Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hot Stuff

Friday started off a bit grubby with low cloud on the hills but you could see it was going to clear through the day. We started off, with the tide almost at high water, looking for the Otters. The dog Otter was asleep on the seaweed and the water was still rising so we waited for him to move off. It wasn't too long before he was on the move and showing very well. The WT Eagle chick is growing well and the adults now leave the bird for short periods but still have to feed it. This gives good opportunities to see the adults in flight. We didn't bother with the Golden Eagles in the morning as the cloud base was too low so we headed off. At the toilet stop I wandered back outside to find everyone watching an Eagle flying around - I could hear the gulls making a racket so I was prepared. Straight in with the camera and got this headless monstrosity! Another WT Eagle.The Highland Cows were cooling off in the water so I grabbed a quick shot.We managed to get a pair of Golden Eagle patrolling one of the ridges further down the Ross in breezy conditions. Boy, was it getting hot though. A nice female Hen Harrier was picked up just as we got back to the vehicle - cracking. Two Red-throated Diver were located on the sea at close quarter but just too distant for the camera to do justice to these Summer plumage birds.We had a couple of Mountain Hare romping across the machair to finish off another great day.Another seriously hot day yesterday saw the tarmac melting on the roads! The good weather doesn't always produce the results you would like as the bigger birds keep a low profile and the smaller birds are being a bit more secretive as they settle down to nesting. We did very well in the morning picking up plenty of the smaller stuff - Greenfinch, Whinchat, Cuckoo, Northern Wheatear to name a few but none of the biggies. We did get great views of an Adder curled up in the grass and a male Grey Wagtail collecting food for a hungry brood. Shifting our attention to the Otters we didn't waste any time in locating the mother and cub. While we were watching these two fishing the gulls and geese got up in fright as an adult WT Eagle performed a fly by. We bagged a female Hen Harrier close to the WT Eagle nest which was a nice surprise but the Golden Eagles were playing hard to get. We had to be satisfied with the distant view of 2 birds soaring high over the ridges. It was a surprise to find we had 53 species on the list at the end of the day but we did work hard at digging them out.
Today, Sunday is a day of rest. After a cracking meal at the Ninth Wave restaurant last night and an overnight stay at Seaview in Fionnphort we had a wander round with the camera. This Song Thrush was using the lobster pots as a singing post.Th influx of Painted Lady butterflies has reached us at last with dozens of these beauties all over.The Bluebells are at their best at the moment but I think it's difficult to capture the true beauty of their spectacle. I've put this image on as there is a single white Bluebell in amongst the field of blue.Speckled Wood are quite common up here and always nice to see but they can be difficult as the dance their way up the hedgerows.
Water Avens is not a plant that I see that regular so it was a nice find and a chance to photograph them. Again they are common on Mull just not at my regular haunts.This Large Red Damselfly settled on a leaf and waited patiently while I tried to locate it with the camera - doh, there it is!Oystercatchers are always good birds to see, a bold and noisy bird. This one is nesting at the side of the road and you can see by the square end to the bill that this bird spends most of it's time feeding on the shore. Birds that spend more time in the fields have a rounder tip to the bill.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Blue skies and rain

Tuesday was a cracking day with nice blue skies and a pleasant breeze. I managed to start off in great style with the WT Eagles flying together and a Golden Eagle in the distance behind them. The blue sky was superb but the camera wouldn't focus on it so I used the only available thing to spoil the image.....As the WT Eagles were flying together I nabbed a shot - the female is the bird in the bottom of the image.We got an Otter shortly after this and then the day went quiet. We picked up quite a few species along the way but had to work for them all as the wind was picking up. A female Hen Harrier was a nice addition to the list in the afternoon.
Wednesday I started off in the rain to pick up the guests but it was clearing nicely as we set off for the day. A cracking male Reed Bunting was singing it's heart out at the roadside not long after we started. There is a Mute Swan and a Whooper Swan on the same location at the moment and they are keeping to opposite sides of the loch! A male Hen Harrier was a brief but welcome sight. Superb views of Dunlin and Ringed Plover together but unapproachable as the RP's are very flighty. I managed to catch sight of a Golden Eagle landing on a distant ridge which resulted in a mad dash in the direction of said bird. It was a good view when we got there and then it took flight to display it's talents - cracking.
Today was abysmal - cloud down to the ground and persistent drizzle to start with. We checked out the WT Eagle and could hardly locate the bird. We moved on with the intention of coming back and on our return the bird was on display, thankfully. We caught sight of an Otter hauling out with a fish and he proceeded to do Scooby Doo impersonations with a Butterfish!
The wader collection is changing day by day. The Dunlin numbers go up and down as do the Ringed Plover numbers. They were joined today by 7 Turnstones in summer plumage - stunning.

It should be better weather tomorrow and continuing for a few days - I hope they are right!

