Were into mid September and the season is cruising by. The trips are becoming quieter but the wildlife is still showing well. Its a great time of the year with the scenery and the changing colours as well as all the migrant birds on the move which is always exciting. We had nasty spells of weather in early September but before that there was a great few days with G Stoz AKA The Rowlands Gill Birder. And if you have clicked on his link you will have realised that he updates it about as often as he has a wash......So I might as well use a few of his pictures for my blog.
Manxie, love these birds more and more every time I watch them. Photo by G E Storey
On the 29th August Gary arrived on the island and I met him at the car park in Tob. He came on the half hour seal cruise where we seen Buster the legend of a Grey Seal that we see on most trips chilling on a rock and his eye balls move more than he does. After the seal cruise G-Stoz and I headed south down to the Ben More estate and a walk down Loch Ba where we got Lapwing and Cormorant. On the way back we got Mountain Hare just east of Knock! We watched 2 in the field and then realised there was another 3 behind us in the woodland.
Minke surfacing right next to a yacht, I hope he was looking and not got his head inside the Daily Mail......Photo G Stoz
The next morning I woke up next to Gary Storey which isnt the best start to the day but never mind things can only get better.....and they did as we had a 7 hour whale watch to come. We headed out in choppy conditions and got Porpoise at Ardmore and carried on west towards Coll. As we were approaching the middle ground....boom.....Common Dolphins approached our boat from the south! There was a count of 20 made with a good few juveniles in there. They stayed for nearly half an hour enjoying our bow waves and also doing some interesting tail slapping behaviour. We moved on after a great display by the Commons and we headed out towards Coll where Gary was at it again spotting the first whale and winning the Mars bar. It was a young Minke and surfaced close to the boat a few times. We headed back towards Mull. Gary was keen to see a Storm Petrel but it wasn't to be. We got WT Eagle and Great Skua on the way in.
On the evening we headed south down to Grasspoint and Loch Buie. The habitat is 'Harrier country' around there and we were not disappointed with some nice views of Ringtails. We found a dead Adder on the road. There is a good number of the snakes on the island but I am yet to encounter one....well an alive one. Next up was an amazing wildlife spectacle featuring my two favourite species on the planet. Gary picked up a large bird circling just above the sky line....Goldie! we watched it for a few minutes flying low over the fell side and then suddenly we both lost it in our scopes. It must of landed or gone behind the valley. Then Gary somehow with his amazing eye sight and awareness managed to spot the bird sat on the ground in an opening. We scoped it and the Eagle was just sat there walking along the fell like a turkey! Then a Ringtail came in and starting mobbing it constantly! Superb.....what a day!
Mountain Hares!....to solve hair loss just draw some rabbits on your head and from a distance they will look like Hares!
Woke up sharing a bead with G-stoz again...its like an episode of My Name is Earl! I would defiantly have said that Gary was Randy! (thats Randy the character not Randy in behaviour!) A four hour trip with 40 on board. Popz announced to everyone in the talk at the start that where we were going today we would be unlikely to see whales......we ended up seeing 7 Minkes in the space of a couple of hours! a record number in recent years! An amazing spectacle which displayed all that is great about wildlife....the unpredictability, excitement and rewards. An Eco trip after where we got Porpoise and a WT Eagle scaring the Herons on Calf Island. We also seen Buster the Grey seal who hangs around with the Common Seals because it is a reetard.
On the evening we did a lap of honour of the north part of the island doing west coast sun set photography. We arrived at Glengorm to watch the sun drop and Gary got the worst photo ever of a ferry at dusk....im going to have to teach him a thing or two.
Seals hauled out at the Carins of Coll.....There is a huge male grey seal at the cairns that is the size of a Horse......my dream is to get a picture of it.....
Woke up again shnuggled up to Gary.....A few weeks ago I was waking up next to Holly and now I am waking up next to a geordie monkey! Its like tradition on Mull now that me and G-stoz have to share a bed as when we came 3 years ago we shared a bed in a little old rusty caravan with a pedo watching us outside from the window. 7 Hour whale watch and it was Garys last day on the island. We headed north round Ardnamurchan and Sanna Bay. It was calm in the morning but wind due to get up in the afa. We managed 5 Minke whales overall! we anchored up off Sanna bay which is a lovely part of the world just north of Ardnamurchan point. Another great trip and we had fish and chips by the harbour before seeing Gary off and it was great to see him he is a legend...
Great Capture Gary!
The next day it was a short 4 hour trip in strong winds. We only managed Porpoise and a few Great Skuas. On the evening we all went to Ruth's to watch Braveheart! What a film it is one of my faves! It makes me proud to be half Scottish!
The river at Knock had burst its banks
5th of September and a Whale watch with 15 on board including Waggy who I had heard so much about as he was an old guide for SLS. After speaking to him I was amazed to find out he worked at Geltsdale for 5 years protecting Harriers. legend! We had a good trip with 3 Minke Whales and 2 Stormies. Waggy told me that Prince Philip set up the WWF for protecting the worlds threatened animals and in the same month he was in the paper for killing 6 Tigers and a crocodile......cock.
Sharky with a slow shutter capturing the motion
Aros park after a lot of rain fall
Lydia after getting soaked by a huge crashing wave....haha
The next day the weather was awful so we didn't have any trips on so we arranged to go on a coastal walk to the west to see the impressive waves coming in. Ruth, Lyd, Dunc, Craig and I were present and Craig said he wasn't coming at the last minute so we cruised down to Salen to pick him up anyway so he ended up coming bringing his little dog that I cant remember the name of. We were supposed to meet Duncan at the steps where ever that was! On the glen road Ruth spotted a male Hen Harrier to the left so we stopped and had a scan for a while but I didn't get it. Just after that we got an Adult WT Eagle flying over head. They were getting annoyed with me for stopping to look for birds the whole journey so Craig kindly offered to drive while I sat in the back of my own car to scan for raptors.
