It’s always nice to add a bit of variety to these posts in order to keep you, my loyal readers, suitably entertained. With that in mind lets kick off day six of our Mull adventure with a shot of the downstairs bathroom.
Now I know what you’re thinking and I agree, the view from the back of the house is far less expansive than that from the front. If you look closely at the top right corner of the window however you may just be able to pick out a blob above the large rock that is doing a fine job of resembling another smaller rock. Appearances can be deceptive though as it is in fact a Snipe, probably the same individual that we first saw on arrival given its penchant for walking around in the open. If anything it was even closer this time but again I had to shoot through glass.
Though the scene above may look tranquil let me assure you that it was anything but. The strong winds were very much still with us and presenting problems not only for our plans to climb Ben More but also for the Great Tits. The issues of climbing Mulls only Munro given the conditions don’t need explaining but I should probably elaborate on the Great Tits plight which mainly revolved around how to land on a feeder that was at times almost horizontal to its usual position. Remarkably they did develop a system of landing on one of its perches and hanging on for dear life whilst they threw seed onto the ground as quickly as possible. They’d then hop down to safety and eat their haul without the fear of being blown into oblivion. Impressive stuff. I’d like to say that we were just as ingenious but in the end we just stuck to the coast that was most sheltered from the onslaught.
First stop of the day was therefore Torloisk beach (above), a visit that rather nicely coincided with some sun in the fast changing mixing pot that was to be the days weather. Unlike Calgary the sand at Torloisk is distinctly black as a result of the volcanic rocks that form the bulk of its source material, but that doesn’t stop it from being just as stunning a location. Luckily for us it was also packed with birds including a curiously tailless Grey Wagtail, a couple of White Wagtails, several Pied Wagtails, two Common Sandpipers, the ubiquitous Great Northern Diver and the only Meadow Pipit of the whole holiday that let me get anywhere near close enough to take its photo.
Overhead three Swallows and a Sand Martin briefly sparked the idea off that I could attempt some in flight shots, but the less said about those the better. Instead we shall move on to Eas Fors waterfall a couple of miles further along the coast. For those of you with an interest in linguistics you may be curious to learn that the literal translation of Eas (gaelic) Fors (norse) Waterfall (scottish) is actually waterfall waterfall waterfall. At least there shouldn’t be any doubt about what it is!
Though the views from the top are impressive it’s only from beneath that you get the full impact of all that water falling over one hundred foot into the sea. Definitely one of the must sees if you’re visiting the island. In the loch out front a pair of Goosanders were a really nice find and spent the duration of our time there feeding along the shoreline. Keeping them company were the usual Oystercatchers and another trio of Common Sandpipers. A pair of Ravens were also in the area with one of them perching menacingly above the falls.
We’d taken the opportunity at both Torloisk and Eas Fors to collect plenty of driftwood for a project that I’m planning back at home, so suitably laden down we headed back to the house. The wind had still not let up but that didn’t seem to deter the Rock Doves who were once again hoovering up spilt seed, no doubt very grateful for the Great Tits new method of feeding. We did have to let out a tut of disapproval though when a Feral Pigeon also popped in. After my ramblings in the last post about Mull being one of the few places that you can still see pure Rock Doves we certainly don’t want the bloodline being sullied by their lesser cousins. Thankfully there was no such problem with the Yellowhammers who were once again taking shelter from the wind in our few trees.
We still had a couple of hours to fill and spent that time gathering and subsequently pulling apart a few Short Eared Owl pellets. It’s something that I’ve seen people do on TV and read about numerous times but had yet to try out for myself. I’d always wandered if it really was possible to get so many bones and skulls out of just a few pellets, a question that the next photo should suitably answer.
What you are looking at is probably a days worth of prey items caught by one of the owls that we had been watching on a nightly basis. The majority of the diet consists of Voles, as we had expected, but it is very interesting to note that they have also been picking up the odd beetle and other insect when the opportunity had presented itself. Fascinating indeed and it allowed us to watch that evenings display against a developing sunset with a new sense of enlightenment.