Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Patter of Paws and Claws

Loch Frisa - home of Skye and Frisa and my office
Matt - our new addition

Well its been a while since my last blog but finally found some time to sit down and catch up.

We now have a new addition to the family - Matt - a 2 year old rescue springer spaniel. He's not had the best start in life - his owners had taken him to be destroyed - I wont go into detail but the fact he can trust humans ever again is a miracle. He just wants some love, a walk and his ball - not much to ask. The cat isnt quite so sure but they seem to have come to an understanding - they just ignore each other.

The Eagle Hide at Loch Frisa opened on 6th April and we have had streams of people through! The eagles have given some great performances and the latest news is that we have chicks! Two little white fluffy heads have been seen in the nest - they are now about 16 days old, so just changing from white fluffy things to the drab, grey colour before the feathers start coming through - Mum and Dad (Skye and Frisa) are great parents - to watch them feeding is such a privilege - they are so gentle and tender.

Apart from the sea eagles, we have been entertained by a male hen harrier, a cuckoo which landed on one of the fence posts in front of the hide and our sand martins who are busily working away making their nests in the quarry wall by our car park. The buzzards have been great entertainment too providing some great displays. We had a black throated diver and red throated diver on the loch last week and the resident Red Breasted Mergansers are a treat for people who dont get to see them.

We get such a huge variety of people visiting the hide, from real dedicated bird watchers to people who are just looking for a way to pass a couple of hours - but at the end of the day, when they catch a glimpse of the sea eagles, I just love hearing the excitement and joy at their first sighting of these magnificent birds - and do I ever get bored of seeing them? never - the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up when I see them - still take my breath away.

If anyone is planning a visit to Mull, come and see us at the Hide - details as follows:

Sunday, 29 March 2009

It's been a hard day's Night!

Well - what a week! Left Mull last week to travel to the Borders for my RSPB Induction Course. A great bunch - about 20 of us and we instantly gelled - sometimes on courses you get a personality who upsets the apple cart, but this bunch were great - there was actually one point where I laughed so hard I thought my ribs would crack - havent laughed that much for ages. Whilst there, we were treated to a pair of buzzards, a tawny owl outside my bedroom window and a dipper. It was lovely to see magpies and squirrels - neither of which we have on Mull - forgot how stunning a magpie is!

Picked up the Eagle Van in Glasgow - had a quick tour round the Kelvingrove - what a beautiful building! before heading back to Oban to see the Red Hot Chilli Pipers! What a disappointment! We were told they would be on stage about 8 - as we had to leave about 10.00 to get the last boat back, we were told we would only miss the last 15 mins or so. They eventually came on stage at 9.40 - so we saw precisely 20 minutes - boy I was grumpy! Finally made it back to Mull about midnight - what a great feeling getting into your own bed - it was bliss!

Did my stint for Eagle Watch and had a great view of our female - against the blue sky, she looked stunning as always - I'm sure she came over just to say, welcome home! Tonight as we went to shut the chickens in, a barn owl was hunting out the back - then the phone rang from one of our neighbours to say a short eared owl had been out our way for the last 4 nights. Finally, remember to check in our nestbox which has a camera to discover a resident - a blue tit!

Its great to be back home!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Goodbye my friend!

My most faithful friend has gone! She has left a huge gap and it feels like I have lost my right arm. She was 13 years and had suffered a couple of strokes and we had to make the hardest decision to have her put to sleep. She was the gentlest, most faithful, lickiest, waggiest tail dog and just wanted to be wherever you where.
But we have 4 new family members Charley, Henrietta, Nuggett and Freckle - they arrived last Sunday and on Monday we had 2 eggs - they are great to watch and have continued to give us eggs - they have settled in so quickly and Pepper, the cat just nonchanently walks past them with a haughty air that only a cat can do.
On Monday, my first day as "White Tailed Eagle Information Officer" (I feel I should stand to attention and salute) - I saw 8 juveniles feeding on a carcass, one was one of the youngsters satellite tagged last year,either Mara or Breagha (see Dave Sexton's blog
Having been present on the day they hatched, to then see one grown and looking so healthy and fending for itself was quite an emotional moment!
The next day we saw 6 youngsters playing tag along the ridge of our local glen - and they call this work! I still have to pinch myself that I am being paid to do this!
Anyway, away for a week to the Borders for a training course leaving he who must be obeyed tokeep house and make sure the wee one gets to school on time, does her homework, feeds the chickens, and of course earn a crust.
I'm sure any osprey fans will be aware several have arrived back this weekend - the female is on the Loch of the Lowes nest and you can see her on the webcam
Spring has finally sprung methinks!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Lazing on a sunny afternoon

