Sunday, 14 June 2015

Isle of Mull

Isle of Mull
May 2015
Isle of Mull, Scotland

Sunday the 24th May 2015
Cracking start to the day on the mainland with a wander around Oban and to see the small colony of Black Guillemots, about 8 to 10 pairs nesting or roosting in the harbour / promenade wall, (in old clay flood water pipes) adjacent the seafront Cathedral to the North end of Oban. An awesome sight and now one of my favourite birds. Many thanks to Dave Mansell of for the information on these or I may very well have missed them.

Black Guillemots


On to the ferry trip with Calmac (£87.50 return for a car and 2 passengers) and this is where the weather started to turn bad and get cold, but to be fair, has being bad and is still on going, through the spring on the west coast of Scotland, but that's Scotland.
Unfortunately as on past journeys on West Coast ferry's no sightings of any Cetaceans but lovely views of Lismore Lighthouse and Caste Durat on the way and way back, see later photos.

On Mull, the first stop and not the last was to the hamlet of Groten, where we saw on each occasion young Red Deer Stags feeding in the lush grass next to the vastly tidal loch, always a lovely sight. Otters, and Osprey and a Sea Eagle had been reported here but not luck for us, but there were a number of small waders such as Dunlin and Ringed Plover about.

Young Red Deer Stags

The next trip was to Grasspoint where the heavens really opened by a coastal walk saw Red deer grazing, a pair of Hen Harriers (which were chased of by a stupid family letting there dogs run freely through areas of ground nesting birds such as Meadow Pipits and Skylarks, it does naff me off!!!) and a single Short Eared Owl. Also not seen but heard was the calling of Corncrake, which was not expected but quite exciting, as thought usually only present on Iona.

Day 2
Monday 25th May 2015
Ulva and Sea Eagle Trip
A really good morning and a little early sunshine which did not last, but we were lucky enough to be booked on to one of the only running trips in the week. An early stop on the way to Ulva was at a layby on the road to Ulva and unknown till we stopped views of the Sea Eagle nest we were going to come back to. It was reported the Female was away from the nest assumed hunting and the Male was clearly visible though distant.
On to Ulva and our trip, we boarded the small vessel with some very keen photographers and motored back up the Loch, only to see one of the Sea Eagles flying around with a full Lamb's carcass, it was later found out that shortly after our stop, some 1 1/2 hours before the Female had brought on a fresh lamb, stripped it and the Male had flown of with the carcass to get the Crows and Magpies away from the nest, with this in mind all aboard the boat thought they may be full and not come for fish!!
Luckily for us they did, indeed 3 times which was a bonus, though the weather by this time had gone a little dark and grey, the photos may not be the best, but the Sea Eagles were a magnificent sight.

On our return trip back down the loch we did come across a few distant but stunning summer plumage Red Throated Divers and Great Northern Divers.

Sea Eagle View Point (Only real area to pull off the road)

Great Northern Divers

Ulva Ferry Pier (Otter seen North West of the Pier and Common Seals a lintel further West)
Sea Eagles (Female with the wing tag) 


Views of a small Common Seal colony just down the west channel from Ulva Ferry pier, seen from the Sea Eagle trip boat as we were back a little early and had a small detour!!
Common Seals

Day 3
Tuesday 26th May 2015
Iona and Corncrakes
This was the day when you found out how big the Island is with a long drive down to Fionnphort to get the small ferry across to Iona, (a small car ferry £10.50 return for 2 foot passengers, no unauthorised cars allowed)
The main aim was to find and photograph Corncrakes along with a good explore around of the island and abbey.
Luckily, though very grey and dank, the weather held and no rain poured until we were back at the car.
Corncrakes were heard in many places but never visible, with the most calls to the left side of the ferry port around the back of Fire Station, but we were luck to see them in a garden just past the heritage centre, when Adele said "look at the Thrush with a Snail" and a Male Corncrake appeared from nowhere behind it, awesome, though only for seconds!!!

Iona Churches and Monastery  

Day 4
Wednesday 27th May 2015
Complete wash out
Quick look at Sea Eagle site, no views, a ride round the north of the Island, a wet walk round Tobermory (it was so wet there was no one at the pier mobile chip shop at lunch time!!!). Late afternoon beers in the hotel and a sleep!!!
Day 5 (leaving on 11.00am ferry)
Thursday 28th May 2015
Craignure and Otter
With the final morning on the Island and just a showery sunny morning, I headed out early well before breakfast to a location Otters had been seen, near the hotel, which was, park at the old pier at Craignure and head through the camp site and around the headland. Luckily I was out before the morning dog walkers and campers and was lucky enough to come across a single Dog Otter out at sea, but reasonably close in. Crouching down behind rocks I watched him for about 30 minutes, before he spotted some other people walking around the headland, he then disappeared and was not seen again. At least I had caught up with one, reasonably visible before heading home.
Otter (Finally!!!) 

General views around Mull
Not brilliant, as the weather was generally dreadful, (with one full day completely lost to driving and heavy rain all day, just dank!!!), though when we were on the ferry home, the sun started shinning, which made the Island look great. Note to myself, must go back!!
Boats at Salen

Lismore Lighthouse

Duart Castle (sunny when leaving!!!)

Boats at Salen
Random Birds
Few random shots of birds found all around the Island
Common Buzzard

Hooded Crow


Ringed Plover


Oyster Catcher

Common Sandpiper

Starling (very wet trying to feed young)


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