Thursday, 7 November 2013

a golden eagle food pass...

John and Barry's latest children's book due out soon...Screamer the Swift!
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Screamer-Swift-Chick-Books-Miles/dp/1904078583/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383679720&sr=8-1&keywords=screamer+the+swift

A very informative White-tailed Eagle web site from Mull...
http://www.white-tailed-sea-eagle.co.uk/mull-sea-eagles.html

View the first episodes of Tales of Northumberland with film work by friend Cain Scrimgeour
https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/tales-from-northumberland-with-robson-green

New Sea Life Surveys web site now live...
http://sealifesurveys.com/

A beautiful time on the isle as it will be in all wild areas at this autumnal time of the year. A visit from my parents and the dogs in the middle of October was a nice way to finish off the season and on the first day we headed down to the south east of the isle which we covered in the springtime but rain stopped play so it was worth another visit. 

The first port of call was alongside Loch Uisg where we watched a male hen harrier quartering the fell side and as we arrived at the far end of the loch after watching a bird that you would normally associate with an aerial food pass, we saw something to be known as seldom behaviour to wildlife enthusiasts. We got onto a very high Golden Eagle coming overhead and a second bird appeared from the mountains. They suddenly started to drop quite low and when they got the under the skyline you could get colouration on their plumage showing an adult bird and a second year bird. The adult bird dropped down to the ground flushing a first year Goldie which was sat on top of prey which looked like Hare. The adult took flight with the prey in its talons and headed up the hillside as the second year bird followed on before they came together and the prey was exchanged on the wing! Dad verified it as I was watching it through the view finder getting a couple of record shots. An amazing wildlife spectacle, one of my mull highlights of the year and got to watch it all with my dad! We will look into this behaviour in more depth to find out its significance. 


Adult (with prey) and 2nd year Goldie breaking skyline...

Golden Eagle food pass...adult to 2nd year bird...
stunning autumn gully
Dad scanning down at Lochbuie
Thrush and Starling movement...


We carried on to lochbuie where we spent a couple of hours covering the surrounding area which ended up being very productive as well. The first highlight was 14 Whooper Swans at the head of the loch and 400 plus Fieldfare and Redwing in the vicinity. A Sandpiper called once coming from the rocky shore but we could not get onto it. Common...or cant rule out a Spotted. Dad spotted two WT Eagles perched on the other side of the loch with some feral goats grazing nearby. On the higher ground we had another Goldie in flight and an adult WT eagle perched on the skyline. Red deer were seen in good number and Fallow deer in the mixed woodland on the estate grounds. What a great spell of wildlife watching!...nothing beats nature.

A nice relaxing couple of days with mum and dad before they headed south back to Cumbria and I will see them again in December. 



Gannets feeding hard at the fishing bank...

Some good October Sea Life Surveys trips were had covering the coastal areas of Mull. Harbour porpoise were showing well in their traditional areas and all sightings were mature in size. Otters seem to be more active in daylight hours at this time of the year and again some good views were enjoyed by all on board. The eagles have less daylight hours to hunt so again you can have good views at this time of year. Guillemots seen in good numbers throughout the month and the odd Razorbill. Gannets still in the area and one trip in particular we encountered a really healthy hurry of Gannets and Kittiwakes feeding hard for over half an hour. A great time to come on board a marine excursion with the changing weathers and landscapes makes a great nature experience, well done to all the hardy passengers who joined us in October. 


Harbour Porpoise surfacing close by
WT Eagle taking flight...
Tob Otter
Close Otter encounter

An early start on Saturday 26th to try and photograph the Red Deer at sunrise. Richie picked me up and we headed south to get in position in good time and we had lovely views of Red Deer roadside using the car as a hide. We got some record shots and enjoyed views of a large 9 point stag bellowing out to his hinds. We moved on and did a south circuit of the isle and the highlight was 5 Hen Harriers in various areas (2 males,3 females). An adult White-tailed eagle was sat on the shore of Loch Scridain as it lifted off to flush some Greylags into flight. 3 GN Divers in Lochbeg (non-breeder, eclipse, and breeding plume). A Eurasian Otter also seen nearby and a few Stonechats sat on the prominent bracken stems as well. Hooded Crows dropping dog whelks on the hard rocky shore is always great to see. 
A great morning field session with Richie. I remember at the start of the season he was approached by a female at a public establishment requesting a date with him. I told him that one of the first rules in being a good naturalist was to never neglect fieldwork for female activities full stop. He has done well this season, a keen interest, a good eye for spotting and a cracking pair of Leica binos!


Red Deer young stag hinds
A couple of hinds
Grasspoint...


A gww post would not be complete without a night time aurora hunting session so here it is...On October 31st I got a report of aurora winds blowing at a strength of up to 4kp so I headed out to Salen at dusk to get in place and persist in chance of a showing. As I arrived at the bay I noticed straight away that the Hebridean Princess (a local luxury cruise liner) was anchored slap bang to the north of me right in the way with all its on board lights polluting the area. So I decided to head north to Glengorm estate and try up there to see something in a break in the clouds. Its quite a drive up and after arriving at the tea room after half an hour something popped into my mind...have I left the pass heater on in the caravan?? I don't know why that popped in suddenly but I could not remember at all and for obvious reasons I had to go and check so straight back in the car an back south to Salen at a pacey but controlled speed! 
I arrived back and thankfully the caravan was not up in flames and gas was switched off so big relief but what the hell have I been doing this evening? The only thing I was blaming the whole time was that flaming cruise ship! 
Anyway I went further down the north shore with the cruise ship just out of view and waited for a gap in the cloud and again to my frustration it just didn't really move from the northern horizon as it was almost clear everywhere else in the night sky. A window of clear to the north helped my stress levels as I saw a faint glow on the horizon with some dancing columns (a photo can be seen in this post). I staked it out until 1am until the rain came in for the night.


Aurora from Salen Bay on the 31st...record shot
Plenty of rainfall in the month...one of the highest on record...made for impressive water flow around the isle
Tobermory at dusk with Sula Beag alongside pontoon
Eas force...

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