Monday, 31 October 2011


...pays off. I've had the spycam out for quite a while now but the results are in. As you know the weather has not been the best but the camera still does the business when a very damp Hooded Crow paid a visit.
A bigger bird in this next one but in the same poor conditions - a Raven this time.
The star of the show, finally, Golden Eagle!
It could have been better but there is always a next time.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


A good start to the tour on Wednesday as we watched a handful of GN Diver, 15 RB Merg scattered around and a single Crossbill perched up long enough for everyone to get a good view. I'll not mention the weather as I'm sure you can guess! Otter sightings were good on the day with the best one sleeping on the seaweed.
A juvenile Golden Eagle showed well as it was mobbed by a couple of Ravens and a young WT Eagle almost had us fooled as it paraded itself in Golden Eagle territory. We went through all the different guises of the Common Buzzard - Tourist, Bowmans, Pole and the lesser known Wire Eagle.
You have to have a laugh at some point! We finished the day off with stunning views of a female Hen Harrier along with Twite, Brent Goose and Mountain Hare.
Thursday and Friday were, once again, not the best and I had the loan of a DSLR (Cheers Steve). I could go through all the usual photographers excuses but I was just exploring the capabilities of the equipment (is that a new excuse?!). An easy subject to start with - Collared Dove.
Red Deer on the hillside - I know that my camera wouldn't have got this shot as it was too far away.
It took a while before I got sufficiently close to a subject and fluffed it.
A flock of Fieldfare and Redwing showed well but I struggled to get a sharp image - not a bad effort though.
I took a bit of time trying to find some smaller birds while there was a brief bit of sunshine. The Blue and Coal Tits never stayed still or showed in the open so I followed the Goldcrests instead. Did I get a result? Nothing of the Goldcrest but I did get this...
Another opportunity for some Otter shots on Friday.
Plenty of other photos taken but it might make for a long post! An interesting couple of days but I'll not bore you with any more. I'll leave you with a Common Buzzard.

Friday, 28 October 2011


Tuesday we battled our way through the showers in the morning and suffered the heat in the afternoon - 14 degrees it was! A good start to the day for me as I picked up a Short-eared Owl in the gloom of the early morning before leaving to pick up the guests. Our first stop of the day was quite atmospheric as we stood in the rain watching three Otters, the clouds were clinging to the conifers in the background and a group of seven GN Divers were calling to each other - stunning! Next up was a brief view of a female Hen Harrier, 3 Red Deer on the skyline and a distant WT Eagle behind them. A quick botany stop next to look at the Pale Butterwort which was, surprisingly, having another go at flowering.
A cloud of birds in the distance had me reaching for the scope to find a Golden Eagle being mobbed by some Ravens. A bonus bird for me was up next as a flock of Chaffinch lifted off the road but one of them had a white rump. Brakes on, bins up and there was my first sighting of a Brambling on Mull - long overdue that one!
It's the one at the bottom of the picture for those that don't know the difference. I don't go in for giving wildlife names but this is definitely Spot the Otter!
It showed well enough as it made it's way along the shore but it was difficult not to get a shot without a wave breaking over it. Our next Otter performed a bit better as it fished offshore before bringing it's catch ashore. I managed to get a few digiscoped shots for the guests but it was back in the water before I had a chance to get one for myself. Another two Otters brought the tally up to seven for the day. We had a nice sighting of Golden Eagle next...
...and as it moved out of sight we followed to find what we thought was the same bird perched on a ridge.
This one took flight and if you look back to the first flight shot and compare it with this one there is no missing feather - two different birds.
The afternoon was a bit quieter but a couple of Stonechat posing on the fence were nice.
While looking for the Mountain Hare...
...we picked up an adult WT Eagle. We had the bird in flight and then on the deck before it took off and dropped from sight. With a bit of searching we relocated the bird drifting away but giving good views in the scope.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

When cameras go bad.

I'm trying to catch up with the blog posts but until BT sort out my line I'm struggling a bit.
Friday was a bit of a nightmare for the camera and the weather wasn't the best either. Our first sighting of the day was a young WT Eagle having a bath in the loch - superb to watch. We headed to a different viewpoint for a better look only to arrive just as the bird took off. It was flying towards us so I grabbed the camera, switched it on, pressed the important button.....NOTHING!!!! Press again, nothing, switch it off, switch it on - yes, I'll work but I'm not focusing on that!!
Yeah, I wasn't happy with that either. We were lucky enough to find another WT Eagle so I tried again with the camera and managed to get a better result in the poor conditions.
Otters were the main request for the day and we had a few with one close encounter. Guess what the camera did...
I gave up on the camera after that despite the opportunities that were there.
I didn't touch the camera again until Monday morning as this Buzzard presented itself. Camera out, button problem. I love technology me!

Getting closer.

Wednesday started off with some nice weather...
...but there were plenty of showers pushing through too. I headed out to retrieve the card from the spycam as I hadn't looked at it for a few days. I got some nice views of Common Buzzard...
...and Mistle Thrush as I wandered along.
Not a great deal to show for the camera being out but you can't expect instant results from these things. I'm patient enough! So the Common Buzzard was a nice capture...
...and the Hooded Crow leaning into the wind isn't too shabby either.
There will be more....

