Friday 9 September 2022

Where Did Summer Go?

I normally write these blog posts into a text editor, format it all, and check it, before posting, but of late, I've been starting them, but getting distracted, and never completing them, so I'm writing this one straight into the Blogger itself, to ensure, hopefully, it sees the light of day.

Summer never really materialised here. We had some nice weather in March and April, but after that, it was horrendous. I know, anyone who lives away from the west coast of Scotland will be saying that they had one of the hottest summers on record. Not here. Ours was one of the wettest and windiest, and it wiped out a large number of nests. In fact this year has been a disaster for breeding birds, from the poor weather to Avian Flu decimating parent birds and young alike.

Not that any of the bad weather prevented me from working, and I did, for much of the time since my last blog post.Anyway, rather than mope about the rubbish weather and my workload, which let's face it, is my dream job, so I don't suffer, I'm going to focus this post on what the blog is called: Birds.

I'm sure many readers find this blog from search engines, and expect to see posts about birding on Mull, so I ought to do more. Yes, I've seen lots of otter action, but this particular post is on the birds only.

At the end of May, a group of gannets showed really well near Craignure, diving for what must have been a bounty of fish in the sea.
Manx shearwaters ventured into the lochs in their hundreds at times, and I enjoyed some great views of them, from the Lady Jayne (Mull Charters) and even from the shore at times. And their presence brought predators, in the form of Arctic skuas.
While elsewhere the populations of great skuas had been hammered by Avian Flu, on Lunga they seemed to be unaffected, and were busy terrorising the seabirds as usual. Because of the spread of the disease, the season for visiting the Treshnish Isles was cut short, but I still managed to squeeze in a few trips, and enjoyed the antics of the breeding birds.
The puffins aren't the only stars there though. The shags were hiding as usual.
And some of the razorbills refused to move away from their perches beside the path, so I took advantage of the close view.
Bright overcast conditions led to some high-key shots being taken of the kittiwakes as well as the puffins.
Away from the Treshnish Isles, Mull itself offered up some incredible sights of birds, in particular cuckoos. At the start of the summer it was the adults that were grabbing my attention.
And by the middle of summer, their offspring absolutely stole the show.
Migrant visitors showed well too, including whinchats and spotted flycatchers.
After the amazing days seeing the great northern divers before they left to breed elsewhere, it was a treat to find one that was just beginning to moult, after the breeding season. And it was very confiding.
Encounters with the eagles were always a treat. Sadly the weather caused havoc with the golden eagles' breeding success, and Avian Flu seems to have killed fifty percent of the white-tailed eagle chicks. Hopefully the adults have some resistance to it, and will survive to try again next year.
And the white-tailed eagles continued to visit the Lady Jayne.
While most of the nests were wiped out by the wet weather, I did see a few short-eared owls around Mull, usually early evening.
A raptor I rarely see on Mull also turned up late summer, a merlin.
And hen harriers were busy hunting all spring and summer, often giving even me, someone seemingly cursed with them, great views.
And a raptor more frequently seen gracing the garden, the sparrowhawk.
A bird I kept hearing but struggled to see, put in a couple of appearances too. Golden plovers. Beautiful birds.
A bird I often look out for, sitting on lofty perches, is the common snipe.
One of the sounds of the summer for me here on Mull, is the chatter from the swallows and martins.
To wrap up, here are a few birds I've seen locally, mainly in Dervaig. I'm still hoping to get a closer view of the local kingfisher, but the osprey and curlew sandpipers showed really well. The red-breasted mergansers are frequently around.
And that brings me up to date with a selection of images of the birds I've had the pleasure of watching over the late spring and summer, here on Mull.

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