Sunday, 22 December 2013

Winter Wildscapes on Mull

The importance of the Goshawk in our countryside...

60 years since official raptor protection but what has changed?

Phil's blog covering the north east and further afield...

I finished my month on Coll focusing on the dark skies and headed straight back to the isle of Mull for a weeks wildlife holiday with some friends. I had just spent 7 months on the isle and I couldn't think of any where better to go than back to magical Mull it self. 

On the ferry across to Oban the highlight was a WT eagle lifting off a skerry to do some fishing. It looked like a routine catch and the bird was straight back on the skerry with the fish. Porpoise seen in the sound of Mull along with GN divers and Guillemots. A good number of Kittiwakes seen throughout the trip. 

The Oban - Craignure ferry got me to Mull in the evening and after arriving at the wrong house going to Dervaig road not the road to Dervaig I made it the lovely cottage south of Dervaig on the glen road. Cain, Phil and Ciera were already there with Andrew arriving on the Sunday morning. 
An otter approaching the shore on a flat calm loch na keal...
On Sunday 1st we headed straight down to the productive area of Loch na Keal and it was a fine day with low winds and sunny breaks in the cloud. Slav Grebes, Black Guillemot and GN Divers on the flat calm head of the loch. There was plenty of agitated Gulls at the fish hatchery and we found out why as an adult WT eagle was perched nearby on a stump with a juv bird flying off away from us. Displaying Mergansers further down the loch was a real great show with some amazing elegant behaviour by the drakes.
We moved on down to loch Scridain where we enjoyed nice views of an Otter and Hooded Crows dropping whelks from height.
We did a circuit of the south side and headed down to Lochbuie which is a gem of a place on the isle offering a bit of everything. More GN Divers showing well and an Otter being as illusive as ever. Feral goats picked up in the scope and Fieldfare movement overhead. Cains driving was so reckless on the way back that he managed to burst a can of Irn Bru in the boot and it exploded everywhere!
Close encounter feeding on the rocky shoreline

reverse waterfall! force 8-9 westerlies producing upside down waterfalls around calliach and treshnish 
 Monday 2nd and the highlights were a pair of Shoveller on the head of Loch na Keal, a very good record for the isle. Also on loch Scridain while watching a foraging Otter a female LT Duck came and landed close to the shore. A pair of Golden eagles were circling inland, always a pleasure. At Lochbeg we got a lone Greenshank and 124 Golden Plover on the mudflats at low water.

Tuesday 3rd was a damp day as we headed into the big city of Tobermory to buy Braveheart and have a pub lunch. We got three ad Whooper swans at the Mishnish lochs on the way back. As we settled back in for the evening and put on the best film ever about half way through I checked the skies out the window and it was clear! We got our gear together and headed to a viewpoint to the north as the skies stayed clear we did some time lapses and took in the stunning dark skies. 3-4 Barn owls were seen on route which was a bonus.

Frijj on loch na keal with the snowy peaks towering over the sea loch
Wednesday 4th and we headed to the south west peninsula known as the Ross of Mull. On route he had a female Harrier hunting near the car. A Greenshank at Pennyghael and a male Hen Harrier further down the Ross. When we arrived at Fionnphort he had lunch and watched a very close female Harrier hunting the hedgerows and verges, amazing close views as we used the car as a hide. We got 120 Barnacle Geese down towards Fidden as well. 

Thursday 5th, after force 10 winds through the night we took it easy in the morning and enjoyed watching a Woodcock in the garden while having breakfast. We headed out to the north west side in the afa to check on the big seas. Treshnish first of all and the highlight was the reverse waterfalls going straight up! amazing. We headed on to Calliach point to do another coastal walk and had 4 Barnacle geese there with Greylags. Another amazing close Harrier view this time a male bird on the Calliach farm road...just stunning.

Down at pennyghael with golden light
Cain, Ciera and Frijj watching a golden eagle
Friday 6th, Snow had fallen through the night as we headed down to the mountainous areas around Grulin. More amazing views of Otters and a WT eagle staking out for Salmon on the river Ba. Goosander on LNK and Fallow deer in the woodlands around Knock.

A great week with great people and we managed 70 species of birds and 8 species of mammal. Thanks to Phil for keeping track of those figures because I would of defiantly got confused and lost count by myself!

Off back to my native Cumbria for xmas. I will miss the Hebrides as I was there since March and I feel really at home up there now. Look forward to Cumbria though and spending time with family and I also have some really close friends in the north of England. 

Phil, Cain, Ciera and Frijj...

Thanks for looking...


  1. Have enjoyed holidays on Ardnamurchan for several years and will have a fortnight on Mull in May next year so have enjoyed following your blogs. Love the photography, and am looking forward to following you for 2014. Hope you have a great year!

    Regards Barbara

    1. Hi Barbara, Yes it really is a special part of the world. I am sure you will have a great time up there. Thanks for the kind words and all the best for 2014. Ewan