Today, the weather has been a mixture of sunshine (warm!), blue skies, hail, thunder and lightening. I arrived home from work this afternoon, pottered about in the garden filling the bird feeders, and got the feeling I was being watched. A quick glance round and I found these sitting over the fence in our "Swamp" sunbathing. They looked so chilled - they are regular visitors and I often find myself talking to them (cue: men in white coats).

We stayed down at the other end of the Island at the weekend - I went prepared with bins, scope excited at the prospect of a couple of hours communing with nature. But someone on a higher plane had a much different idea - lashings of rain in a horizontal type fashion and freezing cold - I managed to chalk up 1 lapwing and a buzzard stood at the size of the road looking miserable. So returned home, to check out the paint charts for the next room to receive my painting skills.

Well, I am working my last week at the small village school - ready to leave this Friday the 13th (should I stay at home?).

On Monday, I start something new - I hesitate to call it work because for me work is the last thing it is. I will sport the title "White tailed eagle Information Officer" working for the RSPB. Anyone who remotely knows me, will know my passion for these birds - they truly take my breath away and to be given the opportunity to work with them is a dream come true (sorry - you may use a bucket if you wish!).

I will be working up at Loch Frisa where the famous "Skye" and "Frisa" who featured in Springwatch and Autumnwatch have their home. I shall be sharing my passion with visitors to the hide - so if you are on Mull, come and say hello - I cant wait!

And on Sunday, we are off to collect the new additions to the family - 4 hens -think of a million recipes involving eggs - fried, scrambled, boiled, poached, cakes, omelettes ..........mmmmm.

The ankle is making a slow recovery - I have ditched the crutches as they were more of a hindrance than a help - crutches, ice and snow do not go well together.

Spring is just around the corner now - daffs are out and Roy Dennis reports that one of his ospreys, Beatrice, has started her migration north (another one of my fave birds). I love this time of year with the anticipation of what is to come.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Warning! Birds are dangerous!

Well - having got the school children interested in birds and keen as mustard - they are now tripping over themselves to be bird feeder monitors - so on Wednesday, instead of playing footie, two of the boys desparate to help, assisted me in filling up the feeders. So far so good. As we walked towards a tree at the bottom of the garden, which is reached via a small grassy slope, I said "dont run or you will slip" as they were so keen to get to the feeder! As the words left my lips, I ended up in a heap at the bottom of said slope, very unladylike, covered in mud and unable to move! I had heard a noise like something snapping - "please dont let it be broken" was all I could think - the boys, bless, were saying "are you OK?" - as I tried to look "normal" with a smile on my face but in excruciating pain, I said "think you better get help". They were very calm and collected and help duly arrived.

Well, to cut to the chase, its a bad sprain "anything from 3 days to 3 weeks" said the Doctor twisting my foot in all directions (especially painful!). Oh dear - I am working my Notice period at the moment - bad timing!

So this afternoon, instead of tearing round doing things that dont really need doing, I sat with my foot in the air, and watched from the window a female hen harrier - incredible to think that this species is in grave danger due to persecution (please sign the RSPB pledge I also saw our friendly buzzard, Bertie, ferreting about in our fir tree - wonder if he/she is nest building. The sparrowhawk put in an appearance too, swooping down on the bird feeder but no success. Then as the light started to go, the kestrel that is now a regular visitor sat perched on top of a spruce nearby. On top of that, the hundreds of chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, robin, starlings, blackbirds, dunnock, greenfinch, goldfinch visiting the bird feeder provided great entertainment for a Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, hubby has started to assemble a hen house - our next project - to keep hens! Add to the list of birds of prey above, the sea eagles which occasionally fly over the garden - are we providing a snack?? Suggestions for hen names gratefully received! Hopefully back to work on Monday with the aid of a crutch for the final 2 weeks.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Love lift us up where we belong!

