Little did I realise quite what a big impact that first visit to the Isle of Mull would have on my life. Those few days spent amongst the Eagles rekindled my love for nature, and birds in particular, whilst also providing much of the inspiration for creating this blog. Some nine years and numerous visits later and the island is still finding unexpected ways to creep into our everyday lives. This time it’s been our choice of car which has necessitated the purchase of a brand new 4×4. The inevitable starting a family/moving to Chelsea comments followed but in truth this move is brought on more by necessity than desire (although it does look really cool if I’m being totally honest). The family holiday home on Mull is at the end of a mile long rough track which includes, just for a bit of extra drama, two very steep switchback curves. These have always been a challenge to negotiate in our existing fleet but with a lot of scrabbling and thrown rocks we’ve just about managed it in the past. However, the experience is neither particularly kind to the cars nor our nerves as being so isolated means that getting stuck for a couple of days is a real possibility. Throw in the need to move a couple of kayaks and carry a fortnights worth of food and we weren’t left with many options.
As a result we’ve now taken delivery of our new transport and I must say, I’m very impressed. With excellent road manners and an extremely easy drive it should positively devour the long journey and then continue to conquer everything we throw at it on Mull itself. At least that’s the plan and early signs are indeed promising after dealing with a muddy Pembrokeshire car park over the Easter weekend with ease. Clearly we needed a proper shakedown though so headed to Aberystwyth a couple of weeks back. To some relief the car performed faultlessly and as an added bonus we lucked into a gorgeous day with clear blue skies and a warm breeze. A complete contrast to the grey and drizzly conditions we’d originally set out in. Not wanting to waste this opportunity we walked the coast path around to Wallog with its shingle spit, enjoying some simply stunning scenery along the way.
On the bird front we revelled in a couple of superb flypast’s from a Peregrine Falcon, probably the closest views I’ve ever had away from the pair that frequent my office. There were also Sparrowhawks and Kestrels doing the rounds plus at least five Chough with two birds in particular looking as if they could be defending a nesting site. They certainly didn’t approve of a passing Raven but left the heavy attack to a couple of nearby Crows who quickly chased the intruder off. Elsewhere a proliferation of Stonechats and Meadow Pipits kept us company and it was also great to get my first butterfly photos of the year in the shape of a pair of Small Tortoiseshells.
Back in Aberystwyth itself we once again drew a blank with the old college Black Redstart (of course) but did find five Purple Sandpipers roosting along the seawall. This was a good increase over numbers seen during our last visit where we could only track down two birds at most. Also present were the usual Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and Oystercatchers plus a sighting of DCI Mathias (he of Hinterland fame shown on S4C) before it was time to head for home.