Mulling it over

Our last full day on Mull and again the sun has been shinning. Roo, Stu and Sprocket were up with the lark and out hunting for otters, sadly no luck! We spent the day at Lochdon, Ian and I went for a local walk this morning before the sun got too hot.

The week has been lovely, the cottage is in the perfect setting and I am happy to recommend it to anyone heading this way. The local views change so much with the tide as seen here.

The position on the island is good too and tomorrow the journey to the ferry is a short one. The cottage has been very comfortable although I suspect anyone tall my have difficulties, even I have banged my head!!!

We have been out for a couple of walks, and we have seen a new butterfly, unless we are wrong it is a Small pearl-bordered fritillary and lovely it is too!

We also got a short view of this little butterfly but sadly only closed, we are fairly sure it is a Holly blue. IMG_5747 holly blue

Next we found a new dragonfly, a more subtle fella than the Golden-ringed dragonfly earlier in the week but in my opinion just as spectacular! A Keeled skimmer a totally new one to me (once again if I am wrong on the ID please let me know).IMG_5767  Keeled Skimmer

This afternoon, as seems usual for Mull, the skies were blue and today we were treated to a fly by from a couple of Buzzards. Also today we saw a Buzzard in a small wooded area just up the road from us. On our first walk, on the day we arrived Stu spotted a bird also in the wooded area by the time we were all looking in the right direction there was much wing action and he was off through the trees thus not giving us a clear view. All we knew was it was huge! We were left with the frustration of not knowing but wondering, could it have been a Golden eagle? Now a few days later we saw a pair of Goldens so as far as lists are concerned it doesn’t matter but it would have been good to know. The reaction when we saw the Buzzard was that it seemed half the size of the other bird…we will never know for sure.

Well it is 8pm and we have just enjoyed our meal, Ian and I are heading for the conservatory to see what may fly by tonight. Roo and Stu have just gone off on a Kayak again so I thin I will grab a camera ready for any eventuality!

They are going well but way over the far side of the Loch, too far for pictures.

So I am sitting here mulling over our time on Mull, it has been brilliant. Not a lot of bird ticks but the quality makes up for the quantity, two types of eagles and a crake, not too shabby! Also been the best place, I think for invertebrates, with moths, butterflies and dragonflies. Of course lovely wild flowers thrown in for good measure

Mull is just so beautiful and we have certainly been blessed with fantastic weather, our only problem has been getting too hot and especially making sure little Sprocket keeps cool so we really can’t complain at that!

They have come back nearer our side of the loch so time to get the camera on the go!

Having Roo, Stu and Sprocket with us on Mull has of course been the best part, nothing beats time with family, thanks for joining us.

Off to Iona

A quick look over Loch Don first thing showed the Sandpiper just by our cottage so I couldn’t resist a couple more shots in the beautiful early light.

The plan was made last night, today we were off to Iona and we planned to catch the 9.55 ferry, did we? We did not!

Was it because we were late up or slow to get ready? No! Maybe there was a traffic jam? No! The truth of the mater is I saw two chaps pulled up at the side of the road looking up at the cliffs. Window down I asked if they were watching an eagle or hoping to. They replied that no hope was needed they were watching two Golden eagles! So we pulled off the road(not easy to do on Mull) and looked up, there they were high on the cliff top. Just then a rain shower arrived! As you will see form the one picture I put here photographing them was a lost cause but even with the naked eye they could be see. IMG_2938 golden eagle

On to Fionnphort and we caught the next ferry over to Iona and there was no more sign of rain although it was, as forecast, a little  cooler today. We hoped to see or at least hear the Corncrake which Iona is famous for. We tried first behind the fire station which can be a lucky place for them but not today.

We walked back past the jetty and had a good walk beyond the abbey (we didn’t visit it this time) up to the north coast of the island. On the way we saw a pair of my favourite bird, Wheatear. The male was in such tip-top condition that I had to look twice to make sure that was what they were!

We arrived at the beach where some frolicked, all at lunch and one dug in the sand, guess who that was!IMG_5563 sprocket

The coast line is beautiful and I loved the colours in the rocks.

