Monday, 3 November 2014

October review...

Early on in the month I did a couple of local school visits representing Sea Life Surveys. The first school I visited was Dervaig primary on the 3rd. I spoke to a class of about 30 children all about the marine life around the island. After about half an hour of the kids telling me about all the animals they have seen around Mull's coastline I talked about my observations and learnings in the last five years around our waters and gave them an introduction of some of the species which can be seen. After a short break we did a playground activity exemplifying the dominance of sound in the ocean and finished off with an activity sheet with them stating why we need to look after the seas and watching some youtube videos of Kasey and Knobble the minke whales! 

On the Monday (6th) I went down to Bunessan primary to talk about the pre-school class first and then the p2-p4 class. Another great experience to share our wildlife encounters, discoveries and research with the children and see such huge enthusiasm and curiosity in return. 

Dervaig primary school...

beach clean...
Wednesday 8th and Andrew Jake and I decided to head to the north west side of the island and tidy up a small stretch of the coastline which tends to have a higher concentration of marine litter due to been exposed to the Atlantic. We did a couple of hours and managed four bin liners full of smaller stuff and a lot of larger debris as well. Fascinating to see jetsam that has travelled across from the other side of the ocean with American branding. Its always an occasion of mixed feelings but overall a very rewarding thing to do, out in the fresh air, good exercise and surrounded by beautiful wildlife and seascapes....what could be better!

On the evening I lead a dark sky photography workshop with Mull camera club (MTTL). It has held at Glengorm and we had clear spells to work with throughout the evening, which was great in giving us all the opportunity to capture some starscapes. Sixteen people attended the event and it was a great success with a variety of photos captured and even a weak auroral arc to the north later on by the persistent Martin Jones. 

MTTL dark sky event

Later on in the week there was a charity event held at Garmony to raise funds for Marie Curie cancer fund-raising group and my MullRally dark sky star/traffic trail photo was auctioned off for £320. Thanks to Cheryl and MTTL for their involvement in that. Photography can be a very rewarding thing to do for your own benefit but can be powerful in other ways as well through charitable donations, kindness through gifts and also inspirational when you see an image which ignites the senses. 

On Saturday 18th I was contacted by a Country Life magazine journalist through other sources on Mull, to give him an introduction of the wildlife around the island. We met in Tobermory in mid-morning and headed south to some of the most productive raptor/otter locations on the island. Our first highlight was a male hen harrier quartering the rough grass close to the road. After a few minutes it dropped down and came up with a vole in his talons, which it took further up the hillside to feed on. 
We saw a juv (ringtail) harrier a bit later on down at Pennyghael junction and then classic skyline golden eagles going through Glen More. We approached the turn-off for Lochbuie and I told Nick that it is a sensational area down there, so we took a right turn and headed down that stretch. Within minutes we had two golden eagles metres above our head before an adult white-tailed eagle came past triggering vocal yelping from the goldies! An incredible aerial dispute as we watched on from below. 
Some wonderful sightings around raptor island and thanks to Nick for who I shared those great sightings with. He will be doing an article in Country life about sustainable scallop diving around the island and hopefully he will be inspired by those raptor encounters to do a piece on the value and belonging of birds of prey in our countryside. 

Tuesday 28th and after the worst 10 days of weather I have ever experienced in the Hebrides, there was a small window of clear skies and settled weather so I headed out to cover some mountain ecology in a central part of the island. Great to spend half a day having a whole mountain range to yourself and sightings included a single mistle thrush on the scree during the ascent and two golden eagles in flight to the north. Working the summit I had a skein of thirty pink foots overhead and around 15 whoopers flying in a SW direction. A small number of meadow pipits and a solitary wheatear briefly seen as well. As darkness started to arrive I attempted a starscape at 2000ft of hight but a lot of cloud rolled in so I gave up and headed down back to the car.
I did a short video blog post while on the summit, which can be viewed below. I am trying to keep moving forward and evolving my blog, improving it all the time, never standing still.

Beinn a Ghraig ready for the stars...

I called into Salen pier on the way home to attempt a star sequence for my MULLatNIGHT video and managed about 200 frames looking N/NW from the old pier. Later that night I did Glengorm castle (150 frames) and a traffic trail on Tobermory main street (250 frames). 

Salen old pier star-trail 60 frames complied using Starstax software
For the remainder of the month I have been keeping my self occupied with my part time Open University course as I am currently studying a module in Geology. Five further modules would reward me with an honours degree in Natural Sciences but the main reason I am doing it is because of a hunger and curiosity to learn. I never want to stop learning about the natural world and as long as that sticks I will be delighted.

Thanks for looking :)



  2. Interesting video & insights from Mull Ewan. Keep up the good work! Is the new header photo Geltsdale? Stunning picture

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for the comment. Yes it is a local artist called Ben Knibbs it really is stunning isnt it!