Monday, 25 April 2011

Spring Sights....First Whale!

Hello Everyone, Things are starting to hot up on the wildlife and weather front as migrants are all starting to arrive ready to breed and the tempretures and day lengths are increasing meaning more time to look for wildlife....Great!

Leo the Gdale Owl - Photo taken by John Burton Miles

I will try and keep you up to date with all the sightings down that way as Johnny Milo is keeping me posted.
The main highlight so far has being a Long Eared Owl roosting in a viewable location and in the last couple of weeks over 200 people have been upto see the stunning owl. That can be the value of wildlife....
Other spring sightings on Gdale have being Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler,
Short Eared Owl and Redstart.

GN Diver, Loch Spelvie

I went down to Croggin with Criag McD on my day off. Croggin is down in the south east part of the island in a very remote area with only a few crofters living off the land present there. We had a walk onto higher ground when we arrived to look for some old house remains as Craig is a true Mulloch and his family have lived on the island for generations and his great grandparents lived in Croggin and he had a photo from back in 1910 of the location they lived so we went to find that spot.
We had Goldie and WT Eagle in flight on the other side of Loch Spelvie and a Great Northern Diver in breeding plumage showing well on the loch itself. Chiff Chaff singing as well.
We found a good number of croft house remains with fantastic views looking across to the mainland and Oban. There was over 10,000 people living on the island towards the end of the 19th century and after bad harvest and crop seasons which created famine the land owners removed all the lodgers and replaced them with sheep which would have more value to the estate tenants.

Red Throated Diver, Aros Peir

Large Cat sighting

On an evening jolly to Langnamull beach on the north part of the island I got the fright of my life as a huge cat ran past me and into the Larch woodland. I managed to get a record shot before it went into the dense woodland and automatically I thought it has to be close to being a Wildcat. After looking into it more I think it is something different as it has not got pure tiger stripes or the clear thick bands on the tail. The size was good enough and the cat seemed very wild. When I sent the photo away to get checked the response was a possible Norwegian Forest cat! Which can be bred for pets in the UK and of course could now be an escapee.

Glengorm is not far from where my Cat sightings have being and also near to where I am staying on the north part of the island so I am going to spend some nice summer evenings up there! I have got a carmoflarge top and a decent torch to try and pick up eye shine at night so im good to go!

I was sent this image by the Wildcat Association - Norwegian Forest Cat

Bottlenose Dolphins, Tobermory Harbour

For the second time in a few weeks a group of Bottlenose Dolphins popped into Tobermory harbour to entertain the people in the area. There was at least 7 counted putting on a great display for a good half hour. There has been other reported sightings of Bottlenose Dolphins off the coast line of Mull ranging as far down as Iona which could well be the same group.

Razorbill near treshnish isles

male Wheatear

Was off on the 16th of the month but decided to go on the 7 hour whale watch trip anyway and help out. A nice trip to the Cairns of Coll with only a small number on board. Still a bit early for Whales as did plenty of scanning with no joy. Nice views of WT Eagle, Great Skua and also a single Common Scoter.
On the evening we had a BBQ at Jimbo's house with their family and other SLS guides. Nice food and plenty of games of Swingball in the garden. It was nice to meet Gordan Buchanan who's sister Maggie is married to Jimbo the SLS head Skipper. Had very interesting talks with him regarding Wolves and the potential of a future introduction to Mull or Isle of Rum. I showed him my blog as well and he looked impressed.....or he pretended to look impressed anyway!


An eventful trip on the 21st of the month and it was a 7 hour Whale Watch with 11 punters on board but it started on a sour note as the trip had to be delayed by an hour because of very poor visibility with the thick low lying fog. We eventually got away after 10am as the fog had lifted slightly but when we arrived at Ardmore point it had got worse and half an hour in and were yet to even see a Gull!
The sun burnt through and it was clearing up as we made our way around the north west part of Mull and I could finally point out some landmarks as well as appearances by Porpoise and Fulmar got us going!
We arrived at the Treshnish isles for lunch and as popz the skipper walked back up into the wheelhouse to get going again.....Whale!....done. A Minke whale breaks the water 100 yards from the boat! I knew the day would get better! It surfaced a couple of times but with food very scarce this time of the year it was doing a lot of foraging under the water. The only downfall was that two lovely enthusiastic older people at the back of the boat did not get to see it as they couldn't make it up the stairs and the whale was surfacing in front of the boat. I was quite upset they missed it but I think they had a great trip anyway.
On the trip back there is always a lot of pressure off when you get a great sighting like that. started talking to one particular lass on the way back and found out that she only came upto Scotland to try and see Wildcats! and you know that I'm mad on Wildcats at the minute, and she was hot...and from Yorkshire! So I was like come on Ewan get it locked...but then I noticed she was with a lad that I didn't know if he was brother or boyfriend? So I kept an eye on it (while I was scanning for whales of course!) I later seen them shnuggling up on the seat so I was pished off! I was going to kick him overboard but I'm a professional Guide and that would not be the best move! :-)....Oh well plenty more whales in the sea.....I hope there is for this season any way!