Sorry about the title! Was all I could come up with - well for what seems a long time, finally a simple weekend at home. Handed my notice in at work on Friday with a new challenge starting mid March - will tell you more in due course - Saturday finished painting the doors in the hall (I hate the smell of gloss paint) - took wee one swimming - while she had her lesson, just wandered down to the local beach - a flock of about 50 Canada Geese with greylags keeping them company - whilst down on the beach several oyster catchers just chilling, ring plovers, a green shank, a pair of mute swans, shag, great black backed gull and a flock of starlings lined up on the telegraph pole like something out of a Disney movie.
Sunday was back to the swimming pool for wee one's belated birthday party - her birthday is 1st January but the pool has been closed for refurbishment (it only opened on 1st April last year - seems a bit soon for refurbishment??) - has only just re-opened - a fine time had by one and all.
Late afternoon decided to have a drive to a couple of local spots - saw a lovely group of fieldfare - then in the field opposite - large bird sitting on the ground with something lightly coloured lying in front of him - crept up to see a dead greylag with Bertie Buzzard - never thought a buzzard would take a greylag - that must have been a battle - glad I didnt witness it. Then drove to a secret glen - the light was getting poor but on the horizon, first spotted 2 sea eagles, then another 2 - seemed to be all in one group, then 2 paired off and seemed to be playing tig - just stood watching them as my eyes watered as I strained to see them in the poor light and as they grew smaller and smaller! I'm guessing there were 2 adults and 2 youngsters - such a grand sight watching them soaring ever higher.

The final picture has now been hung in the hall - I can officially say, the hall is finished. The next project is the lounge - now that is going to be fun!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Pea Soup and Red Kites!

Apologies for the poor quality of photos - this is my attempt at the red kite

Grey lag goose

this is what the photo should look like!

Donkeys at the Red Kite centre - aargh!

Well another mad weekend - what happened to moving to this Island and taking it easy - I have bookcases full of books I had planned to read when we got here but have hardly made a dent yet!

Friday evening was our Bird Club meeting - we had a talk by the Rev Tony Budell who runs British Humanitarian Aid which had some very moving stories and photos. His talk ended with a show of his wildlife photos which is a love of his - fantastic photos.

Then on Saturday morning, my youngster and I were up disgustingly early for a Saturday to join a keen group off to see the Red Kites at Argaty, near Doune. As we waited for the ferry to arrive at Fishnish, we were delighted to see a whooper flying up the Sound - meanwhile, the other party who were travelling from Craignure, our other ferry port, were entertained by 6 dolphins frolicking in the bay "within touching distance" they said. En route to Argaty we made several stops to check out the birds - a dipper up close and personal than I've ever seen before - mute and whooper swans, grey lag geese, eider duck, guillemots, shags, cormorant, long tailed tits and something we dont get on Mull, magpies.

As we got nearer to Doune, the mist descended - the fog got thicker (try saying that after a pint or two) - we arrived at the Red Kite centre - with visibility very poor - but as we got out of the car we could hear the call of the Kites - I have only ever seen one before which was on the Black Isle whilst we we driving down the dual carriageway - so unable to stop the car and have a good look (well, I would have stopped but he who should be obeyed didnt think it was a good idea).

The display went ahead with some food being put out in various locations - first the buzzards appear followed by the kites - we could hear their cries for sometime which made the atmosphere quite spooky in the mist! Finally we saw them appear, first one or two, then finally about 20 in the sky together -really magnificent - unfortunately due to the mist we couldnt appreciate their beautiful colour but could see their silhouette and size. Must do a return trip - hopefully in better weather. On the way back we stopped at The Really Good Food Cafe at Tyndrum (opposite The Green Welly Stop if anyone is familiar) - great home cooking, great price and really friendly staff - well recommended. Think I've got a weekend off this week so may go and check out the sea eagles to see if Cupid has fired his arrow (if you know what I mean!)

