Originally written 12/07/2017
No one could call the weather up until now poor but Wednesday was simply glorious. Wall to wall sunshine, barely a breeze to rustle the bracken and with temperatures troubling the upper teens we had the perfect excuse to deploy our kayaks for the first time this year. Regular readers may recall that we purchased a pair of sit-on-tops last summer and this was our first opportunity to bring them up to Mull. We may have taken a hit on fuel economy as a result but when this is your playground, I think it’s a hit worth taking.
Whilst the beach filled up behind us we had Calgary bay virtually to ourselves, a tropical paradise of white sands and turquoise waters rather incongruously set on the west coast of Scotland. Following the coast out along one side before crossing the bay and heading back along the other we had an absolute blast. Watching Emma trying to clamber back into her kayak having stepped ashore to explore and almost getting stranded in a large rock pool as the tide receded stick out as two particularly memorable moments. My personal favourite though was a brilliant encounter with an inquisitive Common Seal which popped up to investigate us while we were having lunch. First appearing on one side then the next, that first breath as it broke the surface often giving away its location. I willed it ever closer but we clearly weren’t quite interesting enough as it soon headed off.
Now being surrounded by salty water is not necessarily the best environment in which to take a camera, but thanks to the GoPro I can at least bring you a small sample of what we experienced.
After four hours it was reluctantly time to head for dry land once more, partly because it was beginning to get a little chilly but mostly because my right bum cheek had gone decidedly numb.
With late afternoon going spare we stuck to our valley for a little local exploration. I had butterflies once more in mind and managed to turn up at least six Dark Green Fritillaries in sight of the house as well as numerous Green-veined Whites. There was also a Magpie Moth on the wing but top billing has to go to another pair of Adders which I found sunning themselves beneath an old stone wall. That makes for six Adders so far this week which does raise the question of how many are actually out there!
There was also chance to take stock of our little feeding station up here, only topped up when someone is in residence but always able to draw in a sizeable crowd. On the first day we arrived there was a single male Chaffinch but since then he’s been joined by no less than two juvenile Robins, a juvenile Stonechat, two Blackbirds, eight House Sparrows, three Rock Doves, a family of Willow Warblers, five Great Tits, one Blue Tit and up to three Siskins. Not a bad haul considering we are literally in the middle of nowhere and trees are in short supply. Of these the Siskins have probably been my favourite visitor to date, partly because they’re attractive birds but mostly because I hardly ever get to see any. Even better is that they seem to love the camera if these photos are anything to go by.
We finished off with a truly special bird encounter the likes of which only Mull can deliver. It all started with an unfamiliar call from above which turned out to be a male Hen Harrier way up high. Backlit it looked almost completely white save for its black wing-tips and the reason for its alarm soon became clear. Soaring away in our direction was one of the resident Golden Eagles, its head positively shining in the blazing sun. It continued across the valley before joining its mate from where both seemed to delight in harassing the local Hoodies before vanishing out of view. Shouldn’t every day end this way?