Friday, 19 August 2011

August is a funny month.....

The month of August has always being a funny one in my experiences. It is always very hectic and busy with it being the peak time for the holiday season. The weather is normally a let down and even though there is plenty of day light hours in the month there always seem like less time to do things. In terms of the wildlife although migrants are starting to move and exciting species can crop up. I think its better to focus on the Butterflies and Dragonflies as it is the peak period for them and they will soon be going for another year.

Mountain Hare!

Great Cloud formation over Kilachronan, what type of cloud Gary?

Off on Sat 6th and it was a quick trip to Ardmore in the morning where I got Common Hawker, Speckled Wood and a Golden Ringed Dragonfly. Watched Leeds first game of the season on the evening where they lost 3-1 to Southampton. After the game Ruth and her friend Katy were keen to see some Eagle action so I took them around the north part of the island to see what we could find. We started at Killiechronan where within minutes we got a WT Eagle showing well in flight! We moved on around the island admiring the views on the north Ulva road and we decided to take the upland route from Torloisk to Dervaig hoping for some Harrier or Owl action. 5 minutes in a Short eared Owl started following level with us as we were driving in the car for a good 400 yards! great views! After that Ruth spotted a bird to the left and it was a Ringtail Harrier. She also spotted another SEO and as we made our way back round to Tobermory that was a great success! Just as I dropped them off and was heading round the corner I nearly ran over a baby Hedgehog crossing the road so I took it back too show the girls.

Ruth A and Sally on higher ground looking over Loch Na Keal

Looking across to Ben More Mountain range and Loch Ba

Another Whale watch on Monday 8th and savage conditions with Lewy as skipper and Ruth m, Andy, Sally and myself on as crew it was going to be an interesting trip. only 8 punters were on board as we started with covering the stretch along Ardnamurchan where Andy spotted a potential Eagle sat on a Cairn, with other punters quite sure it was just a human Andy kept an eye on it and suddenly these huge wings came out and it started flapping! We Shouted...Eagle! and we all watched the bird flying on the higher ground and it was an immature Golden Eagle with a strong white band on its tail and white markings on its wings.
It was far too rough to head west towards the open sea so we headed down Loch Sunart which is a deep sea loch that goes into the east. fantastic rugged highland terrain and it is a lovely change from heading out to the open sea. Andy spotted an Otter near Glen more which was being its usual sneaky self and not everyone got to see. We landed on the isle of Carner which is a very small island with a rickety little pontoon. As we parked up and secured Sula Beag we all jumped out and there was a family there fishing off the pontoon and they had a dog that approached us and Andy got a shock and shouted "that dog stinks"! which the family could easily pick up on haha. As we were having lunch a Sparrowhawk flew over which everyone got to see. One of the punters found a Slow worm on Carner as well which was great. Got Porpoise on the way back and a good trip overall.

Cheif Guide and Number two......

Saturday 13th and a Whale Watch explorer with Lewy as skipper. A small number on board and savavage conditions but still ventured out towards Coll. On the way over I seen what I thought at first glance was a Fulmar but after doing a double take I realised it was a large Shearwater species! It would either of being a Great or a Cory's but after looking into it it had a bit more colour to it and what seemed like white markings on its neck so I would say if anything it would of being a Great Shearwater. Landed at Cairns of Coll for lunch and then headed out for the second half and picked up Storm petrel and Minke Whale straight away.
On the evening I headed down to Knock with Andy Tait and we had a walk down the Ben More estate down to Loch Ba where we seen a pair of Sparrowhawks circling above along with a Buzzard. We seen some Lapwing by the loch and then on the way back we got Fallow and Red Deer. On the car journey back we got 3 Mountain Hares just outside of Knock! its the first proper views I have had of our only native Hare and I was delighted to see them! They soon ran off so it was a case of Hare today gone tomorrow!

Minke Whale surfacing just north of Sanna Bay

Me and Hannah on Muck!

Riff, Susan, Ruth, Hannah, Sally and dougie at Muck tea room

Sunday 14th and a busy day ahead with a cruise ship in at Tobermory so it was a 7am start to get Sula Beag ready to collect the first 50 batch of people straight from the ship. As we were pulling up to the ship Lewy was telling us a story about last time he was picking up punters from a cruise ship he bashed the side of the boat as he came in too hard......and guess what happened this time he strikes the side of the cruise ship at pace! I couldnt not notice the smell of human crap as we pulled alongside the ship! I could of spewed! I acted professional though and braved the smell to load all the slow moving punters on board Sula Beag. By the time we loaded everyone on it was pretty much time to drop them off again but we managed porpoise and great views of WT Eagle before then! We picked up the second load of 50 at 11am and got more great sightings with the only problem being a couple of the guests sat inside and read a book the whole trip when there was 8 feet eagles flying over the boat and they were reading about fricking shakespeare or something! does my head in like.
On the four hour trip in the afternoon we had another 40 plus on board and we got the WT Eagles again along with an Otter and Porpoise. During the whole day Sea Life Surveys had over 200 punters on board including the Seal cruises that Jimbo and Sharky were doing throughout the day!

