Originally written 20/07/2017
Our penultimate day on Mull and I don’t want it to end.
But there’s a time and a place for feeling sorry for ourselves and that’s on the ferry back to Oban. For now we had the prospect of a glorious sunshine filled day ahead of us and to fill it one of our favourite walks. We’d be sticking to the north west coast again, starting at Calgary before following the raised beach and lazy beds around to Caliach. To be honest though it was hard to push ourselves beyond the first hundred meters or so given the views were as good as this.
It’s no surprise that the white sands of Calgary are one of the islands biggest draws and I still have to pinch myself to remind me that they and those turquoise waters really are located out here off the west coast of Scotland and not somewhere more tropical. I suppose the Machair might have been a slight give-away but it’s great to see it in such good shape and awash with wild flowers compared to the normally sheep cropped vista we’re used to. Top marks to the friends of Calgary Bay for getting the area fenced and protected so that this precious habitat can hopefully be preserved. The Common Gulls certainly seem to have given it the thumbs up as they’re now free to roost safe from disturbance, although it does make them somewhat harder to photograph! Out in the bay itself there were three female Eiders with their trio of youngsters as well as a Common Sandpiper calling quite happily and seemingly in no rush to fly. My chance at last you may be thinking but no, there was the small matter of a rather high cliff between us. Argh! At least this Song Thrush was a little more accommodating.
As we’d seen elsewhere Wheatears were simply running amok in huge numbers, their chattering call and white rumps continuous companions as we rounded the headland. Out to sea we spotted our first Gannets of the day whilst closer to hand a noisy family of Stonechats were making their displeasure at our presence well know. I however only had eyes for another I’m afraid as a series of high pitched calls from overhead alerted us to the passing of at least four Twite. I lost them as they landed but luckily managed to locate this lone individual which, as Twite’s tend to do, paid almost no attention to my presence whatsoever.
I left feeling pretty happy with the photos I’d been able to get and spotted the Twite a couple more times before Caliach was upon us. On stormy days this is probably the best sea watching site on Mull and we were under no illusions that we’d timed our visit to coincide with almost the exact opposite. No large haul beckoned then but we were still eager to glean what we could. And initially things did indeed look quiet with passing Gannets and Shags our only company until we began to see Kittiwakes. Their numbers slowly built until we had at least forty individuals split across a couple of groups indicating that there was food out there to be found. A few lone Guillemots passed distantly between us and Coll before we hit the jackpot with three Puffins flying close in. Admittedly we’d already seen hundreds over the last fortnight thanks to our trip out to Lungs and Staffa but there’s something deeply satisfying about spotting some from Mull itself. They were soon gone but the follow up entertainment was almost as good when down below us a Black Guillemot appeared with a large fish in its beak. We watched expectantly waiting for it to devour its meal but nope, it just sat there. As if that wasn’t strange enough a second Black Guillemot arrived and proceeded to do exactly the same thing. At this point our minds ran wild with potential hypothesises. Was this a case of eyes bigger than their stomachs or were they just keeping their meals for later. I honestly don’t know the answer I’m afraid as they were still sitting their when we left.
As you can see from above the views from Caliach are fairly spectacular and to top it all there’s even a trig point to bag. Bonus.
Turning our attentions back inland we picked up the trail once more and were soon winding our way between pastures and making friends with several Highland Cows. At least I hope we were making friends as those horns look fairly menacing and I’d hate for something to have gotten lost in translation!
Wheatears were here too and in even greater numbers than we’d seen thus far which did at least mean I had a chance with the camera. In the end I was spoilt for choice having stumbled across what I think was a family group with birds posing in turn along the fence. Why can’t all wildlife photography be this easy?
The remainder of our route back was fairly uneventful including a flock of Greylag Geese enjoying their time in a couple of large rock pools and a single Skylark which gave us a brief snippet of song. It was only as we neared Calgary once more that things picked up thanks to a family of Blackbirds, several Goldfinches and a couple of Hooded Crows which seemed intent on raiding the farmhouse vegetable patch.
We could have left things there but it was such a gorgeous afternoon that we decided to squeeze in a visit to Croig as well. Famed for its Common Seal colony it’s also not a bad place for birds and as if to demonstrate we were greeted by a Ringed Plover, several Grey Herons and a flyover Whimbrel calling loudly. That last one was our first of the trip and a very welcome tick indeed. There was another Eider crèche here too but really it was the views which took my breath away and will leave the fondest of memories. With the tide high and waters still the place looked absolutely stunning and I only hope that these photos can portray a little of the beauty before us.
And that was that unless you want to include the pair of Adders and seven Red Deer waiting for us back at the house. Tomorrow is our last day here and I think we’ll be sticking local again. There’s packing to be done and last minute jobs to finish as we wonder where on earth the last fortnight has gone.