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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mull weekend Day 4

Monday the 25th, Last day and the ferry off wasn’t until nearly 11am so we had planned a steady drive to Craignure birding along the way but just as we finished breakfast Paz, who had booked the ferry, received a text from the ferry company saying owing to technical difficulties there would be a limited crossing, we decided to get straight there, upon arrival we were informed they were having problems with the hydraulic ramp but as an alternative we could take the ferry from Fishnish to Lochaline, a bit longer drive home but it would get us off the Island sooner and the route home would take us past Loch Sunart and Strontian of Black Duck fame, we took that option, it was a relatively short crossing but we managed four White Tailed Eagles distantly over the Rubha an Ridire headland and a flock of Arctic Terns near Lochaline. As we were passing Loch Sunart we had an Otter close to shore then we spent a bit of time around Strontian on the offchance we may come across the Black Duck, we got some local gen on where it had been seen recently but there weren’t many Ducks around at all let alone that one, Paz who had took a walk along the river got a couple of ticks though, literally. We undertook the long journey home passing through the very scenic Glen Coe, along the incredibly long Loch Lomond and back into England with a late afternoon diversion into Teesdale for the Black Grouse, a good few males were showing including half a dozen lekking but were all fairly distant although a female dropped in reasonably close, first female I’ve seen for a few years, still a good end to very enjoyable and successful weekend in very good company as usual.
leaving Fishnish

Loch Sunart looking over to Strontian

Glen Coe scenics

Loch Lomond

distant Grouse

still lekking


Saturday, 30 May 2015

Mull weekend Day 3

Sunday the 24th, after receiving info from some other birders whilst eating out in Tobermory last night we headed out to Loch Baa this morning, it was a pleasant walk out to the Loch serenaded by Redstarts and accompanied by Cuckoo’s and Common Sandpipers, once by the Loch it wasn’t long before some large Raptors were seen over the opposite ridge and we spent the next hour or so enjoying views of at least four White Tailed and three Golden Eagles interacting with each other, also a few Ravens about and a ringtail Hen Harrier flew across as we made our way back. We spent the rest of the day driving around Loch na Keal in the hope of the boat coming out and attracting the White Tailed Eagles down but it didn’t today, we went along the Southern shore first with plenty more Eagles, Buzzards, Ravens etc up over the ridges, Wheatears, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits on the lower slopes and Great Northern Divers and Red Breasted Mergansers on the Loch, then returned and went along the Northern shore eventually cutting through the Northern part of the Island back to Tobermory, nothing new added but some nice scenery.
walking out to Loch Baa

huge birds even at a distance

White Tailed with two Golden Eagles

mainly Red Deer but a few Fallow seen as well

Golden Eagle from Loch na Keal

Buzzards too

surprisingly few Waders on the Island, mainly Lapwings and Curlews but this fella was by the Loch
not forgetting Common Sandpipers

Loch na Keal scenics

Rock Doves, probably as close as you're gonna get


yours truly, photo courtesy of Darren

Mull weekend Day 2

Saturday 23rd, day two and target number two was high on the agenda, we headed straight off to Iona after breakfast stopping along the way to admire a superb male Hen Harrier and a Short Eared Owl, we had just missed the Ferry as we arrived at Fionnphort, and it was an hour and a half to the next crossing but a summer plumaged Great Northern Diver kept us entertained by the Quayside. Five years ago when we last did this trip we didn’t even hear Corncrake let alone see one so it was a relief when the calls were heard even as the Ferry was docking, we marched up to the Fire Station field and several birds were calling in the vicinity and after much scanning a head popped up, the next couple of hours were just amazing as at least four birds showed regularly with even brief views of the whole bird on occasions as they moved around the field, Paz did the best when he had moved further along the road, a bird walked out of a garden and crossed the road right in front of him, a few Rock Doves in the area were probably as near as dammit to the genuine article. We took a steady drive back heading for the Grass Point/Loch Don area, another fine male Hen Harrier was seen en route and the mountainous area the road passed through yielded a Golden Eagle but was generally quiet, Grass Point was too, no sign of the recent Osprey, Paz walked out and looked over the offshore Islets favoured by the White Tailed Eagles, none of them neither, we decided to cut our losses and go to Loch na Keal, the forecast late afternoon rain started as we made our way there and had become persistant by the time we got there, we birded from the car for a while, a couple of Hooded Crows were blogging but the best sighting was an Otter walking and swimming along the shoreline.
Hoodies the commonest Corvid


around Fionnphort

Great Northern, if we thought yesterdays bird was good this was even better


we hoped to see the Corncrakes, they put on a most amazing show

showing off those chestnut wings during a preen

a pair

mountain scenery

Otter in the rain