22.02 — 01.03.2019
So I have managed to go through all of my images from my most recent trip to the Isle of Mull, and I am going to try and simplify my days out in terms of what I have photographed and other experiences I encountered throughout my trip!
After arriving and settling in for most of the 22nd of February, I wasted no time in getting up for my remaining full days, ready to discover what the island had to offer. As I had not yet explored the whole of the island on my previous visits, due to lack of personal transport, I was eager to see certain species that I didn’t have the opportunity to see before. Some of these included a number of bird species, such as the stonechat, rock pipit and oystercatcher. These were in abundance along the coast of Calgary Bay, picking off stranded pieces of seaweed before the tide made its way back in.
The following day I went out on a winter wildlife tour with Nature Scotland, led by wildlife guide Ewan Miles. He took the group of six around the whole island, stopping off at particular locations where a variety of mammals and birds make a regular appearance. Starting along the East coast of Mull, we spotted our first white-tailed eagle far off in the distance, along with curlews feeding just off shore, goosanders and a great-northern diver. Headed further inland across to the West coast, we also spotted a hunting pair of hen harriers who were occasionally being harassed by ravens. Buzzard were also a regular sighting across the trip, including this pair who were perched close to the edge of the road. As we scanned the coastline that ran parallel to the road, we were able to spot little grebes, lots of grey herons and another new bird species for me the red-breasted merganser. These striking birds feature a punk look about them with spiky feathers on the top of the male’s heads! As we continued and headed back up north, we were all excited to spot a golden eagle circling over our heads over a mountainous range. In terms of mammal sightings, we did spot a ‘nursery’ of red deer, mostly consisting of does and fawns born last year, along with a small herd of fallow deer close by. We were lucky enough to spot a eurasian otter as well, albeit at a very far distance away! Finally, the last mammals we saw at the end of the trip were common seals all lined up along the exposed land as the tide subsided. This was definitely an enjoyable trip and I would recommend going with Nature Scotland for any of the tours that they offer!
The most common sighting on the island were of course the herring and black-backed gulls that were frequently resting on the shorelines and near fishing docks. As well as the gulls, hooded crows were a regular appearance across the whole of Scotland, but rarely seen down south. So I was very pleased to get some close up shots of these birds, and more recently I have become fascinated by their social behaviour as well as their features that differ from the regular crow or raven.
For the remainder of the week, I took the opportunity to revisit some of the locations that Ewan recommended for better sighting of birds and mammals, as well as walking around the local forests near the town of Tobermory, where myself and my partner were staying. It was on one of these walks in the forest where my partner decided to pop the question!! It was an absolutely wonderful moment, as he produced the ring in front of the iconic Aros Falls.
As well as having that as a lovely surprise, on the morning of the 28th (which was also my birthday!) we travelled to Croggan on the southernmost point of the island. We were told by another budding wildlife photographer of ‘guaranteed sightings of otter’ near an abandoned pier. So as I set up my camera preparing myself for a long wait, within thirty seconds of sitting down an otter drifted across the loch toward the pier near where myself and my partner were sitting! The otter clambered out onto a lower frame and began to groom itself, before sliding back into the eerily calm water and hunted for about fifteen minutes or so. It then returned to the same spot on the pier and managed to get more pictures of its large teeth and it itched and preened itself. Eventually, the otter curled up into a ball and went to sleep. We decided to leave the otter in peace and left. It was definitely a wonderful gift from nature and the Isle of Mull has never failed to surprise me with its mesmerising landscape and abundance of wildlife it holds through all four seasons.