With Ian and his parents due to arrive just after lunchtime, I had arranged to meet up with them near the WTE site, so Dad and I had the morning to find something to photo. Little was happening either on the marshes or the loch, and just as we started to head north, Dad requested an emergency return to the cottage, as his stomach had gone into a spin cycle; made a change from me having such issues. A rapid drive back rivalled the speed that some of the locals drive at, and I left him at the cottage, where he said he'd find something to do around the immediate area.
I zoomed back round the loch and north towards the meeting point, scanning the edge of the loch for anything. It was rather a windy day, and having parked at one end of the loch, to look for waders, I heard a roaring sound and the back of the car was thumped and lifted up! Then a mini-tornado / spiral of wind climbed up the hillside, ripping up anything it found. Nice, I thought. Good job I hadn't got out for a view!
By the time I met up with the others, I'd seen a pair of golden eagles, albeit distant, and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Old Hawkeye (Ian) had managed to see an otter and the WTEs by then though, so we headed back to the cottages, via Loch Spelve, hoping reports of the great-northern diver seen there the day before would yield results for us. Mergansers aplenty, but no divers.
While the others were settling in, I zipped down to the local shop for some bits and bobs, and spotted 3 juvenile swallows perched in the arch of a doorway, sheltering from the now heavy rain.
They looked so cosy sat together, and I didn't hesitate to take some shots.
Sunday was already planned out, as Ian had booked us on to the Lady Jayne boat trip (Mull Charters) to see the WTEs, as we had the year before. We had to be up early and enjoyed the sail around the loch to the feeding site. Alas, despite the efforts of Martin, and trying twice to tempt any eagles down, it was a no-show. We saw a manx shearwater and black guillemot, but they're not really as thrilling to see as an eagle up close.
Back on dry land, we went searching for golden eagles and found one, a juvenile high up over a ridge, being mobbed by ravens.
Really shows the size of these eagles when one is next to something large like a raven.
And the juvenile seemed pretty skilled at flying already.
Heading back, we detoured to Grasspoint, but it was very quiet, and the day ended in rather gloomy conditions, watching hen harriers on the marsh.
One actually caught something, and was spooked by a buzzard overhead, so had to carry the prey away elsewhere. Made a change from just seeing them drop into the reeds or grasses, and not appear for hours.
For the first time in the trip, I wasn't the first out, as Ian beat me to it, and found an otter coming out of a drainage pipe on the other side of the loch. I'm not sure which was more surprised, the otter or Ian! Having caught up with both, the highlight of my morning was photographing a buzzard pooping, which was delightful!
Back to the cottage for brekkie, and this time Dad and I were first back out, and we didn't take long to find something. Having stopped just down the road from the cottages, to look for otters, a bit of déjà vu with all the geese going up, quickly had me scanning the skies. Sure enough, a white-tailed eagle was on the prowl, only this time, it hadn't caught anything and flew right over us, to perch up in a tree not that far away, up the hillside.
The light was as usual terrible, but I radioed Ian and suggested he got a move on down to where we were, for some shots too!
Eventually the attention from firstly hooded crows and then ravens, persuaded the eagle to head off, back towards its nest site, though it didn't go too far, landing on some rocks on a piece of land which juts out into the loch. Too far for any pics, we soon caught up with one of the local otters, and watched as it groomed and shuffled about in amongst the seaweed.
As much as we love photographing an otter, Ian's dad found us something more interesting to shoot, when he spotted a juvenile WTE flying in, to join the adult on the rocks, though it kindly flew very close to us first.
I think it was enjoying the attention, though it soon headed off towards the adult.
For a few moments, the skies seemed to clear, but as was becoming the usual, the clouds descended once more, along with a strong breeze and then rain, and I started to wonder what weather Ian had chosen to bring with him for the week, as it was worse than the first one!
Tuesday brought some very rare sunshine, initially at least, and we were keen to try some other places. But not before the traditional marsh visit. We saw one of the local WTEs high up, using the breeze to hunt, though unsuccessfully, and it soon headed out towards the coast. A buzzard was using the same technique for watching over the marshes, and for once, we saw a hen harrier, reasonably close!
It was hunting alongside the road, mostly in front of me, but it diverted once or twice, and I took advantage.
They're such fantastic hunters to watch - wish we saw more down south. After breakfast, we tried Salen and the nearby runway for a change, though failed to see anything, and even the usual WTE site didn't deliver. Whilst driving back though, we spotted a flock of geese panicked in a field, and pulling over, saw one of the juvenile WTEs attempting to grab one, though it never got near, and disappeared into the Glen behind. We didn't follow as we had to get back for a meal in the hotel, which was rather nice, and in good company!
We were halfway through the second week, and while we'd had some success, after the shots Dad and I had bagged from the first week, I was starting to wonder if Ian would get anything as special from his time up on the Isle. Dad and I crossed our fingers and hoped he would, though time was starting to run out...