Mull - June 2019
Saturday 29th. Hetty drove back to Bristol with Martha, Dougie and Florie. I crossed to Oban with them to photograph the black guillemots. I took more photographs on Sunday 30th before travelling on the train to Glasgow before flying home.
I had a chance meeting with a great guy at Oban who told me of a good spot to see otters on Mull, and showed me a wonderful photo he had taken. I followed his advice and, together with a couple including a woman who did her Masters on otters, was rewarded with seeing a female eating a long-spined sea scorpion at close range. Magical. The otter was quite difficult to see when it was asleep on the kelp. I photographed an oystercatcher with a blunt bill from hammering mussels.
I had a brief view of a mink carrying a crab in its mouth.
There was a spectacular sunset, and I saw another otter in the pinkish water near Craignure pier.
Friday 28th. We looked for golden eagles around the three lochs in Glen More, but didn't see any. In the evening we revisited Tobermory lighthouse and had brief views of an otter.
Thursday 27th. We went to Staffa and Lunga on a perfect day with Turas Mara's big bird trip. Hetty spotted a pod of common dolphins at the mouth of Loch na Keal. There was a minke whale distant too. We had 30 minutes on Staffa, with its remarkable cliff of columnar basalt and Fingal's cave. Dolphin photo by Hetty.
The Lunga seabirds were spectacular: puffins, razorbills, guillemots (included bridled individuals), kittiwakes, fulmars, shags and bonxies. The peaks of Rum were in the distance.
On the return boat trip we saw grey (top) and harbour seals, the latter with newborn pups.
Wednesday 26th. In the afternoon we drove to Knock and walked along the shore of Loch Ba. We saw siskins, ravens carrying wool, a common sandpiper carrying an eggshell and a red-breasted merganser. Photos of greylag and song thrush too.
Tuesday 25th. Sunny day, and the temperature crept to around 24C for the rest of the stay, often with pure blue skies. Hetty and I walked on Ulva, and the views from Ormaig over farms destroyed in the clearances were spectacular and sad. I saw a ringtail hen harrier and a merlin, and had brief views of a bullfinch. We had great views of a red deer stag in velvet. We also saw dark green and small pearl-bordered fritillaries, transparent burnet, green tiger beetle and keeled skimmers. Ulva is beautiful, run by the community, and The Boathouse serves superb food. On our way back two distant eagles above Loch na Keal were almost certainly golden eagles.
Monday 24th. The Mull Charters white-tailed eagle trip exceeded expectations. Great views of 3 birds feeding alongside the Lady Jayne. Two were adults, one still had some black feathers on the tips of the tail. Also Arctic and common terns, fallow deer and one red deer near Killiechronan.
We then drove on the small road to Calgary, stopping at the lovely Hen Hut for tea. I saw wheatears, a female hen harrier, and heard a corncrake near the Hen Hut. Two red-throated divers in summer plumage in Calgary Bay: hooded crow, eider with 2 chicks, and common gull here too. Some machair at Calgary. Top photo is of Bac Mor and Lunga from Calgary Bay.
In the evening we went on our first otter hunt near Salen, and saw one otter in the half light. We saw a male hen harrier on our way back, and a carnivore crossed the road near Aros Park which looked remarkably like a polecat.
Sunday 23rd. The wrecked boats at Salen. Common seals on the islets offshore here. Hetty and I drove to Loch na Keal near Killiechronan: birds today included great spotted woodpecker, sedge warbler, eider, red-breasted merganser. A mountain hare crossed the road between Tobermory and Salen.
Saturday 22nd. We drove to Oban for the ferry to Craignure on Mull - I saw an osprey at Loch Lomond, and a crossbill flew over at a stop near Ben Lui. I hurriedly located the black guillemot colony at Oban, in the drains near the youth hostel. Aisling Cottage in Tobermory is great, with wonderful views over the Sound of Mull. In the evening we walked to the lighthouse north of Tobermory, and saw a spotted flycatcher in the wood.
I flew to Glasgow on the solstice to meet Hetty who has travelled via the Peak District and Lake District with Martha, Dougie and Florie. We spent the night of Friday 21st at the Arrochar Hotel, under the Cobbler. It is light until about 23.00h. There are hooded crows around Loch Long.