Fulmar assosiating with boat!

Minke surfacing in great light

Tuesday 16th and Riff was on the island! I was off today so we headed down to the south part of the island and across to Isle of Iona. It rained on the way down and I told Riff it would clear in early afternoon and it did that! right on cue. We brought the football with us to kick about throughout the day. We got the ferry across to Iona and had a wonder around before going to check out the abbey. It cost £5.50 to get in but we just cruised in for free and decided if any bible basher asked us for money we would just say we had a word with God and he said we could get free entry.....cheers G!
Played football on the golf course and tried to hit the flag with free kicks but were no Robert Snodgrass and didnt succeed with the best efforts landing on the dancefloor.
On the way back we popped in to Craignure Golf Club for a quick 9 holes. Both played ok although we nearly ran out of Golf balls at one point but thanks to Susan finding some for us. The shot of the round was defiantly my well struck shank that landed straight in the swamp! Meal at the Waterfront afterwards and my throat started hurting and glands got really swollen.

Surfacing right by the baot


Whale Watch on the 18th with Riff on board! Felt crud in the morning but soldiered on. Perfect flat calm conditions and with over 30 on board it was going to be a good day. Headed north towards Muck with lewy as skipper and I picked up the first whale very distant towards Canna. We spent nearly an hour with this whale enjoying great views before moving on to Muck for lunch. In the second half we got another whale and also a Shark as well just for Sharky who was on board with her parents. I seen Riff off after the trip and it was great to see him and look forward to Riff and Raff Re-United in the autumn.
I went round the north part of the island on the evening with Ruth A and Sally to show them some wildlife and the main highlight was great views of WT Eagles.

Tob Harbour with a new bench looking out to it!

On the Friday I woke feeling poorly and went straight to the Docs where some guy just threw me some penecelin and said I would notice the difference in 24 hours, I was not convinced. He said a mild case of Tonsilitis and just rushed the whole meeting and didnt give me much information at all. After researching the internet I found out I had Glandular fever and a nasty case of it.

Morning time at Tobermory

Parents arrived on the Saturday and it was pretty much the worst timing for it as I was just reaching my peak of sickness. Stayed in all of Saturday suffering and on the night time I did laps of my flat all night walking back and forward from my bedroom to the kitchen. On the Sunday watched West Ham v Leeds on the coach and was a great game and a 2-2 draw.

Isle of Iona

Tuesday 23rd and feeling a little bit better. I seen Ruth A off as she was leaving Mull and finishing work for the season. It was a shame to see her go and she was a fantastic guide and very enthusiastic. I went to Port Langnamull with my parents as I was feeling a touch better but it ended up being a stupid idea as the more I walked the worse I felt. It was a beautiful day and we Seen WT Eagle right above us on the beach and we also seen Common Hawker, Common Darter and Golden Ringed Dragonfly. Scots Argus was the best Butterfly we seen. When I got back I spewed up and ended up feeling worse than previous days.

Friday and I was getting back fit again so headed down to loch Ba and Loch Na Keal area with Mum and Dad. Goldie over Loch Ba also Cormorant and Lapwing. 3 WT Eagle feeding on a carcase with Ravens waiting in pecking order near LNK. A merlin flew over as well!

interesting article regarding Englands only Eagle....(click for larger scale)

Thanks for looking everyone! My next posting will include a visit to the island from Gary 'Rowlands Gill Birder' Storey for a few days. Also all the wildlife sightings from the first couple of weeks of September which is a great time with Birds on the move and also other wildlife feeding hard to prepare for the winter season. Hopefully some attempted photography thrown in as well!

Cheers :-)


  1. That was a very interesting post Ewan, I always look forward to your next one. your pics are good and give me a better idea of what Mull is like. I would like to get up there next year with Mrs W, maybe self catering. anyway keep up the good work, all the best Gordon.

  2. Hi Gordon thanks for looking! yes i would recommend mull next year its a great place with lots to see and do. If you come up let me know and I will get you on a Whale watch trip if you would be interested. :-)