Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The call of the eagle...

Nothing short of a disgrace, surely some intentional actions, some people just want to watch the world burn...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-22026768

RPs version...
http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2013/04/05/breeding-golden-eagles-in-the-highlands-placed-at-risk-by-out-of-control-moorland-fires/

Follow all the updates from Tristan the Inked Naturalist as he continues his 'Training for Turkey' to help raise money and awareness of the biodiversity disaster in the country http://www.theinkednaturalist.co.uk/

Headed up Ben More at the start of the week with Craig and Ruth as the weather continued in good form so we made the 966m climb. Very dry on foot with a trickle of snow melt coming down the streams. A small number of Skylarks seen and the odd Raven along with a Golden Eagle drifting over the mountainous horizon. At about 2500 ft the snow and ice dominated as we had to tread carefully and pick a precise route to the summit.

Summt of Ben More...

Reaching the top with clear conditions rewarded us with breathtaking eagle-eyed views all around us. A scan for Ptarmigan on the summit was unsuccessful as we made our way back down and had an amazing wildlife experience with out even seeing a species as a Goldie started calling meters from us on the vertical scree that we could not access because of the dangerous icy conditions. A wild Golden Eagle calling paces away up a 3000 ft munro…wow.

GND...This is one for Dave Shack!

The following day I was asked to guide three university of Cumbria students Emily, Emily and Emma around the isle to see and photograph some of the iconic wildlife species. We did a north circuit of the isle and stopped off at a few vantage points on route. Buzzards and a whale skeleton were the first sightings before we did a small walk to Langnamull and got cracking views of GN Divers and a Mountain Hare. Ringed Plover and Rock Pipits by the shore. More than half a dozen sheep forgot to check the tide table as they were stranded on a little skerry for a few hours.


Goldie close up...

Another GND

Ewe didnt check the tide table again!!


We went to Tob for lunch and to look for the local Otter but no sign so we made our way back round to Loch Na Keal for the evening session. We covered the south stretch and got a stunning close golden eagle and 3 Shorties appearing in the golden hour. The girls got some footage of them before we covered the shoreline to look for the illusive Otter. After a cracking sunset we slowly worked our way back scanning the waters edge and on the final few hundred yards of looking we got onto the profile of an Otter feeding on a large rock! A few more cars pulled up to watch it as it continued hunting before taking it back to the shore to eat. I am always amazed at their success rate when they go down to forage, it does not surprise me that they have made such an increase all over the UK…such versatile animals. Great day and a very good species list after 12 hours in the field with the only downside being having to listen to justin beiber in their car!


Last minute Otter!

Emily photographing Otter...

Lismore Lighthouse...

On the Thursday I did some morning moorland watching again to focus on Hen Harriers. Some more good interactions between a pair with sky dancing and copulation witnessed. The more you watch them the more you fall in love with the species and as Don Scott says in his excellent Hen Harrier book, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck with every encounter.


Headed south in the afa to Craignure to meet up with Andy, Dale and Jesse. We headed to Lochdon first of all to see if there was any activity. A cock Stonechat, Mipit numbers building and a few Red Deer grazing so we headed to catch the ferry over to Oban to see if the Sperm whale was still in the area. The largest toothed animal on the planet had been there for five days and appeared to be struggling as every day its chances would decrease. Stunning blue skies with the sound of Mull like a mill pond as we got the CalMac to the mainland.


Lochdon landscape...


Durat Castle...


When we landed we went to the end of the pier and sat and waited for movement. After about 15 minutes the mammal surfaced with its distinct angled blow. About 10 continuous surfaces were taken before diving deep for around 20 minutes. We watched this pattern 4 times and it was mixed feelings seeing the whale potentially suffering as is a lot of nature watching when you see predators killing their prey in brutal ways or you see species struggling to survive in harsh weather conditions or climates, nature is cruel full stop. Since then the whale has made its way out of the bay into deeper waters so fingers crossed it does not get reported in a coastal area again.


A pleasant looking aussie girl came over to comute as she seen us all with our camera gear. Andrews first comments were “shes a belter” in his strong Geordie twang as he was supping on his fudge brownie frijj milkshake. We helped show her the whale and told her all about Mull and what we had seen that week. Her boyfriend came over and Andrew said “look at the state of him”.



Sperm whale in Oban

surfacing close to Yacht

We ate a portion of average fish and chips before getting the next ferry back to Mull away from the easter hustle and bustle of Oban. GN Divers and Black Guillimots from the ferry on the return leg as we went to meet Rachel French who was on the isle for the season working for Mull Charters. We went birding around Loch Na Keal on the eve and the highlight was when scoping a Golden Eagle hunkered down on eggs a Grey Male Harrier flew right past the nest in the view of the scope…insane. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits doing their song flight was other records.


LNK Sunset...

And again...

Thanks for looking :)


7 comments:

  1. Fantastic photos, can't wait to be back in Ardnamurchan

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