Friday, 6 April 2012

There is moor to life...

Its Thursday the 5th and just after coming in from the action packed moorlands on Mull watching 6 Short-Eared Owls, 3 Hen Harriers and a Golden Eagle in a less than two hour evening spell I log onto the internet to read this article regarding Englands Harriers..Hen Harrier Update...where have they all gone?.
A huge high to a huge low thinking the birds I watched tonight could consist of the whole English population in the future or worse if they are to be extinct as a breeding species. The moors were brim full of life this evening with SEO courtship behaviour with a male bird signing and I also witnessed a male Hen Harrier protecting its nest site by harassing and display calling at a Red Deer stag...amazing.

The English White-Tailed Eagle introduction program has taken a step forward (Link) With the University of Cumbria getting involved in the research and effects of the scheme if it was to go ahead. With the Bassanthwaite Ospreys bringing in 2 million a year during their 6 month visit the income the eagles will bring for 12 would certainly be huge figures. As it is quoted in the Cumberland News article these birds are our lions, people pay huge money to see Lions in Africa, England should have their huge Eagles again.

Anyway the Easter holidays are upon us and the tourism is hotting up along with the wildlife. Also a 20 degrees shift in temperature, more eagle encounters, great sunsets and early season Sea Life Survey trips... 

click on photos for larger scale...

Port Langnamull sunset...
Wispy clouds saturating sunset colouration
On Saturday 31st I headed out with Struth to cover a few sites down by Loch Na Keal. WT Eagle showing well finding good hight with a moon in view on a clear blue sky. 8 Slav Grebes on the sea loch with half in full breeding plume. 4-5 GN Divers and a pair of Buzzards circling overhead. We headed round to the other side of the loch and watched a pair of Golden Eagles with the sun lighting up their stunning plumage.

The sun was starting to drop so we headed towards Langnamull on the glen road and reached the woodland car park in good time to head down to the shore line. Half way to the coast and I realised I had left my iphone back at the car so I ran back to make sure it was safe and there it was lying on the car roof...idiot. I ran back down to meet Ruth and we caught the sunset just in time to capture some nice colours. A flock of 10 Grey Wagtails flew overhead heading east and a single Mountain Hare was down on the beach. As dusk appeared we heard a distinctive squeaking call behind us...Otters! we headed over and watched a family of three working the rock pools for any crustations they could feed on. Back at the car and 5 Tawny Owls were interacting very loud in perfect still conditions.

WT Eagle close showing at Ardmore

This one is for John Milo

WTE and half moon crescent

Over LNK...

Fresh water stream running into the sea...

Rock pools on Langnamull, Otters seen feeding in them later on

Another angle on Langnamull

myself Kayaking on LNK
Me, Craig and Ruth headed out Kayaking on LNK on a lovely flat calm sunny day. Great Northern Divers were heard calling from a number of angles around the loch and a Golden Eagle was yelping on the higher ground on Ben More mountain range, the first goldie I have ever heard! superb. The seals were as curious as ever as we were out on the Kayaks.

Slither moon crescent with Venus

Full night sky over Ben Hiant, Ardnamurchan
Rhuba Na Gall lighthouse with Sound of Mull and Ardnamurchan in backdrop
A clear sky with a small cresent moon showing provided a great opportunity to take advantage of the night sky again. I headed out with Ruth at 8ish after filling our flask of tea we covered the north stretch of the island close to Tobermory to the west of the golf course. I took a few pictures above Ardnamurchan and its highest peak in Ben Hiant. There was a lot of shooting star activity with Ruth and I having a  competition for who could see the most. We headed down the path to Rhuba Na Gall lighthouse and did some more Astrophotography. The atmosphere was amazing with the full night sky, lighthouse in action, still winds and noise of the ocean. A great night and Ruth won 13-6 in the shooting star comp and also 2-0 in the satellite spotting event. When lying in bed afterwards I heard a screeching Barn Owl close by outside.

LNK Sunset with Ruth on Kayak

LNK portrait

Gribbun cliffs on the left, great light
Craigs Landrover parked by LNK at dusk

Goldie through the conifers...

What a bird...

WTE, blue wing tag, female at Ardmore
On an overcast afternoon Ruth and I did a couple of small walks near by starting with the creator walk which is near the Mishnish lochs and is a small climb to a creator loch. A few Meadow Pipits and Ravens on the way up and 2 Ringtail Harriers at the top! Had our packed lunch by the loch and headed back down in the light drizzle. We headed to the west end of the lochs and did another small climb looking over Loch Frisa. A male Harrier appeared from over the crag and Ravens overhead were interacting with their variety of calls. A single Kestrel appeared briefly as well.

SEO, one of six seen in a two hour evening spell

Looking across to Isle of Iona and its famous Abbey...
My friend Rachel from Dumfries and Galloway came to visit for a couple of days and on Tues 3rd we headed down the south part of the island with Craig. We took the scenic route from Salen to Burnessan and with the fresh snow fall the scenery was excellent. We visited the beaches at Fidden briefly and at Fionnphort I got a 2nd year Glaucous Gull near the ferry terminal. Driving back through Glen More we got a displaying Golden Eagle which was Rach's first eagle. She was convinced it was just a Kestrel though!

Durat Castle with Cal Mac ferry snowy western highlands

Durat castle panoramic 

Tobermory looking north
The first SLS trips of season were here starting with a 4 hour on the 1st April. It was a good start as we got 4 WT Eagles in flight together, a single Goldie, Porpoise, GND and Seals. A 7 hour trip a couple of days later in calm overcast conditions produced our first Manxies of the season and also Puffins. We got Porpoise and WT Eagle and it was great being out around Coll again. One of the passangers on board Angella was sea sick for most of the trip and she was very enthusiastic about birds and in perticular Owls. she had never seen a Short eared Owl and was desperate to see one so I offered to take her out after the trip to go and look for some owls. We headed off at 5ish to a vast open moorland not far from Tob. We parked up and straight away we seen a SEO working the heather! We stood and watched on as we got some fantastic view of SEO and 6 in total as I mentioned at the top of this post. Also courtship behaviour and calling from a male bird which again was the first singing from a SEO that I had heard. 3 Hen Harriers showing also with a Male bird harrasing A Red Deer stag producing display calls while doing do as the Deer was obviously grazing too close to the nest site. We watched on as 4 Deer worked there way closer to where I seen a Ringtail drop in and at this stage the Male was nowhere to be seen as 4 huge stags were feeding all around the site.
We headed back after an amazing couple of hours and as I stopped to take a picture of a Raven before realising I didnt have my camera, gaad I left it back where we were watching the owls! I headed back in the car and there the camera was lying on the side of the track, lucky. I am getting so forgetful I think if you had to screw your limbs in place every morning I would just forget too and roll down the stairs ready for the day ahead.
Got back to the flat to find Lydia and Ruth there and we watched Lost Land of the Wolves with Gordon Buchanan. As we watched it I kept thinking about those Deer by the harrier nest and how much Mull could do with a few Wolves to balance things up!

Fulmar showing well from boat

Beautiful bird...
Thanks for looking, our Sealife Survey trips will be going out on a daily basis now so please follow us on Facebook or Twitter for sightings and photography updates throughout the season. cheers

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