Roo has just sent me this picture, of course we knew she was taking one with the aid of the time delay but hadn’t realised the clever set up!image

There were plenty of sheep on Iona and they had plenty of lambs. We have seen this breed around the island and are rather taken with them.

On the way to the beach we, of course, visited the local shops mostly selling crafts. We saw lots of nice things but largely resisted temptation. We also stopped for coffee were this little Robin made me think of home, hope you like him Alice. The old kitchen machinery was in the garden there.

On our walk, there and back we did not hear one call from the Corncrake, bother we had really hoped to get them today. With not too much time till we were planning to return to Mull we heard the unmistakable Corncrake call over and over again. We stood watching, knowing we must be very near to it/them but they didn’t show. Never mind that is typical of the crake so we were satisfied to have heard it. We could catch the ferry happy!

It is quite a drive across Mull back to our cottage and on the way we saw another eagle flying, beautiful. When we reached the spot where we had seen the eagles earlier this morning there were several cars there so I guess the word was out!

We are now back in our cottage listening to rain falling but as Roo has been busy in the kitchen and I can smell chilli so I am happy to go nowhere else tonight!

The Corn crake brought our bird count to 230, very happy with that.

Float like a butterfly

You can never be sure when booking accommodation if it will be as described but we certainly have no complaints. These are views from the conservatory at the front of the house, it I sever changing and we have had some excellent sightings already!

The top pictures show our view at high tide, the ones below show what happens when someone pulls the plug out!

As well as spectacular views we have lovely weather, a perfect combination. After breakfast today we went for a drive, Roo at the wheel, up a narrow, bending and sometimes very steep road. All was going smoothly until we met a serious of bends on a particularly steep part and it was all too much for the car and the driver too to be honest. Roo did some skilful manoeuvres and we drove back down a little way before parking ans getting going on our walk.

As well as a tribute to Mohammad Ali this title was chosen because we fund a beautiful butterfly on our walk.IMG_5071 dark green fratilary

I am certain it is a fritillary and are leaning towards a dark green one, even though it isn’t green! Please if you know will you confirm this or put me right. This is the only photo I got but did get a little video.

We nearly lost Roo but…she popped out again! Sprocket looked very proud of himeslf when we reached the turn around point of the walk.

We saw some lovely birds including, Spotted flycatchers, Whitethroats and of course meadow pipits. IMG_2758

After returning to the car we had our lunch and began the journey home making stops for pictures of course. These highland cattle caught our eye.Then we saw our holiday home accross the Loch. The house on the left of the three is ‘ours’.

This red deer stood watching us as we were watching it!IMG_5034 red deer

Home, kettle on for a well earned cuppa and then later ian and I went for a stroll just up the road beside our loch looking for butterflies. We did find a few though none of them new, green-veined white, small heath and speckled wood, also a small red damsel fly. I have never notice bog cotton before this holiday but I keep seeing it now and really like it.

The picture looks accross the loch and shows the house we were by when I took the photo of our house!IMG_5169

Later on this heron landed and stayed feeding in front of our house for quite a while, it was a shame that the light was all wrong.

The conservatory gets very hot in the day but is excellent to sit in, looking our later in the day. Tonight we all got a good view of a Hen harrier and also a Red-breasted merganser.

Well ng this tonight but I hope it still amkes sense! Not sure what we are doing tomorrow but I bet we will have fun!

 

 

 

Mull here we come!

 

Our five days in Nethy bridge were enjoyable if not very productive! As we were getting ready to leave we learnt in conversation that the tower of the hotel, where our room was, used to be suites and they ‘belonged’ to old celebrities. The ground floor was Cary Grant’s, the first floor was Mae West’s and the second was Lauren Bacall’s. We had been staying in Mae Wests and I did wonder if looking down from the tower was where the “Come up and see me” was first thought up!IMG_4843 hotelTravel can be boring but with views like these yesterday it certainly kept us interested. We had allowed ourselves plenty of time so were able to stop and stretch our legs and look around.

Ian managed to sniff out a golf club to stop for coffee, he liked the look of the last hole but suspected the others maybe a tad more challenging!