Monday, 25 May 2009


The title says it all - you won't get much typing out of me tonight as I'm currently being eaten alive. The little blighters wait outside the door and every time it opens in they come. Wipe, scratch, curse - it's just lovely!
Saturday was a dreadful day but very productive - it rained continuously until about the last hour. We picked up a lot of birds through the day and tried to stay dry. This Turnstone was doing a great job of being invisible on the seaweed but it lost it's nerve as we got within 5 yards. It was only when it walked off we noticed there were two.

The tour was a birthday treat for one of the guests whose main aim was to see an Otter. It was a very obliging fellow that decided to be the birthday treat...Sunday was another day of rain but it did clear a little earlier. It's always surprising how much you see on these rainy days. We had some cracking birds through the day. 2 Great Northern Divers, one in summer plumage and one in winter plumage, side by side. Two Red-throated Diver in sumplum at close quarters but it was a bit dull for photos. A WT Eagle patrolling a ridge which put up 2 Golden Eagle but while we were watching this a Hen Harrier tried and failed to sneak behind us! We actually got some sunshine at the end of the day which is when I captured this Linnet having a bath - stunning.Today came as no surprise in it's watery guise but it was flat calm - midge heaven!! I was dreading the blood sucking creatures attacks through the day so we tried to keep on the move. We were off to a flying start with 2 GN Divers, 3 RT Divers, 2 Common Terns, Common Seal and plenty of Eider. The WT Eagle was almost obscured in the mist shrouded forestry but we got an amazing clear spell for about 5 minutes. We plugged away at things through the day and had a nice close encounter with some Dunlin - look at the length of bill on this one, Pinocchio!!We managed to scrape in 2 Golden Eagles at the end of the day as the weather appeared to be breaking up. We had good views of Mountain Hares, Redshank, Lapwing etc but sighting of the day for me was the three young Redshank being defended by the adult birds earlier in the day. The chick photos didn't turn out too good as I was on the wrong side for viewing and had to take the photos in Braille! Check out the rain though - yuck!

Friday, 22 May 2009


There is nothing worse than misinformed comments (but I could be misinformed).......
'I used to be able to shoot Mountain Hares anytime but now they are hard to find because the WT Eagles are eating them all' - obviously shooting them doesn't reduce the population.
'The WT Eagles are taking over the Golden Eagle territories' - Goldies chase the WT Eagles away and their hunting habitat is being reduced by forestry (that doesn't count though) which reduces the Goldie territories.
'Magpies/Sparrowhawks are responsible for the reduction in songbirds' - what are these predatory birds going to do when they've finished eating everything, I wonder, perhaps they'll turn cannibal?!
'Reintroduction of species upsets the natural balance' - I love that one - no balance was upset by the initial eradication of the species, I guess!
Rant over.
A stunning day today with nothing to do but enjoy the day - it's great when your day off coincides with nice weather. I had an hour out this morning to attempt some Golden Eagle photos. I located one bird sitting on the ridge so I digiscoped this bird on maximum everything with naturally poor results!

It turned out to be the male bird as the female came shooting over the top nearly bundling this bird over. The birds clattered together, I could hear the clapping of the wings as they came together, and he was sent on his way like so.......The female disappeared back from where she came and he flew off down the Glen so I moved off too. On the way down the road I could see a Buzzard sitting in the top of a tree so I snapped that too.
The next stop was for a quick look at the Otters if any were on show. No problem at all with those as mother and cub were out fishing together. Not ideal for photos so I left them in peace. Back home for a cuppa then a few jobs to do while waiting for an old friend, Andy, to turn up. When Andy finally arrived with young Julian in tow we set off back round the loch to see if any Otters were still around. We hit lucky straight away with the mother with 2 cubs. Julian was pleased to get a view of all 3 as they climbed out on the rocks - superb.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

All kinds of everything

If it's not the wildlife trying to hide it's the weather spoiling your photos! As usual some good and some bad but all of it exciting. It was nice to see both the WT Eagles off the nest, a sure sign of a healthy growing chick. Here is the male bird in the classic 'I'm not doing the hoovering' pose.
The Whinchats are performing very well and singing their hearts out to attract a mate - I've not seen any females yet so I hope it's not in vain.
A superb display by the Otters yesterday as what we first thought was two turned into three. The youngsters were in full play mode chasing each other about and leaping out of the water like dolphins - a fantastic spectacle. Here are the terrible two wrestling...
......and all three out on the rocks together.
There have been some very impressive displays by the Golden Eagles in various locations and all a bit too quick for the camera until they cruise along the ridge. The rollercoaster display is absolutely mighty to behold!!
The Redshank are in constant battle with the Lapwing at the moment. They both have chicks and feel the need to defend them from each other - it could end in tears but it's funny to watch the chicks wandering around in the background as if nothing is going on, kids eh?
We had stunning views of a Skylark feeding a youngster today - a short tailed, plumper version of the adult. Last but not least we have the obliging Dunlin. You really do have to watch where you are walking at times as they will fly if you get too close.

