Isle of Mull 2014 – Sodden in Balamory

Wednesday, October 08, 2014 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Written on 23/09/2014, Isle of Mull

By dawn this morning the fog had thankfully lifted though a blanket of cloud left conditions rather on the dull side. There were however spells of brightness, some may even have called it sunshine, so we set off in the direction of Tobermory with fingers well and truly crossed. Amongst miles of stunning scenery passed en-route Calgary, the very definition of a pristine Hebridean bay, stands out above all else so it’s perhaps no surprise that we chose to spend a little time in its company. Even on a day like today the white sands shone brightly and it was good to see Common Gulls and Oystercatchers making the most of the deserted conditions. So quiet was it in fact that we had the place pretty much to ourselves, unheard of during the summer months, with just a group of Rock Pipits and distant Curlew for company.

P1090142 - Calgary, Isle of Mull

Another short drive brought us to our next stop at Dervaig. Although the tide was still relatively high there were plenty of waders present including six Ringed Plover, four Dunlin and my first pair of Greenshanks seen anywhere this year. I’m not quite sure how that particular barren patch had been allowed to continue but perhaps more importantly they represented only my second ever Mull record, the first coming over at Loch Don several years ago. Also present were a vast array of Rock Doves, some with increasingly dubious plumage, plus three Little Grebes and a cracking Dipper. The latter was feeding around and under the road bridge, another good record for the area. Out in the loch a female Red-breasted Merganser made a somewhat inelegant entrance but gave a good show as she set about some intensive preening.

P1090148 - Dervaig, Isle of Mull

By the time we made it to Tobermory (or Balamory for those of you with young children) the sun had once again managed to break through giving the world famous view of its main street, complete with reflections! Given that mere moments before we’d been sent packing by a heavy shower this represented quite a turnaround.

P1090149 - Tobermory, Isle of Mull

P1090155 - Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Sadly that was where our good fortune for the day ran out. First the heavens opened once more and stayed so for the rest of the day, then we discovered the footpath to Rubha na Gall lighthouse has been closed. To be fair it’s looked a bit treacherous for the past couple of years and I can only assume that last winter’s storms have finally pushed conditions a little beyond what Mr Health and Safety is willing to sign off on. Never mind as at least the route to Aros was open giving great views across the bay whilst also sheltering us from the worst of the strengthening downpour. Most of the birds were keeping themselves well sheltered but a pair of Song Thrushes made for an entertaining sideshow as they attempted to retrieve berries whilst hovering. Not easy to do when you aren’t exactly renowned for your acrobatic prowess. The real action was down at ground level however where a veritable smorgasbord of fungi were on offer. In dark and wet conditions I could only photograph a couple of the more impressive examples but it’s well worth a trip if you are in the area.

P1090163 - Russula Aquosa, Isle of Mull
Russula Acquosa

P1090166 - Blotched Woodwax, Isle of Mull
Blotched Woodwax

P1090171 - Woodwax Species
Woodwax Species

Back at the house and conditions still haven’t let up much with the view down to the sea only visible during fleeting moments of clarity. At least the local birds are starting to find the feeders with Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Wren and Meadow Pipit all present this morning. How they find us in the middle of such wilderness is a mystery in itself. The three Golden Eagles have also been about though, like me, they are probably huddled up against the elements right now hoping for better tomorrow.

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