Our first ever tours were on the 16th May where we led two guided walks around Aros Park, accommodating passengers off the Sega Pearl 2 cruise ship in association with the The National Trust for Scotland. It was highly changeable weather conditions, ranging from sunshine to hail storms!
We studied the bird songs of Wood Warbler, Crossbill, Willow
Warbler, Blackcap, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Wren, Robin and Song Thrush. Another avian encounter was watching an adult White-Tailed Eagle in flight being mobbed by a number of persistent Hooded Crows.
Palmate Newts were recorded in a woodland pond with crisp sunshine lighting up the amphibians wonderful markings and colouration. We also admired the woodlands bryophytes and lichens, learning about their fascinating history and also their relationship with the surrounding trees.
Wild flowers discovered on the tours were Bluebells, Wood Anemone, Wild Garlic, Wood Sorrel, Common Butterwort, Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage, Water Avens, Yellow Archangel, Marsh Marigold and Primroses.
On the 19th May we provided guidance to a French film crew who were on Mull filming some wildscapes and heritage sites for a show called Echappées Belles to be broadcast in November on France 5. I was filmed and also interviewed about the islands wildlife and what it means to him. The program will be aired in November on national French television and then worldwide in 2016.
The Golden Tour
On of our keystone trips is the 'Mull Evening Tour' which operates in the summer months from May to August. I have been based on the isle of Mull since 2010 and my idea of a night out does not involve being surrounded by walls and a roof but more like mountains and skyscapes in the great outdoors. I did my best to encourage people to join me in the field on every occasion and over the years have shared some amazing wildlife encounters with visitors and residents on the island. In the winter of 2014 plans came into place to start providing commercial tours at this magical time of the day and during the month of June we provided 15 evening tours.
An incredible encounter on June 8th with an adult female Hen Harrier (pictured). After persevering for a short spell we observed the bird at close range quartering over the rough grass in pursuit of prey!
We also watched a Short-eared Owl interacting with a Hooded Crow on the wing and a distant male Hen Harrier on the opposing fell side. We watched all this with the soundscape of a drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Cuckoo.
On the 10th June we had wonderful owl sightings on the tour which started with a Short-eared Owl hunting over the rough grassland and also interacting with a Hooded Crow. During the dusk period we saw three Tawny Owls (pictured) at close range and listened to their wonderful variety of calls.
To book a trip - http://inspirewild.co.uk/wildlife-tours/mull-evening-tour/
The Wild West
Another unique trip option that we have created this year is the Ardnamurchan Full Day Tour. The adventure starts in Tobermory where we get the passenger ferry across to the village of Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Once you arrive on the peninsula it feels like you have made the journey to another island as it is surrounded by ocean on three sides. The signs of traditional crofting around the settlement gives you a sense of time travelling, turning your clock back through the decades.
One incredible encounter was while researching the trip with Cain and Rachel in mid May we were travelling to the east back from Ardnamurchan point when we saw a Pine Marten was running across the adjacent field getting mobbed by Meadow Pipits!
We provided eight Ardnamurchan tours in the month of June and had some wonderful connections with the natural world which included Otters frolicking in the secluded Sanna Bay and Golden Eagles ruling the mountainous skylines. The habitat diversity in the area is breathtaking as we cover the harsh Atlantic coastlines on Ardnamurchan, the temperate rainforests of Sunart and the mountain ranges of Moidart, all in one day!
To book a trip to the Wild West - http://inspirewild.co.uk/wildlife-tours/ardnamurchan-full-day-tour/
Half Day Island Introduction
Another unique option for visitors to the island is the 'Mull Half Day Tour', which runs twice a day on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and we provided 15 half day tours throughout June.
On June 10th We had six separate encounters with eagles on the tour with three sightings of both White-tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle. We also observed a male Adder basking in the sunshine and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers at close range through the spotting scope.
We admired beautiful expanses of Hare's-tail Cottongrass lit up in the crisp sunshine on open moors. Other records on the trip were Green-veined White butterfly, Ravens, Skylarks, Wheatears, Buzzards, male Kestrel, Sand Martins and Common Sandpipers.
Trip information - http://inspirewild.co.uk/wildlife-tours/mull-half-day-tour/
Contribution - Giving Back to Nature
With our tours launching, we've also began to compile Inspire Wild data on the biodiversity of the Isle of Mull and the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. We feel that this is a major part of not only Inspire Wild, but the wildlife tourism industry as a whole.
The data we collect will be passed on to the relevant organisations, allowing them (and us) to gain a better understanding of the species present, seasonal and annual trends, adding to a bigger data set as a whole, which will hopefully help conserve species both now and in the future.
We will be taking part in a number of citizen science projects, the first of which is the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.