Monday, May 29, 2017

Isle of Mull and Iona

Boarding the ferry at Oban to Craignure for the last sailing of the day.  The culmination of a 10 hour journey from a hotel in Newbury where we stayed after the Cricket match.


The weather was fantastic so standing at the bow of the ferry watching the Isle of Mull come closer into view was the best seat in the house.


Was really desperate to get my first sighting of Sea Otter, so to have prolonged views of these two spritely individuals was a real privilage.


Oystercatcher are common around the island.  This bird was nesting on the pebbled beach.  A really lovely bird.


One of the most stunning male Whinchat I had seen.  The light was fading, so finding this was a real bonus.  Later realised there was a nest site very close by.


The female was picked up a couple of days later.


Common Gull were by far the most 'common gull' on the island. Predominantly a winter visitor to the south of the country, these adults looked pristine as they settled in for the breeding season.


Tobermory - the main town on the island and the inspiration for the children's programme Balmory.  The techni-coloured facades to the houses lit up a gloomy day. 

There were a few Otter sightings over our stay but were extremely wary and were adept at disappearing in the blink of an eye.


Was really fortunate to have captured these two on video.




Listening to Curlew on territory always such an evocative sound of the uplands and outer isles.


This was the view at sunset from the Argyll Arms pub in Bunessen.  Not a bad place to indulge in a local single malt whisky. 


The scenic route towards Salen was really stunning with the single track road skirting Loch na Keal with mountains rising high on one side and the flat calm of the loch on the other.


A day trip to Iona was met with warm wall-to-wall sunshine.  The beaches looked immaculate and the rugged coastline of an island steeped in history 






Birds (highlights)

Great Northern Diver
two lingering summer plumaged individuals seen - one on Loch Scridain and the other on Loch na Keal.

Gannet
regularly seen on the the lochs and on the crossing to and from Mull.

Greylag Goose
good numbers breeding around the lochs.

Common Eider
Small groups on Loch Scridian and on islands on the island crossing.

Red-breasted Merganser
seen occasionally on Loch Scridian.

White-tailed Eagle
Surprisingly difficult to locate.  Only two sightings, one of an adult bird close to the Eagle meeting point being harassed by a Common Buzzard.  The other seen well but distantly as it soared over the top of the mountains.


Hen Harrier
A bird that lights up any evening.  Three males seen at different points during the stay including one reasonably close in hunting by the junction for Craignure and Salen.  A ringtail flew in front of the car across the road at the same location.  Appalling that the breeding population in England has been eradicated by barberous gamekeepers on our upland grouse moors.  A truly special bird.

Golden Eagle
Again, difficult to locate.  Just one sighting of an adult bird seen distantly over the Salen road.

Corncrake
Notoriously difficult to see but three males calling from Iris beds around ten minutes from the ferry port on Iona.

Great Skua
one bird seen soaring high over Iona.

Arctic Tern
groups of birds seen on the ferry crossing and on Loch Scridain.

Black Guillemot
single adult summer in Oban Harbour.

Cuckoo
seen well on a few occasions close to the 'three lochs' viewpoint where a flighty pair were present by the roadside.

Short-eared Owl
two seen from the 'three lochs' viewpoint.

Whinchat
Breeding pair by the Salen/Craignure junction.

Northern Wheatear
Plenty of breeders both on Mull and Iona.

Willow Warbler
plenty of singers throughout the island.

Crossbill
calling from the pines on the Ardmore Shore Walk.

Other

Green Tiger Beetle
one scuttling across a path on the Ardmore Shore Walk.

Speckled Yellow Moth
one seen on the Ardmore Shore Walk.

Sea Otter
five sightings of these enigmatic creatures.

Grey Seal
one sighting on Loch na Keal.


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