Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Saying goodbye to Mull & 100th GWW Post!

I am typing up my 100th blog post and I am raising my keyboard to the readers. I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging for the last four years and I see it as a modern way of recording wildlife sightings and encounters from the traditional notebook format. If other people want to read my blog then that is a huge bonus. 

I started a wildlife blog back in 2009 along with my friend Gary after we were following the Wild about Mull blog based in the south of the isle and preparing for our own trip to Mull. My blog name was decided at a similar time when my brother Jamie arrived back from Australia and his present to me was signing me up to become a 'Wildlife Warrior' at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo helping to protect species and wild areas. I thought the name was fitting for my area of Geltsdale with all the intense illegal persecution the reserve has had to put up with from the surrounding 'Mordor' estates. 

click on photos for a larger scale...

WT Eagle and Raven feeding on some washed up Carrion...

Sunrise in Tobermory...
An Eco Cruz on the 3rd week of September in nice sunshine. A small personal trip with two teachers from Aberdeen and a photographer from Leeds. They were in for a treat as we encountered a pod of 40 plus Common Dolphins entering the sound of Mull and staying with us for over an hour. Even when we stopped the engines they still associated with us playing around the boat. Another trip that I wont forget in a hurry and very fitting for Ruth's last trip of the season! 

Glen More with building remains...

On the 21st-25th I had 5 days of inland guiding planned with Guy and Shonna Broome from Cumbria. It was photography based and the main objective was to target the main iconic species on the isle like Eagles, Harriers, Otters and Red Deer along with anything else we would encounter.

On the first day we started with a viewpoint at Glengorm to see the island as a whole to understand its habitat and landscapes. A brief view of a Male Harrier was seen before in classic fashion it disappeared over the brow. We moved onto a coastal walk and seen a brief Otter before it disappeared again in a flash! We spent a long time in mid afternoon driving around looking for opportunities but it ended up being hard work with the highlight been two Swallows at Laggan Bay before we took the Torloisk upland road getting nice views of a male Harrier. A Ringtail was seen shortly afterwards and we finished the day with great views of an Otter at Croig. 

Lochdon with hunters moon...

Calgary sunset...

Tob sunrise from higher up...
Day two and we headed down to Grass point first thing and the crisp morning light was stunning as we got Red Deer blending into the rough grass. A distant Otter at the point along with Twite, Redwing and Fieldfare. We took a break in the middle of the day as it can be quite flat and in terms of photography getting that nice light at ever end of the day can get some great images. We headed to the north shoreline on the evening to get the crisp westerly light on our side. A distant Otter and a distant GN Diver seen while we sat patiently   

Sunrise down the sound...

Mackerel sky at Calgary

Mackerel sky above Tobermory harbour...
Day three and Grass point again at dawn with more good Red Deer action. A super close encounter with a White-tailed Eagle feeding on washed up carrion on the shoreline was special. Unfortunately Guy was parking the car and missed the encounter. 
I was guiding on a 4 hour trip with Sea Life Surveys at half 11 and Guy and Shonna were keen to come on board as well so that was the plan for the afternoon as we headed out of the pontoon to a calm sea state in the sound of Mull. Our first encounter incredibly was a young Minke whale which came right into us. Our last whale was seen a month previous and traditionally they tend to move away at this time of the year. Some healthy groups of Porpoise were seen as well. On the way back in things exploded into life with two close WT Eagle encounters and when back at the pontoon while taking the team photo an otter swam meters away from us! What a trip and made so much more special that it was this late in the season. Brilliant ..as unpredictable as ever the magic of wildlife!

Popz getting Sula away from the Dolphin!

Spoilt for choice!

Struth and Sula scanning for Dolphins!

Sharky and I on her birthday

Ringtail working the rough grass...

Otter in Croig...