Monday, 9 February 2009

Hearts, Otters and good company!

What a weekend! One of those weekends that you just dont want it to end. It started with the alarm clock going off at 6am on Saturday morning - it was pitch black and the rain was lashing against the bedroom window. I was going to Iona for a geology field trip and had to catch the 9am ferry. I dashed to the computer and double checked the weather - yes - it was going to fine and clear and cold - so why could I hear rain lashing? Decided to ignore the rain, although half expecting the phone to ring to cancel the trip - but the call never came. Met the rest of the gang - all 3 of us and that includes the tutor! - and we set off as light was breaking the eastern sky. Glen More was stunning - snow had fallen and the mountains were glistening as the sun slowly rose in a pink and clear sky - phew - the weather forecast was right! We arrived on Iona and went to St Columba's Bay, the marble quarry and a couple of other small bays. The sky was blue and the sea matched it - the sand is white and just stunning. We saw Lewissian gneiss which is seriously old rocks - older than the dinosaurs by miles! In one of the Ross of Mull granite boulders is a heart shaped xenolith which is just amazing.

After the Geology trip, hubby, daughter and I stayed with some friends near the Ross which was a great experience for us - great company, telling tales into the wee small hours and then waking up to Ben More and an otter in the Loch (plus Great Northern Diver, Goosander and Red Breasted merganser to name a few).

On the trip home, we were treated to a flying display by 3 golden eagles - just jaw dropping stuff and another otter, eating his lunch. We arrived home weary but my daughter's words "when can we do that again?" - think it was a big hit!

Next Saturday - another early start - we are off to see the red kites at Algaty - cant wait for the alarm clock to go off!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Just Popping to the shop!

The kids enthusiasm at school hasnt waned! At lunchtime we spotted a grey wagtail, who has become quite a regular visitor to the school swamp! Another great sighting was two wrens - we had a little chat about how fragile wrens are during winter so they were really pleased to have two in their garden. We had the usual chaffinches, a greenfinch, blackbirds, great tits and blue tits and a bird that has done really well lately is the coal tit. We dont have squirrels on Mull and explained to the kids how, like squirrels, coal tits will hide their food and save it for later - just like a squirrel! (I try doing a similar thing with chocolate but it only stays hidden for a matter of minutes). The homemade fatballs we had made earlier in the week had been trashed by the deer so a new supply was hung out in a different spot to try and beat the stag's antlers. I wish I could bottle this new found enthusiasm - it would be priceless.

About 200 yards from home, spotted a buzzard on the side of the road, sitting on something furry! Dived in the front door, shouted to him who must be obeyed "quick - grab the camera - bertie's caught something on the side of the road" - we thought we would drive the 200yards back as if we walked we might spook him - we drove slowly past with me driving and hubby trying to take a photo - unfortunately I slowed down a bit too much and he flew onto the telegraph wire (swear words!) - we pulled into a layby a bit further down and sat and waited - and waited - and waited - even without bins I could see his crop was bulging - he was in no rush to return to his feast.

So returned home mumbling about the "one that got away" - as the cupboard was beginning to look a little bare decided to pop to Tobermory - our local shopping outlet - with the choice of the Co-op or the Spar!

The drive up is quite stunning - along The Sound of Mull, getting higher and higher - the views are stunning and still after all this time - it takes my breath away - a photo cannot do it justice - you have to experience it - a far cry from my shopping trips to Asda on the Isle of Dogs or Sainsburys at Stratford.
Saturday may be a trip to Iona for a geology field trip - it contains Lewissian gneiss which are some of the oldest in the world! Also known for corncrake in the summer - I've managed to hear them but never seen one - bit early and cold for them at the moment! Also home to Rock Doves (I got told off for calling them pigeons - what do you expect from a Londoner!!)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Our future Birders!