Ruth being daft....again
We parked up road side and headed west towards Treshnish point and there was a little round route walk to do which was in Ruths walking book. When we got to the point we had lunch and the waves were very impressive. Duncans pace of eating was even more impressive as he is officially the slowest eater I have ever seen! A few bites and a thousand chews later and we were on the move again. The highlight was Lydia getting soaked off a high crashing wave and I managed to get the after shot (2 above) We headed further round following the beaten track and ended up going too far following a sheep track and getting lost....which I got the blame for! We managed to find the track again further back and headed up to the higher ground where we found the old village remains of Crackaig with a lot of building remains from when people lived there around 150 years ago. Great walk but I got my feet wet somehow as I was wearing my new fancy Asolo boots which did not do the job so I might pay a visit to Cotswold when I return to Cumbria.
Duncan and Craig approaching Treshnish point
On the 13th we were right in amongst a savage spell of weather so we did not have any trips on. I headed out to Ardmore to visit the hide there and do some sea watching for a few hours. I did not pick up any good birds as such but I did get a family of Otters being very playful and I managed a small video of them as well which was in my last blog post. I got a Golden Eagle and a Kestrel when the rain eased off. Went for a drive around the north part of the island with Dunc to admire the impressive waterfalls on show. Luckily Dunc drives faster than he eats so we made it back in time to watch the film 'The Dark Knight' which is amazing and after watching 'Batman Begins' a few nights earlier we decided that those films rocked!
South LNK road
On the 17th it was a seven hour whale watch with 20 on board. Another great trip it was with 3 Minke Whales far out to the west feeding hard. a Pom Skua was also a highlight. 5 Arctic Skuas and 3 Great Skuas. 2 Storm Petrels together as well. Had a good luck at them and I am sure they were just European Stormies. We did an island landing at the Cairns of Coll and as soon as we landed everyone on the beach it started to rain very hard! A lovely group of people on board and the crew all got a jar of jam as a tip off a lovely Dutch couple. I still cant open mine after 5 days so I have offered to swap my Strawberry and Plum flavour with Ruths Strawberry and banana!
Amazing farm set up south of Loch Na Keal
On the Sunday it was a glorious Raptor day as in the short four hour trip we managed 4 Golden Eagles, WT Eagle, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Peregrines and a possible Merlin! The highlight was defiantly the man on board that didn't smile for the whole trip and Buster the seal had more face expressions than him. I hope he is good at art cos he needs to paint a smile on! I think Ruth had a thing for him though! She was going to ask him on a date to the screen machine but she bottled it!
On the evening Ruth and I went to Ardmore to look for Eagles an again more success with a pair of Goldies looking hard for prey with one stooping at great speed down behind a confiner woodland.
I'm sure Laurie would love to work here!
On the Monday I was off so I headed south down to Lochdon where I got 12 Pochard, 3 Redshank and 10 Curlew on the sea loch. Got good views of a Ringtail Hunting in the long grass to the right of the loch. 3 distant wt eagles in the scope was another highlight! 3 Buzzards as well never forgot the good old Buzzards!
I moved on to Scallastle which is a FC woodland walk up a valley to the higher ground. I have done it a few times and I always really enjoy it. I got 2 kestrels to start things off. Plenty of Jenny Wrens ticking away in the clear felled woodland and also Bullfinch calling from up in the canopy. When I got higher up the rain came down so I just sat under a tree by the river and scanned the mountains. Suddenly the biggest Golden Eagle I had ever seen appeared about 200 yards from me on the cliff face above. circling right above my head before moving at speed to the south. Amazing views! I also got another female Harrier and another Kestrel before heading back down the valley.
I called into Craignure Golf club for a quick 9 holes on the way back. Another Harrier when I was on the first tee! I played OK but shot plus 5 as my short game was lacking in touch.
Fishing on Loch na Keal at dusk....everyone was hooked with this picture
On the Tuesday we had a 7 hour whale watch and possibly the last of the season :-(. Nasty weather so we ended up going down Loch Sunart with more good Eagle sightings and Seals Amazing scenery around the Loch with great colours. Peter was on board a regular SLS guest and he gave me some good info on looking for Wildcats at Ardnamurchan. If I can find a couple of days I am going to head over there and have a good look.
On the evening I went to the pub to watch Leeds united v Manu in the cup. I was the only Leeds fan and there was one supposed manu fan this posh Yachty drinking wine at the bar. 3-0 down at half time and I could of gone home and put my head in the oven. Never mind worse things happen at sea, least i'm still friends with Martin Scott this time.
looking out to the mouth of LNK at sunset to the west
Thanks for reading everyone! The season is fast coming to an end and I could be back in Carlisle in a few weeks time. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family and I am going to join the gym when I get back to get ripped!.....only joking I am just buying a gym card so I get free ping pong. Looking forward to doing plenty of wildlife trips out to the lakes, Solway, Borders and surrounding area with my dad Jonny Milo....This is what were all about.......John has always being wild about the outdoors - Cumberland news Article
I am still doing the Sea Life Surveys blog updates through out the season and you can read my latest entry here with the latest wildlife stories, trip updates and 5 amazing wildlife facts to finish......... Sea Life Surveys Blog