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Monday it was back on tour in dull conditions. We had a nice encounter with two Kestrel and two Sparrowhawks when we set off. The Sprawks flew up the road in front of us and showed well. A quick look for eagles gave us a blank but the Red Deer made up for that. Next up was the Otter hunt and we picked one up quite quickly and managed to get down the shore to get some decent photos.
A small flock of Fieldfare with a single Redwing were the first I've seen of the winter thrushes. The rain came in quite hard after that to slow the sightings down. Hen Harrier, GN Diver, RB Merg, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit were all seen well so it wasn't too much of a hard time. A cracking finish to the day as we hit a clear spot and picked up 3 Brent Goose, Mountain Hares down to a couple of yards and two juv WT Eagle that put on a good show.
We also picked up 3 Hen Harriers just before close of play. Monday night we had a bit of thunder and lightning that knocked out the phones, broadband and blew some sparks out of the sockets in the house!! Still got a dead line at the house now:-(
Tuesday was a better day with blue skies and the odd heavy shower through the day. A good start to the day as we picked up a Golden Eagle close to the road with an escort of a Buzzard and a few Ravens.
The next bird on the list was a real surprise - Pomerine Skua! It was only a brief view but you can't mistake them from 10 yards away. I hauled in as quick as I could but couldn't find the bird again so no photo of that one. We got stunning views of a WT Eagle sunning itself and then followed an Otter along the shore until it went into the holt. The GN Diver numbers are starting to rise now so it was no surprise to see two adults together.
We were lucky enough to relocate the three Hen Harriers that I'd seen the previous day. A heavy shower delayed lunch but then we got a Golden Eagle when it cleared. A quick change of location to follow the Goldie proved fortunate as we managed to get scope views of two birds and then some drama as another two birds turned up. Four Golden Eagle in the air together is not to be sniffed at! The three Brent Goose were still in attendance and two Greenland WF Geese showed well too.
There were plenty of other birds through the day but the highlights will do for now.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Flying visit.

A flying visit to Newcastle at the weekend. We drove down on Friday night getting my first views of Magpie in a while as they flew across the road. Saturday I was up bright and early managing to catch the sunrise at St Mary's Island.
I had a quick look at the wetland to get a number of Gadwall, Teal, Mallard and a couple of Moorhen. Standard fare for the locals but all good stuff for me! Next up was a look on the shore. A flock of 6-700 Golden Plover were in the air the whole time I was there with a few more sitting on the rocks. The shore itself was awash with waders - Sanderling, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Knot, Dunlin, Redshank and a couple of fine looking Bar-tailed Godwit. I took a few shots of the Barwits standing to attention... flight...
...and swimming.
I was fighting against the light or the birds were just in the shadows but I couldn't resist these Turnstone on the green weed.
Some distant trumpeting had me on the look out for Whooper Swans. 22 of them flew past with the Golden Plover in the background.
I just missed getting these birds flying past the lighthouse so you'll just have to imagine the sight. Here's the lighthouse to help you out!
A quick check round the bushes produced a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Linnet and a few Chiffchaff. One of the Chiffs was lacking it's tail feathers too.
Next up was the big twitch for the Lesser Scaup. Plenty of weird and wonderful birds on show along with the regular Tufted Duck, Coot and Moorhen.
The Lesser Scaup was always distant and I didn't have my scope but the views through the bins were good enough.
Plenty of Magpies were on show in the time I was out and good views of Sparrowhawk were had while watching the duck. On the trip back up to Mull we had two sightings of Jay flying over the A1.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Window of opportunity.

Wednesday was supposed to be a nice day but we managed to hang on to the dreich weather instead. Our first stop of the day provided us with good views of Wigeon, Teal, Curlew and Dipper. Two large birds in the sky had us pulling over to the side of the road to ID them. WT Eagle was the result of that and after a quick drive along the road we had them overhead - awesome!
Three Otters in quick succession were good to see. There were another couple of Dipper sightings with one close enough for a photo.
Late records of Summer migrants are always a good find so the two Swallows we picked up were appreciated by all.
Another three WT Eagles soon had the focus of our attentions. We attempted to get closer to these birds but to no avail. Plenty of Lapwing and Golden Plover around too and with 59 species on the list for the day too many other things to mention apart from the 5 Whooper Swan we found...
...nearly forgot about the Red Deer in someones garden on the way home!
Thursday was another cloudy day but it was marginally brighter in the morning so we were hoping for some good sightings. With the same group on board we headed for a few different spots. A gentle start was had as we picked up a few wading birds including a flock of 12 Turnstone. A couple of Mute Swan were nice to see as I don't get them that often down 'my end' of the island. We soon livened things up with a mum and cub Otter fishing and scampering over the rocks. We headed for higher ground as the cloud started to lift off the tops and we were soon rewarded with a couple of WT Eagle on the hillside and then in flight. An Otter on the shore behind us was a good distraction too as were the three Slavonian Grebe that put on a show for us. One last scan around produced a Red Kite - annual on the island but you have to be lucky! Fallow Deer was on the list of requests and just as we were giving up on them we found three together - nice.
The tops of the hills were just about clear by now so this would be our window of opportunity to get Golden Eagle. It paid off handsomely as we managed to get three Golden Eagle together plus four WT Eagle with another Golden Eagle not too far away - result! A Common Buzzard got in on the act too as it caught some prey and landed close to us to devour it's catch.
Another bonus find was a single Jay that was calling in the trees behind us before taking flight when we were looking at a Summer plumage Slavonian Grebe.
The window of opportunity closed after that as the cloud dropped down and the drizzle started. We ploughed on with the good sightings though with a RT Diver and a Peregrine at lunch. All three divers were seen in the afternoon with the Black-throated proving a bit difficult but everyone got it eventually. Another Otter, WT Eagle and a female Hen Harrier finished the day off nicely.