the island of Eorsa on LNK

On the Friday bank holiday we had two shorter trips and an amazing experience with associating Porpoise on both trips. This is where they will approach the boat and swim around it very close to the surface as well as coming upto breath. The waters were really flat calm so you could see them swimming under water which was a joy to watch!
Leeds drew 0-0 with Ricky Gervais Reading on tv and we were out of the playoffs for the first time since November.

GN Diver, Loch Na Keal

On the Sat 23rd I met up with Craig Shaw and his wife Rachel at Salen as they were up for a few days during easter. We spent a good hour at Salen where we got GN Diver, RT Diver, Whimbrel, Wood Warbler and Black Cap singing. We moved on and Craig demanded WT Eagle and Goldie so we headed off to the best potential spots to see them and within minutes of arriving to our first port of call a WT Eagle flew directly above us showing really well...great timing. We headed off to look for Goldies and after visiting a couple of sites we got success when 4 appeared over the higher ground and I had 3 in my scope at once! They locked talons for a split second as well.
A great few hours birding and Craig improved on his impressive list while in Scotland where he got the first Gargany record for Mull as well as all 4 Grouse species, Crested Tit, Osprey, Corncrake and Ring Ouzel.
The following day I met Craig and Rachel in Tobermory and we went for a wonder down the main street before they kindly invited me for a meal at Mcoggans in Tob which was v nice! cheers again lad!

Croggin looking out to Loch Spelvie

Monday the 25th and it was off to Kilhoan, Ardnamurchan to see Cain and friends who were up doing some filming for their degree course. Got the ferry over in the morning and when I met them at the camp site we headed off to the point and the lighthouse to look for Otters and anything else. We had Gannet and GN Diver out to sea and we came across a Mink that they got nice footage of. Onto Sanna bay next where we got Sand Martin, Greenfinch and Buzzards on higher ground but no Otters or eagles. Went for a swim on the beach which was very refreshing but testicles disappeared into their shell which wasn't comfortable and mouthfuls of sea salt is never good! Got the last ferry back to Tobermory and finding out Leeds had lost to Palace 1-0 had dampened my spirits a bit after a good day.

Golden eagle at Croggin getting mobbed by two Hooded Crowes

On the Tuesday it was a 7 hour whale watch and we where joined on board by Cain, Rachel, Ciera and Steve. It started well with Porpoise and WT Eagle. We headed round the north west part of the island towards the Treshnish isles. When we stopped at the collection of islands for lunch we got Great Skua and Dunlin before moving north again in search of a whale. We got a tip off from another whale watch boat that there was a whale seen just off north mull so we cruised up to get to the area asap but by the time we got there the whale had moved on. We got a 2nd year WT Eagle in flight right next to the boat which was a big highlight on the way back. It was a good trip all round and it was great to have Cain on board even though I think his ginger beard put off some of the other punters! he will be back to help out on the trips in July for a couple of weeks and I cant wait. We are going to be out every evening til dark and beyond looking for Wildcats, Eagles and a lot more!
BBQ on the evening at Aros park with Ruth, Lydia and Ruth. We played cricket afterwards and Lydia the beaver monster is surprisingly good with the bat.

Croggin, Croft house remains

I was off on the Thursday So I headed off to see Cain and crew at Kilhoan. When Cain picked me off from the ferry we got Golden eagle straight away in the higher ground. Also a Red Throated Diver in the bay which Cain got some footage of. We decided to tackle the biggest peak in Ardnamurchan which was Ben Hiant at just over 500m. A good climb up and superb views at the top in every direction. A great game of eye spy to go with it which I dominated. It was quiet on the wildlife front with just Gropper Warbler by the car and on the way to the ferry for my return to Tob we got a male Sparrowhawk road side on the fence praying on a Warbler in our view.

Mishnish Loch


Thanks for looking and my next update in a week or two will have all the latest sightings from up on Mull as well as Back down in Gdale where I will hope to get down to at some point. A new camera could be lined up also in the coming weeks so look out for some improved photography skills! You can also follow the Sealife Surveys blog that I will be doing throughout the summer as well which includes sightings and happenings on the trips. Cheers!


  1. haha I wondered why I was getting some funny looks, the knowledge that seeps of that beard must be just too intimidating. Can't wait for the summer !