Tomorrow a rant, maybe.......

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Normality at last!

Monday was a superb day out despite the fact it was raining steadily in the morning. We started off with displaying Snipe, Redshank at close quarters and then a flyby female Hen Harrier. This was closely followed by a male Hen Harrier, Merlin and Swift as we stopped to look at a Mute Swan and LBB Gull. The day just got better and better with the weather improving the birds started popping up all over - Sedge Warbler, Whinchat, Lesser Redpoll, Common Whitethroat, Ringed Plover. At lunch we managed to locate an Adder and a Dipper feeding a youngster with a nice male Grey Wagtail as well. The WT Eagle youngster is growing up fast, the Otters performed well and we got a last gasp Golden Eagle.
Yesterday was a sunny day that didn't produce as much but some great sightings all the same. We started with some spectacular Eagle sightings. An adult WT Eagle cleared the ridge closely followed by a young bird. They both headed towards the clouds and promptly disappeared and no sooner had this happened and a Golden Eagle appeared out of the cloud. We eventually had all three flying around together - superb. We picked away at the bird list through the day and eventually turned up a male Hen Harrier that rapidly disappeared but we relocated it and we were rewarded with better views. Not five minutes later we had another male HH at close quarters.Sanderling and Dunlin were seen at close quarters and the camera was in the vehicle - I hope they are there today! We finished the day off with an Otter doing what we wanted to do - giving it zed's in style!!

Sunday, 17 May 2009


I've made a bit of an effort to get some flight shots but if they won't come close then it's not worth the effort. I reckon a bulletin went round about my camera and nothing will come near me now ha ha ha! A distant WTE is better than none at all.....
This Greenfinch was singing it's heart out so I obliged but even that wasn't close enough!
This is the Common Buzzard that gets reported as Osprey and Rough-legged Buzzard just about every year. It has to be something different because it doesn't look like the other Buzzards.
I've tried hoying the brakes on and sticking the camera out the window which results in this....
So I had a go at some flowers and butterflies instead. Birds Foot Trefoil - it didn't fly away and it was close enough!
I got a glimpse of a butterfly disappearing down on the beach so I charged across expecting to find nothing - a cracking Small Tortoiseshell.
And then we nearly stood on this Peacock - marvellous!
It really was a good day today though as we started off with WTE, Golden Eagle, male Hen Harrier and Red Deer all within 20 minutes. I failed to find Otters yesterday and it was almost the same thing today. We had cracking views of some summer plumage birds - GN Diver, RT Diver, Linnet. Close encounters with Gannet, Common Tern, Cuckoo, Redshank, Raven and we even found a Swift but no Otters. I returned to Loch Beg in double quick time and started the search again - no problem this time with 2 Otters asleep on the shore.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Cracking days

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all good weather days but an increasing Easterly wind is keeping it cool now. The battery on the camera finally gave out this morning after 471 photographs - that's not a bad shout at all!
In my last post on Tuesday morning I mentioned that I might not get any Otters - I was nearly right. The whole day with not a sniff and than right at the last stop we picked one out, asleep on the shore - phew! It's all been pretty easy pickings over the last few days with the Eagles showing well, Hen Harriers, Whimbrel, Whinchat, Whitethroat etc - if it's there we'll look at it. A few pictures from the last few days - some good, some not so good.
A Whinchat that stayed still for a photo but we had a stunning male that wouldn't stay still enough! The Whimbrel are hanging in at Fidden - four birds in this photo. There is a Blackwit or two hanging around down there too.
A male Northern Wheatear that was vying the Whinchat for attention - the Wheatear won.
The hot sunny days are all a bit too much for some - this Red Deer was just too warm to move. Great views though.
Another Fidden speciality is the good views of the Lapwing chicks as they pick their way through the Iris beds.
An Eider on Loch Scridain in a different pose to normal out of the water and standing proud.
The Butterwort are now in flower - stunning in the sunlight.
Yesterdays tour had someone who really wanted to see Hen Harrier. I normally see them at lunchtime but it all went a bit flat and the best we got was an out of place Collared Dove, House Martin and a couple of Siskin. The Golden Eagle was picked up after we came down from the hill but still no Harrier. We watched the male WT Eagle feeding the youngster and then the female flying in before we moved off to get an Otter or two. The female Otter with cub duly obliged with good views of them rooting about in the shallows. I recommended that people stay on a bit longer to try to clinch the Harrier. It was a worthwhile effort as we came across this stunning male bird at very close quarters - enjoy......
A fitting end to a great day. Just for those folk missing the views - it wasn't a bad sunset last night.........