter and a Breaching Basking Shark! Where we seen the WT Eagle at Loch Na Keal there is a new company started this season that provides boat trips on the loch and they provide fish thrown off the boat for the eagles to come and feed on and it has proved very popular this season with tourists and mainly photographers.

Their is some debate about the new set up regarding inter-fearing with nature but I don't see a problem with it as it creates good tourism and also wildlife and the eagles need to have a value and a benefit to the economy so more people get involved and that people are aware of the positive effect that they can have.

Otter on Loch Na Keal

For the last couple of days of the trip Gary (Rowlands Gill Birder) one of my top 3 mates came up and we camped at Loch Na Keal campsite which is a prime spot for viewing a WT Eagle nest. Are neighbours on the camp site were Big M who showed us some eagle nesting sights last Easter when Gary and I were up. He is also known as the BFG but I can call him that because I don't think he can read my blog as he lives in a tent and wont be hooked upto the internet and the world wide web although he does have his very own tent extension bit ideal for masturbating and playing the flute in!
Our other neighbour was a guy from Stanley I don't know the politically correct name for him although freaky moron does come to mind! ask Gary about him send him a message on his Rowlands Gill Birder blog. Gary did have the same fashion sense as him as they did dress the same so it could be Gary Storey in the making!

Gary came on the Boat for a 4 hour trip on what would be our final day on Mull and we got a treat with 2 Minke whales with eagle eyed storey spotting the first one to win a Mars bar. we also got good number of Baskin shark and a nice view of WT Eagle in flight. ON the way back my own personal highlight was Getting Golden Eagle near the light house holding on the cliff face! its a shame the group didn't get a good view of the bird but just to see it is always a thrill of mine! A great success of a trip and Gary loved it also!

A great time had and met some great new friends at SLS and hope to be back up again soon!