Isle of Mull 2014 - Otter Potter to Treshnish

Monday, October 06, 2014 Adam Tilt 21 Comments


Written on 21/09/2014, Isle of Mull

Our first full day on the island and the weather gods had chosen to treat us with blue skies and blazing sunshine. The cool breeze of yesterday had died away under cover of darkness leaving us to greet our morning visitor’s safe in the knowledge that we were in for a scorcher. Why is it that no one back home believes me when I tell them it’s always sunny up here?

P1090053 - Sheep, Isle of Mull

P1090055 - Red Deer, Isle of Mull

Today’s walk would take us along the coast to Treshnish and we’d barely got going before our first Golden Eagle sighting of the day. Soaring up from the cliffs it was soon joined by a second bird and together they climbed high up into the sky. A Kestrel was doing its up-most to harry them along but as expected this minor irritation was having no noticeable effect. On Mull even Golden Eagles sometimes have to play second fiddle however as my attention was drawn to a disturbance in the millpond like sea, one which quickly resolved itself into two Otters. They were busy fishing some distance off shore and gave great views as we worked our way along the cliffs. By the time we’d dragged our eyes away the Golden Eagles had taken their leave but I had no doubt they would be back again soon enough.

P1090057 - Crackaig, Isle of Mull

P1090060 - Crackaig, Isle of Mull

Dropping down into the abandoned village of Crackaig a Snipe startled us both as it erupted from the undergrowth mere feet from where we were standing. How is it that they can remain so camouflaged at such close distances? Here, as at the house, Wheatears were entirely absent, a symptom of the later season for this year’s visit. The result was an altogether quieter scene though I did get to enjoy my traditional run-around as I attempted to photograph one of two Stonechats present. Far more obliging was a Wren inside one of the old black houses.

P1090061 - Stonechat, Isle of Mull

P1090065 - Wren, Isle of Mull

Taking a well-constructed track down from Crackaig delivered us onto the raised beach which so typifies this corner of Mull. Once used extensively for crop growing it now offers the walker a gentle route with stunning scenery in every direction. It would have been rude not to stop and take it all in, a wise decision as it turned out with three more Otters frolicking half a mile or so off to our right. Unlike the earlier pair this group seemed to consist of an adult and two cubs, an excellent population for such a short stretch of coastline. Judging from the regularity with which they were returning to shore, mouths full, the fishing today was clearly very good. Further out several Guillemots were visible, most by now in winter plumage, plus the occasional Gannet and a group of migrating Swallows heading strongly south. With none at the house we’d wandered if any of the latter would still be around.

P1090067 - North West Mull, Isle of Mull

P1090096 - Treshnish, Isle of Mull

Heading further along the raised beach revealed little else of note until four Wheatears near Treshnish headland. Emma was particularly pleased as she’d missed the individual from yesterday though true to form they kept well away from anything remotely resembling a camera. It was at this point that the pair of Golden Eagles reappeared traversing the cliff top behind us and giving stunning views in the process. Judging from their plumage we aged them as an adult and juvenile, almost certainly two of the three birds seen yesterday evening.

P1090079_2 - Golden Eagle, Isle of Mull

P1090088 - Golden Eagle, Isle of Mull

P1090077_2 - Golden Eagle, Isle of Mull

When they did eventually drift back off we turned our attention once more to the coast where a couple of White Wagtails and three Goldfinches were feeding. Even better though were four Twite, a species I have yet to see anywhere else other than on Mull. If we thought that was good it was nothing compared to the huge mixed flock of Goldfinches and Twite which were feeding along the Treshnish farm track. Constantly a few steps ahead of us they filled the sky with both bodies and noise each and every time the group took flight. A truly spectacular mix of colour and sound.

P1090103 - Goldfinches, Isle of Mull

P1090100 - Twite, Isle of Mull

P1090106_2 - Goldfinches, Isle of Mull

Skylarks, House Sparrows, Coal Tits and a Buzzard made up the bulk of other birds present though there was also plenty non-avian interest including this tiny Toad. Not only have I never seen one so small before but it’s also my first ever sighting on Mull.

P1090113 - Toad, Isle of Mull

Heading back inland another Golden Eagle could be seen way off in the distance whilst quartering the Millennium woodland was a completely unexpected female Hen Harrier. With all the recent attention being on the desperate plight of these birds it was fantastic to find one out in the wild and putting on such a good show. Given its proximity to the house there’s always a chance that we will get even better views during our stay as well. Fingers crossed.

21 comments:

  1. I stayed with my brother for 7 day, it was splendid. But, I never found even one Golden Eagle, well done Adam for finding them.

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    1. Thanks Bob. We were certainly extremely lucky this year.

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  2. congrats on the eagle spottings! love the flock of goldfinches in flight. and the ruins are very neat!

    thanks for stopping by today!

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    1. Thanks and those Goldfinches put on an almost perfect display for us.

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  3. What a great place - I have always wanted to go there - now it's rather too far away!

    Great pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. If you ever get the chance Stewart I can't recommend the island highly enough. Best place I've ever been for wildlife.

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  4. yes this is a wonderful place. I have been once several years ag and although we saw Golden Eagle, not as good as your woderful flight shots. Loved seeing the scenery and the other birds. Brought back memories for me.

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    1. Glad I could bring a little bit of Mull back to you. We were very lucky this year with the Eagles.

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  5. I have only spent an afternoon at Tobermory.... I really must make the effort to visit Mull to see the wildlife... a wonderful post Adam.

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    1. You have to get back there Andrew and explore some more. Even two weeks isn't enough.

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  6. Wow, amazing post and photos.. The Eagles are an awesome sighting.. Wonderful variety of birds and lovely scenery!

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  7. Love the ruins!!!!!!! And your scenery and bird photos are wonderful! Great seeing the golden eagles. Oh, how I'd love to go!

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    1. Me too. There's something about that village which is so evocative.

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  8. Excellent images. The coast is beautiful and I always find ruins interesting.

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  9. Wow! What a set of pictures and fabulous birds. Very jealous of your Golden Eagles.

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    1. Thanks Adam. They are pretty special.

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  10. My blog tells me we saw a toad in Bunessan on our first visit (2012). This time we had a very similar one, though larger, outside the holiday cottage near Craignure. A superb post - terrific eagle photos.

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