Sunday, 22 April 2012

Im not a bad driver, im just dodging Short-Eared Owls...

April continues to produce glorious sunshine and calm winds creating safe nesting opportunities for all the islands birds. Last May a savage three week spell ended the breeding hopes of a certain percentage of nesting birds in the area. All Skye's Harriers failed and Mulls were effected, further south in England Cumbrias only Harrier pair failed and the pairs at Bowland struggled. So this early season weather is vital to give our under pressure raptors the best possible opportunity.   

If you don't live anywhere near Bowland and would like to Follow Eagle Owls through the breeding season then click on the link to watch live streaming of a nest site in the Netherlands. Since our pair were taken away from us at Geltsdale I have started viewing this web cam. Its like having a wife similar to Megan Fox and then she leaves you for someone else so you resort to constantly watching Redtube on the way near as good but will have to do. Link.

A disturbing Headline on RP regarding a Golden Eagle been poisoned Link. Also a positive headline regarding new Peregrine Falcon behaviour and another reason why they are superstars in urban areas Link.  

please click on photos for larger scale...

An amazing Hen Harrier encounter on the road down to salen...
my favorite species on the planet
Eagles get all the glory but sweet baby jesus these birds are special...
Headed down to one of my local stomping grounds in Loch Na Keal on Monday with Ruth. A few miles south of Tobermory we watched a bird take off from a roadside crag and after getting a proper look at it it was a Male Harrier! It ended up flying south following the car for over a mile working the rough grass on its way. At one point it came within 2 meters of the car, amazing sight. We stopped further down to watching it flushing Pipits and unsuccessfully hunting. I managed a couple of photos and I am particularly delighted with the one above!

An amazing calm evening atmosphere down in LNK. I got my first Sand Martins of the year by the camp site. We had a walk on the higher ground above Killiechronan admiring the superb panoramic views. On the way back we got Fallow Deer and a single Mountain Hare.

Grey Heron in Salen...
Higher ground on Killiechronan
LNK Sunset
On the way back from LNK on the same night I got an Aurora report on my phone saying there will be activity in 45 minutes! great timing! Headed to the flat to make a flask of coffee and charge the battery and we headed straight out again. There was nothing for the first 15 minutes but a pale band on the horizon with the naked eye and a green colouration picked up on a 30 second exposure (photo below). A few vertical shooting stars to the north and Venus shining as strong as ever. I was chuffed I didn't fall 5 foot flat on my face this time either so all was good.

Faint Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) from Glengorm looking over Ardnamurchan
GND, Loch Mingery
The trips have had some nice sightings in the early weeks with great views of the resident Porpoise and Eagle double act. 2 Black Throated Divers in Loch Mingery were good to see. Some good feeding taking place by Kitiwakes and Manxies was promising early signs for the season ahead and the Popz the skipper says there is loads of food picked up on the fish finder in the wheel house. Minke whales have been reported already in the last couple of weeks and two separate Humpback reports have came in which is very exciting. A Basking Shark reported by a creel fisherman was another point of interest.

Kilchoan Ferry with Loch Sunart and western highlands behind
Pony Trekking on low tide at the head of Loch Na Keal, Snowy tops on Ben More mountain range
On a day off on Thursday I headed down to Killiechronan to look for Adders as the sun was shining with a nice bit of heat producing good reptile conditions. I arrived at the camp site to watch the WT Eagle feeding on the loch from Lady Jayne's Mull Charters. The tide was low and the Pony Trekking was taking place on the head of the loch in stunning crisp morning surroundings.
I headed to the higher ground to cover an area of south facing hillside with Bracken and plenty of rocky basking spots and cover sites. A good few hour shift produced only one Common Lizard and a flushed Snipe. At one point a Golden Eagle appeared right overhead before been mobbed by a territorial Buzzard. Got back to the car and as soon as I was about to get in...'Cuckoo'...fantastic great to hear again! In the car on the way back driving through Salen I got two Swallows and the first of the year!

Goldie getting mobbed by a territorial Buzzard
Puffin taking flight
Bloody Bay, Kilchoan and Isle of Rum behind
Basalt lava rock formation with Bloody Bay behind
Calmac ferry with Kilchoan and Rum behind
Fishing vessels tied up at Tobermory
A few trips out to my new moorland vantage point produced huge numbers of SEOS (as you can gather by blog title) Good Hen Harrier action and a huge number of Willow warblers arriving on the island. A Common Sandpiper at Loch Frisa as well. We watched a figure appear from the rough grass which we could not identify but as it appeared closer it was just Nick Davies carrying a Deer antler and a wheel trim...

What is it?? its Nick Davis emerging from the rough grass with a wheel trim!
Kilchoan ferry
Pony trekking with Gribun cliffs in the back drop
looking south west down Loch Ba 
North Face Tent!!! forget the Gilets this is the real deal!
A wise old Owl thinking outside the box!
On saturday evening Ruth and I headed to croig on ANOTHER lovely sunny day on the isle. Just outside of Tob we got very excited as we seen a North Face tent in yellow! Of course the logo was huge and I am sure there will have been some hard core adventurer inside ready to tackle the slopes of....Tobermory main street. I checked the Boxes near Dervaig to find a wise Barn owl thinking outside the box! First Barnie on the island. great to see. We arrived at Croig and started heading west and straight away got a single Swallow overhead. Further down the lane a lovely pussy cat came to say hello, it was very friendly and had a lovely personality.
A rain shower came in producing a nice rainbow. A single Ringed Plover was on the beach as we waited to watch the sunset. The rain picked up and we sheltered in a near by cave before carrying on. Our friends from last year Peter and Beverly weren't in the house that we met them in last year so we carried on back to the car. One sighting on the way back guessed it a Short Eared Owl. We sat on the fore shore at Croig to look for Otters but no joy, only thing that happened was Ruth slipped on her bum.

Beach at Croig, Ringed Plover nesting there
Sunset over Coll...
Thanks for looking everyone, I am going down home to Cumbria for a spell next week so looking forward to covering a few sites down there. I would like to see the Ospreys at Threave or Bass lake as well as checking up on the local Gdale wildlife including Pied Flycatcher, LEOs and the Badgers. Cheers


  1. Fantastic pics again, those Harriers had better be around when we come up next month, by the way we have an otter on the pond at Thacka, been here for a couple of weeks now.
    All the best Gordon.

  2. Hi Gordon! I am sure the Harriers will be around for you! Good news about the otter, Im down in cumbria for a week so hoping to get some good stuff while im down here, maybe see you on mull next month! cheers, Ewan