Redshank in Dervaig...
Day four and I had another four hour trip at half 11 so I drove down seperatly to meet Guy and Shonna at Lochdon where we got Deer, Otters and Eagles again at a distance. A group of 15 Jackdaws was a good record for these parts. I headed back up to Tob for the trip and again sunshine and low winds made for great conditions as we managed to bump into the young whale again along along with Porpoise, Eagles and Otters! Wow.  

Stag rounded up some hinds...

What a king!!
Day five and again crisp glorious sunshine with a bit of heat. We covered the south part of the isle this time and got three distant WTEs through Glen More. Loch Schriden produced a BT Diver and Mergansers. We were steadily driving under Gribun cliffs and on the verge was a Chough probing the short grass!! We had been reading about them in the bird report and it is the first record on the isle in 5 years!! They attempted to breed 10 years ago and failed so hopefully its a sign of attempts on the isle in the future. Slav Grebes on Loch Na Keal and round to Treshnish we checked out the dead Minke whale to see if there were any eagles on top of it but no joy and the unattached atlas bone was gone as well. 

A great five days with Guy and Shonna and some superb sightings with the highlights been a Chough and a young Minke whale! I really enjoyed their company and thanks to them both. I am sure I will see them back home in the autumn. 

Chough, Gribun

GN Diver in Eclipse
Mum and dad came up for a few days and sunshine on Monday so headed to the Ross of Mull on the south. WT eagles on the shore south of tob, lochdon fieldfare and redwing and a single Greenshank. Juv golden eagle going through glen more. Went to Finophort but did not bother with Iona and took south road to new territory of Carsaig. Crazy single track road with passing place very 500 yards! Dramatic cliffs all along southern stretch. Took dogs for little walk on the shore. Will be back to check out Carsaig arches! Male Harrier quartering rough grass roadside on way back and two Goldies off to roost through glen more.
Got a takeout from Goldon dragon Chinese and it was the worst food i have had in my life full stop. Utter crap and am not getting any foreign muck to take out again...They even screwed up the prawn crackers! nearly resorted to the weeks old moldy stuff in my fridge.

Fieldfare feeding on Rowan berries

Red Deer stag and hind blending in to the autumnal colours
The next day was wet but we covered a few sites starting with coastal walk at Croig where we enjoyed great views of otter hunting. Walked to small beach to west and it stayed dry. Headed to Calgary beach afterwards but rain came in heavy so quick walk on beach where we got ringed plover and Turnstone in small numbers.

Greenshank, Lochbeg
Had a couple of Eco trips on Sula Crion the following day where we got good porpoise action and superb Otters in the harbour. After the trips we headed down to Killiechronan for the evening and got 4 whoopers Swans landing on Loch Na Keal and also great views of the local Fallow Deer.
A meal at the Western isles and had good old fashioned Fish and Chips! lovely few days with parents and dogs and said goodbye to them on the morning.

Male Harrier, Ross of Mull
One last Eco Cruz on Sula Crion with a female Long-tailed Duck! Also good Porpoise action again. I headed for the ferry after the trip to go back to my native Cumbria after an another incredible season with Sea Life Surveys on Mull. I cant thank them enough for the experiences and opportunities.

Hunters Moon...used power of light before artificial light to target nocturnal species for survival through the harsh winters
Parents and dogs at Croig!
Young Minke in the sound! photo by Guy Broome
You can read head guide Ruth's excellent season review on the SLS web site here http://sealifesurveys.blogspot.co.uk/

Keep upto date with all Mull's sightings here http://www.mullbirds.com/LATESTREPORTS.html

Thanks for looking 8-)


  1. Congratulations on your 100th Ewan. Still as entertaining a blog as the 1st! What camera are you using?

  2. Congratulations on reaching 100.:-) Keep them coming. Glad you saw the error of your ways and resorted to fish and chips!

  3. Thanks very much to you both! Steven I am using a Nikon D90 which I have had for couple of years. A 70-300 for telephoto shots.
    Thanks Brian if you come to Mull anytime soon you will know to stick to the chip van! haha

  4. Wow, I would love to read this one. I find the subject fascinating and would love to know more about the latest studies and research.
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