Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Isle of Mull: Day Six - Wildlife, Wildlife Everywhere

Thursday 6th March

A much clearer morning than the previous day's - and a lot calmer.  We headed out early as the forecast showed rain due for the afternoon.

There were Great Northern Divers close to the shore of Loch na Keal again and the possible eagle 'blob' of one of the White-tailed Eagles sitting in the conifers, but too far away to tell for sure.

First big wildlife spot of the day - a White-tailed Eagle.  The hoodies alerted me to its presence, mobbing as it sat atop a tall tree. Eventually the hoodies became too much and the eagle took flight, moving to the trees further along for a short while before taking flight and disappearing behind the conifer plantation.  Looking back at the photos I could see white wing tags and it turns out this particular eagle is White M, a female born in 2007.  You can see the video I took of 'White M' on YouTube here.

Female White-tailed Eagle 'White M' getting harassed by a Hoodie
Next stop was a walk near Craignure up the hillside track to the masts. We had a good view over to the mainland and Isle of Lismore.

The Calmac ferry, Lismore Lighthouse and Duart Castle
I spotted a lot of Red Deer on the hillside on the walk, all stags from what I could see.

Corbie deer watching, or is it the deer Labrador watching?
After the walk, we drove to Grasspoint - a small parking area is on the right just before you reach the end of the road - and sat in the car for a while, binoculars at the ready.  It wasn't long before I had a good sighting - a male Hen Harrier!  It's pale grey body and black tipped wings gliding surprisingly fast above the grassland.

Male Hen Harrier
I also saw a Stonechat perched on a fence, two Red Deer stags right by the road and herd of Highland coos.

Drove back via Glenmore, but the clouds were low so didn't get the best views. Along Loch Scridan, I spotted more Divers and a few Cormorants, Herons, but no White-tailed Eagles!

When we returned to base we had a walk along the Gribun road to Tragedy Rock - you can read the sad tale about that on this website.

Old mile marker sign at Gribun
The locals
Greylags, often seen in the field in front of the cottage
A cottage just down the road, in need of some TLC
Peering inside the cottage was like stepping back in time
Where we stayed - with the island of Staffa in the distance
Sure enough, the rain arrived in the afternoon but rather than staying indoors, we went for a drive along Loch na Keal.  I spotted an Otter swimming, and it came ashore! Luckily we were near a place where we could park off the road and we stopped and watched as it groomed itself, went back into the loch and then came back onshore to have another groom, and mark its territory.  I have had many Otter sightings, but it was the first time I have ever seen one out of the water.  It was fantastic to watch.  I got a few photos and some video, but it was not the best weather for photography!

Otter, Loch na Keal

The cutest of the photos, rubbing it's tum!
You can also view a video I took on youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea9KFtIbU-A&edit=vd

A short drive along the loch after watching the first Otter, and I saw another swimming about.  Not bad seeing two within minutes of each other, and it was definitely a different animal to the first.

A good wildlife watching day. It finally stopped raining just as the sun was disappearing to give us a glimmer of a sunset! One day left to go.

You can read my other Mull Diary Blogs here:

© Karen Hartnell - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way. 
Photos copyright Karen Hartnell and Graeme Low 

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