A notable omission from my tale of Mull so far is an otter. Last year we saw one within an hour of leaving the ferry, but it was midweek already, and neither of us had seen one, though I had seen something resembling one far out in the loch from the cottage, but couldn't be sure. The locals did mention that they had been harder to see than before, so I thought I'd concentrate on finding them instead of wasting time staring at an empty marsh in hope of a hen harrier flying nearby.
Early start and while I was supposed to be looking for Tarka, I couldn't resist a buzzard perched on a post at the back of Scridain. Soon buzzed off when it realised it was on camera, but they're too hard to resist for shots.
Back to a layby and scanning the water. It was fairly calm, so the water was smooth and I have to say, it didnt take long to spot the tell-tale wake of a swimming otter! Parking closer, I scuttled out of the car, and down to the shore. Usual mistake - not from spooking the otter (I move when it's under the water, and freeze when it's up, checking the wind direction first), but forgetting to take my hat and midge-spray.
So while I was chuffed to be crouched watching and photographing the first otter of the trip, the midges' biting soon forced me back to the safety of the car. The otter didn't seem inclined to go ashore anyway, as it was busy fishing. And it was time for some toast, a cuppa and take Dad out for the rest of the day. Stopping momentarily on the way to get shots of a pair of ravens.
After checking for the otter again (it had vanished) Dad and I headed over to the WTE site, and were slightly miffed to have missed the boat trip, by minutes, but on the plus side, all four of the eagles were visible. Before we could train our bins on them, a cry of "Otter" distracted us, and we both watched an otter swim past, close to the shore. So that was Dad's otter-duck broken now too. Phew!
Turning our attention back to the eagles, we could see both the juveniles sat in one dead tree with their father, nearby in another tree, probably drying out after bringing back the fish from the boat. The juveniles occasionally took off for short flights, reminding us how massive they are even when young.
While the adult just sat there, looking magnificent.
When the adult male had finished posing, he headed back to the taller trees, displacing one of his offspring, and then crying out loudly, maybe saying "Get orf my perch" or words to that effect!
Tootling round to the Ulva Ferry turn off, we failed to see anything of note, apart from more biting insects (I'm a Midge Magnet) so we headed back again, towards Craignure for a pint and bite to eat. Saw a razorbill on the loch along the way, and stopped for the obligatory shot of another buzzard perched up.
Another early one saw me looking for otters again but finding one of the hen harriers hunting over the ferns, where its markings hid it very well to be honest, making it hard to see in the morning gloom, and hard to make anything of in terms of a picture.
Round the next corner I thought I'd found an otter on the rocks, but the shape looked wrong, and I quickly realised it was a seal! Lying on the seaweed, obviously enjoying some early morning sunshine, which we'd found to be sadly rather rare during our stay.
Also taking advantage of the sunny weather was the pale buzzard, which was circling over the moors, and begged to be photographed with some blue sky behind.
With such a backdrop we couldn't resist heading over to see the WTEs again, in the hope of some shots with the sun on them, but while we did see them, they never flew close, so we had to make do with more cropped-in shots than desired.
Typically, that was about it, for a sunny day. The wildlife seemed to go into hiding when chances of some brighter shots increased. That didn't stop us watching the last of the light disappear from a viewpoint on the marshes. Saw a short-eared owl, albeit from a considerable distance, and one of the ringtails chose a perch miles from the road to soak up the last sunlight of the evening.
We knew it wouldn't last, and the next day was wet. Very wet. Dad again chose to stay in the warmth of the cottage, whereas I opted to take a look around. Carsaig proved fruitless once more, less so as the low cloud made it difficult to even see up top. The road to Fionnphort was very gloomy and rather depressing, and aside from gulls, nothing else seemed to be braving the weather. I returned to the marshes, to see if anything was around. There was, an otter sat on the rocks beside the loch!
Sadly he heard my car pull up, and made a hasty exit back into the loch, but I managed a handful of pics before he did.
Around the loch were the usual suspects, mainly hooded crows and curlews, feeding on the shore. Though one did pose for a second or two on a branch for me, which was kind!
The rain then started to get worse, and having seen the road through the marsh flood earlier in the week, I thought to park up the right side of it, for getting home, and as it happened, there was a rather bedraggled looking buzzard perched up, to amuse me.
It seemed to be looking for anything to eat, and dropped down a few times, returning shortly after, amusingly moving its beak as it to say "Yuck, yuck, that was horrid"!
Despite the risk of the road flooding, I wanted one last look around the loch before the light (?) failed, so I set off, and quickly realised folks had an otter performing. I joined the fray, and despite the pouring rain, watched and photographed the otter with the fish he'd brought ashore.
Seemed a bit spiny to eat, and rather rubbery!
But as seems to be always the case, the otter got it all down, had a brief scratch and sniff around, before heading back out into the water. I guess they're less bothered by the rain than the birds.
Speaking of which, the soggy buzzard was still sat on the post when I headed back to the cottage. Poor thing!
And so ended the first week on Mull. Weather had been mixed, but the wildlife had still entertained. And Ian with his folks was due to arrive for the second week. Bring on some more Mull madness!