For anyone who knows me or reads this blog, it's pretty apparent how much I adore the Isle of Mull, so I find myself counting the months then weeks before going. The last couple of weeks at work flew by and I soon found myself tootling up north, with Dad in tow as usual. The drive up was uneventful and the B&B great again. I even saw a peregrine falcon over the car park in the morning.
As with last year, after a brief shopping spree in Tescos, we were one of the first on the ferry and hence first off it too, immediately heading around to see if the white-tailed eagles were on show at Kellan. They weren't! In fact not much was apparent anywhere apart from something lacking from last year; sunshine. The afternoon turned out to be lovely so we took advantage and photographed the scenery in such conditions. The bright sunny weather really transforms the island, making the scenery so vibrant.
Sunday was calm, sunny and very warm. Wanting to photo as much scenery as we could, we headed right up around Na Keal, up past Treshnish and over to Calgary. It became apparent that the breeding season had been kind to swallows, martins, pied wagtails and pipits, with flocks of the latter scattering from the roadside as we drove along. Also seemed to be more stonechats around, though very few wheatears.
After the brightness of Sunday, Monday morning was rather gloomy, but the loch was like glass. With a trip aboard the Lady Jayne booked for 10am, I didn't bother with my usual morning trip out, getting up after Dad for once. I did see him out front though, and realised he'd spotted an otter. Watching his step down the slope to get a bit closer, he'd not realised that the otter had resurfaced, and he had been made by it. It headed along the loch but I'd seen this and from the cover of the road, I could follow it. As usual, I'd not had chance to douse myself with Jungle Formula, so put up with the biting midges to grab a couple of shots of the otter as it came ashore, before it headed off across the water.
Tuesday already, and it started wet. But I was determined not to waste a moment, and went out early anyway. One sheltered corner of the loch was home to several smaller birds; pipits, stonechats, wrens, robins and even blackbirds. So when (as usual) the hen harriers weren't on view, nor the otters, I parked up there and made do with these other local characters.
The lure of the pub at Craignure for dinner was too much, and after that, calling into the view point in the glen proved to be a great move, as I spotted a shadow circling below us, which rose up and revealed itself to be a juvenile white-tailed eagle, hunting the hillsides.
Midweek and another drive over to Kellan, though that was after seeing an otter rather close in on the shore near the cottage. On the drive over we also saw a guillemot fishing on the loch, making rather a splash too. Maybe more noticeable on a mirror-like loch.
I said it loud enough for the group to hear and Peter's ears pricked up. He was on to it in a flash and I reckon I made his day with the sighting. Turns out he went to school only a few miles from my house - another Brummie!
The Bonxie seemed to have a brief go at the eagle, perhaps more in defence than anything, before heading inland, leaving the eagle to collect the fish. With the eagles returning towards us, I managed to get some shots with the mountains as a backdrop.
More gloom on Thursday and I couldn't see the loch first thing! When it lifted, the local otter performed some more magic and vanished in front of me. For once there were some hen harriers on the marsh, but both dropped out of sight. Was good to see some small waders around though, with golden and ringed plovers, dunlins and a turnstone feeding from the exposed mud. But too far to bother with for shots, especially having seen the golden plover in such magical conditions in Shetland. Photographed a lone seal sat beside Na Keal, which was something at least!
After another pub meal, we saw glimpses of a juvenile golden eagle in the glen, searching for somewhere to shelter from the driving rain. But it wasn't an evening to be staring up at the sky, and the warmth of the cottage tempted us back. With Steve and Ann already in Oban, maybe the second week would provide some better luck with the hen harriers and more magic with the eagles?