This is the last one for this year, I promise. No more Mull-based posts, after this, well until 2018 anyway. But it'd be wrong not to blog about a fortnight spent on the island in November, even if it was primarily about photographing otters.
I'd not visited Mull in November before, so I was interested to see what was about at that time of year, and after staying over in Oban on the way up, I chose to take a tour around the lochs on arrival.
But not before I'd had a bit of fun with the webcam at Craignure... My brother visited Mull back in April, and was somewhat envious that I was there again, so asked if I could park in front of the webcam near the ferry terminal so he could "see" me there. Simple, you might think, until I worked out that images are taken only every 30 seconds, and when I arrived, I also realised the area in front of the camera was a bit too small to park in. Plus the postal vehicles from the same ferry as I'd been on, were waiting behind me. I had to move on. So it was a real surprise to receive a text from my brother saying he'd seen me! Daft, I know.
Plenty of wildfowl on the water - teal, wigeon, mallard and good numbers of divers too, with all three main species in attendance. Herons everywhere, of course, along with the ever-present buzzards perched on posts or dead trees, and mobs of hoodies lurking, turning stones on the shore or flying up to drop shellfish on to the ground to break into the fleshy insides.
I needed to see an eagle though, so drove towards an area I have enjoyed success at before, and sure enough, within half an hour, a large shape appeared on the horizon. A golden eagle, and it was flapping to gain height, before swooping down like a missile, massive wings opening, and soaring skywards once more. Displaying, in November! Must be keen!
As I watched in awe, I spotted a second eagle approaching, and then remarkably, a third! One was clearly younger than the others, with the white markings on the wings and tail. Maybe a family group?
Each tour lasts five days, and the aim for Andy and me, as guides, is to get them close enough to wild otters to leave with some great images, and also memories of the encounters. With just four clients, split into two pairs, we would take them out on alternate days, so each pair enjoyed time with each guide, and perhaps learned different things about the otters, and other wildlife on the isle.
We had watched the pair bring food ashore earlier, and then curl up amongst the rocks, to snooze for a while. We hoped for views when they woke up, and our patience was rewarded when mum crept towards us to spraint, and the cub followed.
The tours were over, and both had been fantastic. Fun, exciting, productive and informative, not only for our clients, but also for us, as we observed new behaviour from the otters. Snow had fallen over the last couple of days, so while Andy was keen to head back up north and home, I chose to hang around on the island for a couple of hours, to enjoy the atmosphere in such wintery conditions.