Our little village school of 11 children took part in the RSPB's Big Schools Birdwatch last Friday.For the last couple of weeks, they have taken turns to come out with me and help fill the feeders and have a little chat about what birds we might see, how they live and then we would stand for about 10 minutes still as statues waiting to see what would fly down on to our freshly filled feeders. The excitement of a robin arriving to inspect the table and to chase off the chaffinches just filled them with such delight it was a pleasure to see. They were so excited at our chaffinches (of which we have thousands on this island) that it made me realise perhaps we take some of our common birds for granted. It was like seeing them with new eyes. They would rush back into school and tell the Head what they had seen. On Monday we were lucky to have a visit from Dave Sexton, the RSPB Officer for Mull (and local filmstar from Springwatch and Autumnwatch) - he showed them how to make fat ball feeders with yoghurt pots and a bit of string - they were in their element (and so was I). We then had a competition to see what type of bird would land first on their fatball feeder - so at break time today the fat balls were hung and instead of running round playing football etc they all huddled on their bench, telling each other to "shush", "keep still" while we waited for the birds to arrive. We didnt have to wait long - "it had a yellow belly with a big black line down it" - even I knew that one without referring to my Collins Guide - break continued with them sitting as quiet as children can - I'm amazed how they have all embraced this project - they all want to be my monitors everyday that I wish I could take them all out - some have said they have put up feeders at home and can name some of the birds - what a fantastic start and long may it continue.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

A new pair of knees please!

Last night, we said farewell to a young lady who is leaving Mull to seek her fame and fortune in the "big smoke" (that's London to us cockneys!). Our party took over the little Italian restaurant in Salen - indeed, we were the only ones in that restaurant but a great time had by all. It made me think when I was that age and the world was my oyster - a lot has happened - good and bad - as everyone encounters on life's rocky road - but now I'm on Mull and this is home for me. Maybe one day she will come back for good but she has a whole wide world to discover. Love and best wishes wherever you go.

It was during this meal, I received a text to say our geology field trip was arranged for the following morning - to meet at 9am outside the Spar - this message arrived at 10pm - fortunately I had only been drinking orange juice so had a good chance of making the 9am meet and feeling fairly decent this morning.

Having finally fallen into bed at half past midnight, I managed to make 9am as wet set off for Carsaig. Carsaig is on the south coast of the Ross of Mull is quite sheltered. The black sands and rocks are a great place to look for fossils. It is also the starting point for the 3 hour walk west along the coast to Carsaig Arches, which are spectacularly formed out of sea worn basalt columns. So in geological terms, loads to see - but in wildlife terms also lots to see. Where do you look - up, down, out to sea??

We saw sandstone that had been exposed under the basalt - basaltic columns, ammonites, dykes and sills and lots more.

As we stopped for lunch, we watched two otters playing in the bay just in front of us - we were then joined by 2 seals who came to say hello. On the beach the wild goats munched nonchalently at the seaweed - up above several buzzards and a kestrel - and then a pair of golden eagles displaying to each other - such a fantastic sight to see.

We climbed rocks, ran thru rivers, sank up to our ankles in mud (I only fell once!) - I think every bone in my body aches - my knees are really complaining but what a fantastic day. As we left, a very clean 4x4 pulled in and parked on the remains of the crumbling pier (I would loved to have watched him reversing out but saved them the embarrassment) - the occupants climbed out, pointed a camera out to sea and then jumped back in their pristine vehicle. How much they had missed! Off for a Radox bath (can you still get Radox?)

Monday, 26 January 2009

AA Office - Isle of Mull branch

White tailed sea eagle being hassled by a hooded crow -over the back garden!

