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!