On to Oban to meet up with Roo, Stu and Sprocket and then after lunch and shopping for provisions,off on the ferry to Mull. We got a tick on the journey over with Black Guillemot in the harbour, not as many as we had seen on previous trips but enough for a year tick and bird 226. What a beautiful day to be doing the ferry, lovely views all the way across.

Our house was just a short drive from Craignure where the ferry docks and having arrived I don’t mind if stay put for the next week, although of course we will be adventuring further afield. In fact it wasn’t long before we were out walking exploring the locality and beautiful it is. We spotted some new friends on the way.

We had walked just a very short way when Stu spotted an enormous bird in a wooded area but by the time the rest of us saw it, off it flew through the tree and we couldn’t identify it, hopefully it will be back.IMG_4946 sign

Also spotted by Stu was this stunning, dragonfly which unless anyone knows differently is a Golden ringed dragonfly, brilliant. By far the largest one I have ever seen.

We walked for a couple of hours and when we got ‘home’ it looked as though someone had pulled the plug out, of course the tide had simply gone out which gave it all a very different look. Second tick of the day was the hooded crow, better picture to follow I reckon.

The swan with her cygnets was of course taken before the tide receded but later she got herself slightly stranded in the mud. She was so funny, she was pushing herself through the mud using one of her feet while the cygnets walked happily behind. We weren’t really sure why she didn’t just walk too!

I think we can safely say this looks a good place to spend time so we will see what the week brings. So far this morning two of our group (naming no names) have been out for a run whilst the other two just watched the tide go out again and birds fly in, its a hard life!

 

 

My new back garden?

 

So things aren’t looking too good for my time share proposition (see ‘Who needs birds?’) so far I only have one taker!!!

But this morning we returned, parked in the same spot but instead of walking down to the river we walked up away from the ‘cottage’ and up onto the heath, I liked to think of it as potentialy my back garden! Considering just a few years ago breathing was for me not the easiest thing and that Ian has, during this year had heart problems we did pretty well with our walk today. We had hardly begun our climb when a female black grouse flew out, smashing, the first female we had seen.

The views were lovely but I tend to find the moment I take a photo they flatten out, still I take some points along the way to keep the memories alive. Here is Ian literally putting his best foot forward.

We found this bug along the way, it was a funny thing. It walked a few inches then flew a few and so it went on. I have just identified it as a green tiger beetle and the behaviour I described with the short flights seems typical!IMG_4807 bug

As we climbed we found more and more dead stumps and trees, they stand out beautifully.

We saw very little bird life, some pipits and a pair of Stonechats. Also this damselfly, which seems to be a large red damselfly the same as we had before. Honestly you drive from Norfolk to the Highlands and still find the same one!

Apart from the damselfly and some wood ants the only insects we saw were dozens of the same type of moth. They never settled near enough to get a decent photo which was very annoying

.IMG_4708 moth

We walked for about two and a half hours through the heath which is just my kind of fun, of course it took half as long for the return trip! This trio of trees, alive and dead appealed to me.IMG_4723 3 trees

We were going to have a stroll over by the river where we visited before but there were other people there, what a cheek! We noticed this rather special squirrel the other day and were amused by it again today.

Later on, (I would say after lunch but somehow we missed lunch) we drove back to Nethybridge. Well  should that be Nethybridge or Nethy bridge, I don’t know and it seems no one really can make their minds up.

We popped into our hotel for a quick cuppa then went off to find the river walk just a short walk over the bridge.IMG_4821 river walk sign

It is really quite a fast flowing river,  I don’t know if it was a tad too fast for some bird life. We did a fleeting sighting of a Dipper but no wagtails at all. We were amused by the man sitting fishing!

It is a very pleasant walk and when we got back to the village we met the RSPB ranger and had a good chat. She said if we return later in the year to get in touch and she will take us out for a walk for better Crestie views!

We are saying farewell to Nethy in the morning so tonight I think we will get mostly packed up and ready to go. We are very much looking forward to our week on Mull and expect to have adventures to report on!