Oh dear - all the best laid plans and that! It has been quite a bright, sunny day here and you could actually feel the warmth in the sun - our nights are starting to lenghten noticeably. Arrived home at 2.30 to find hubby finishing his tax return :( so decided I would pop up to Loch Frisa to see how Skye and Frisa are doing - not been there for a while! Before I go on, some things to mention - I drive a VW Polo, Mull's road are awful, full of pot holes, the Mull Rally was held at the weekend, part of which used the track up to Loch Frisa - there is no road to Loch Frisa it is a forestry track and finally mobile phone signals are hit and miss - depends on your provider and where you are on the Island - so with all that in mind - having driven thru a large pothole a couple of days ago (no obvious sign of damage) I set off up the track to Loch Frisa with camera bag, bins, scope and tripod. After a couple of miles along the track, I turned a bend to meet a huge tractor that looked as if it was ploughing the track - deep furrows across the track - the driver kindly pulled over into the trees to let me pass - I had no choice but to go forward across these deep furrows - still had a couple of miles to go to where I wanted to be - then the steering felt really weird - but in true female style kept going hoping it would go away -kept crawling along - the furrows seem to disappear then reappear - so decided to pull into a the nearest thing to a layby - thought I would try and walk the rest of the way and not put my car thru any more stress - as I got out the car, I noticed my front wheel was flat and the hub cap missing - oops! what do I do? took my phone out of my pocket knowing what I would see - not a single pip "No Service" - I wasnt sure how far I had to go - but took all the gear and started heading off to where the hide used to be - I knew you could get a phone signal there! After a mile I encountered another huge tractor - this time with a roller behind - ah ha! could he be off to flatten the furrows? Got to the hide site - then I was faced with a dilema - do I ring home first or look for the eagles? yes your right - set up the scope and scanned the trees and hills - then a large flying barn door with a white tail came across the glen - you cannot miss that white tail with the sun on it - stunning - it was Skye the male - he flew into a spruce tree - then noticed something in a tree near to him - it was Frisa, his mate! Bingo! Skye then flew up did a huge loop and landed next to Frisa so they were sitting side by side, basking in the late afternoon sunshine - a beautiful sight. Then I rang home with my tale of woe - started walking back to the car to be met by hubby - changed the tyre - the flattening tractor had repaired the track - damaged done by the rally cars - finally made it back home - luckily I knew that one spot where I could get a phone signal otherwise about a 10 mile walk home with all my gear - but it was worth catching sight of Skye and Frisa - just need to get a new tyre now - that will be a challenge in itself!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Colder and Otter

All this scratching is making me itch!

Well today started cold, wet, windy - one where you look out the window and think "indoor jobs today" but not for me - I had arranged to go out with a friend hunting out "wildlife" - you must be joking - nothing in its right mind will be out in this - Wrong! Waiting at the ferry terminal was a dog otter frolicking about in the waves just in front of us - great start! Bit of a break in the weather, we spotted teal, wigeon, the first of many kestrels for the day and a buzzard that was doing a kestrel impression, hovering on the wind! Further down the loch, red breasted mergansers and a pair of male goldeneye - stunning birds. Then it was into the Glen - quite a bit of snow and it was sleeting quite heavily now but still managed to spot a female hen harrier and a buzzard plus several dozen red deer. At the end of the Glen, we stopped by the loch for our lunch - just in front of us, a head bobbed out of the water - another otter - fantastic - then a little grebe and a great northern diver - we moved further round and again we picked up something moving in the water - an otter with a fish in its mouth - we held our breath - it came ashore - devoured his fish with gusto - then had a roll around in the seaweed - we held our breaths just mesmerised - they are just adorable. Then as we started to head inland, we kept a sharp eye out for sea eagles - "there" i shouted - where? "there" I shouted - I darent take my eyes off the juvenile - against the trees, in poor light, I knew if I looked away I would lose him - trying to explain to someone the location of a bird against a backdrop of trees, all the same species is nigh on impossible - he disappeared out of view but as we drove on we caught a brief glimpse again as he changed trees - as we carried on thru the glen, must have been abut 50 red deer, all down from the mountains to feed. The light was starting to fade and the weather was dire by now - we started to head for home - quick check for the barnacle geese - even they had gone into hiding - but 3 lapwings again, another stunning bird. all in all not a bad day - but the otter stole it for sure. Apologies for the quality of picture, the light was awful and my camera lens is just not quite big enough - pleeeease Santa can I have ......

Friday, 23 January 2009

Farewell Bertie

Feeding time!

Bertie on our Garden fence post

Whilst driving to work one morning just before Christmas - about 2 miles from home the road runs close to the Sound of Mull and its easy to catch otters playing on the shore - however this morning I saw something flapping close to the side of the road - I stopped the car and ran back - it was a buzzard who presumably had been hit by a car - I thought he was dead but as I approached him he lifted his head - I spoke to him as if a young child, reassuringly as I desparately searched for my mobile to call for help, grateful that I was in an area where we could get a phone signal. My hands couldnt work quick enough - all the time talking to the buzzard as he tried to lift his head - he then lifted it one final time then laid it down and his eyes closed. I knew he had died. I felt so helpless and wept at this waste of a beautiful bird - my husband arrived and helped me moved him from the side of the road, into the bracken - fly free now Bertie - sorry I couldnt do more to help.

I dont know what it is about buzzards - I really have a soft spot for them - I know they are not everyone's cup of tea - may be its because we have so many here and have the opportunity to see them really close - if I pass one on the roadside I just have to slow down - if you stop they fly off but driving slowing they dont seem to mind. They look so majestic sitting on a post. We are lucky to have one that is a regular visitor to the bottom of our garden. Recently he has been put out by a kestrel that seems to have become a regular visitor too. Bertie (as all buzzards are name in our hosue) used to sit at the top of a fir tree at the bottom of the garden - one day I spotted the kestrel dive bombing him until Bertie flew off. The Kestrel now seems to have taken over his roost and Bertie has moved to another tree. I've seen this behaviour recently at Loch Ba where a pair of kestrels were displaying and a buzzard flew across their path - they were not happy and really gave him a hard time. Given the difference in size I'm sure a buzzard could see off a kestrel but seem to choose not to for some reason - unless anyone out there knows why!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Decisions Decisions??

Can you see the fallow deer? it was dusk as I spotted them

the ever friendly robin

Barnacle Geese

If anyone saw the weather forecast for this weekend, no-one in their right mind would have set foot outside the house! Wins of 90-100mph were prediced Gale force 11/12. The planned geology trip to Iona or Carsaig had been cancelled but the Bird Club Outing was still going ahead - yippee! I should be decorating the hall - a job I started a week before Christmas but cant seem to get into again -lost the momentum somehow - the call of a bird trip was just too much. So with packup, bins and camera in hand I set off, ably assisted by my 8 yr old daughter and hubby. The meeting point was at the head of Loch Na Keal - as I pulled up in the car, a huge bird took off not far from us -a sea eagle - you can just tell from the size of it - nothing else - you just know! not one, but 4 - jackpot!! There were 2 adults and 2 juveniles - its easy to tell the difference as the adults have the white tails - the young uns get their white tails at about 5 yrs - it was quite a sight I can tell you. The weather was starting to get wild so we pushed on round Loch Na Keal - Great Northern Divers, Slavonian Grebes, RB Mergansers, shags, Goldeneye, Golden eagle, kestrel, common and herring gull, great black backed gulls to name a few - as we approached Gribun, we were stopped in our tracks by a huge flock of barnacle geese - fantastic sight! Through the Glen we saw hen harrier hunting, red deer - and as we neared our final destination - an obliging otter, lapwing and stonechat - the weather was closing in now - and the call of a warm fire and a cuppa was calling - just before we called it a day we were on the lookout for common scoter which has been seen - but not today - I guess they were sheltering somewhere - a seal came to say hello, a flock of goldeneye and some domestic ducks. A fantastic day - didnt matter about the weather - great company, great scenery and wonderful wildlife - sure beats decorating. Think I made the right choice!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Island Blogging

I used to blog on the BBC Island Blogging site - this is due to finish shortly. In its place I have sent up a blog at
where you can catch up with the goings on on the other Scottish Islands - well recommended! I will keep both blogs going (for as long as I can)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Wild Weather!

Well- last Friday I was faced with a dilema! The weather forecast for the weekend was dire - gale force winds, rain - the gales had arrived on Friday and were pretty hairy! I'm still missing 2 bird feeders from the garden. On Saturday I was due to on on a geology field trip to Iona - having done the theory we are still outstanding two field visits - one to Iona and one to Carsaig. Also on Saturday was the Bird Club Bird Race. I had never taken part in the bird race and wondered what it was like. I had also started decorating our hall. Oh dear - what should I do? Then late Friday afternoon, the geology trip was called off due to bad weather and the ferry running a limited service due to maintenance work on the slip way. Oh dear - what do I do? well it was soon decided - hubby said - go to the bird race otherwise you will be wittering all day you wished you had gone - simple! So at 8.30 Saturday morning, set off for Dervaig in half light wondering what was in store. I passed a couple of cars along Salen Bay, but then all the way to Dervaig all I saw was the silhouette of a buzzard. Arrived at Pam and Arthur's who have a garden festooned with feeders - surely we would get some garden birds! At 9.30 the race started - we looked out and the feeders were swinging like billyoh - not a bird in sight! Then something flew past - was it a leaf? - we were looking everywhere - then we spotted a great tit, then a chaffinch - gradually we got most of the garden birds - we were off! the light was still awful as we drove through Dervaig - greenshank, redshank, teal added to our list round the bay - as we drove through Dervaig, a treecreeper was spotted - our list was steadily growing - round to Salen Bay - a dipper at Aros - on to Loch Na Keal - the squalls were really blasting through here - but a ringed bill gull was spotted - onto to the end of Loch Ba and some great spotting of a sea eagle hunkered down in a tree by Pam - we did a quick drive back through Salen through Fishnish, Garmony and to Lochdon where we were beaten by the clock and the light at 3.30. Our final tally was 52 which was fantastic - the weather was awful all day but it just goes to show you can still find the birds if you know where to look. Added to a great day out - great company. The decorating is still waiting to be done - oh well!

Friday, 9 January 2009


Its finally Friday! Having just completed the theory of a Geology of Mull course - which was very interesting, we have two field trips to carry out - one to Iona and one to Carsaig. Unfortunately the weather forecast for tomorrow is not good coupled with the fact that the ferries to Iona are disrupted, the trip has been cancelled. But all is not lost - tomorrow is also the Isle of Mull Bird Club Bird Count! So will be setting off tomorrow to see how many birds we can spot. Weather is good for the morning but rain moving in for the afternoon. From the wite tailed sea eagle down to the little chaffinch, our eyes will be peeled. I should be decorating the hall but there always seems to be something more appealing to do!

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Bit of a murky day here on Mull - on my drive to work this morning, saw the usual gang of buzzards - I tend to average about 5 between Salen and Lochdon, 2 kestrel, shags on the sea with rb mergansers. Have checked and discovered I have a Flickr account but not sure how I link them to here - have pasted link below so would be grateful if someone could tell if it works - or indeed, if there is a better way of posting photos.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

First posting!

Well having blogged on BBC Island Blogging since we moved to Mull in the Spring of 2007, the BBC are closing that site which is a shame. It covered all the Scottish Islands and there was a great cameraderie amongst bloggers. So have now had to start again. Just done the basics of set up and not sure what's what but I'm sure all will become evident.

My husband, 8yr old daughter, Jess the springer and pepper the cat and not forgetting 5 fish, moved to Mull in 2007. We first came on holiday and instantly felt some sort of magic for this island. We kept coming back and each time it got harder going home (which at that time was Derbyshire). I used to sit in the ferry queue in tears - "I dont want to go home" -so we bit the bullet - sold up and moved to this magical island. Since moving here, my love for wildlife has exploded - it is heaven! I've also taken up photography which I hope to share with you - having never picked up a camera before except the odd family photo, and now want to capture everything I see from landscapes to wildlife (the latter is more of a challenge). The picture at the top was just to see if I could post a picture - its sunset from my backdoor - all I seem to talk about is the sky - there just seems so much of it here and its forever changing. The sunrise and sunsets are just breathtaking. Will now try and keep this blog going!