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.

The eagle has landed!

Mad dogs and English men may go out in the mid-day sun but let me tell you sensible ones stay in and have a nap! But that was mid-day let me start a great deal earlier to be exact 3.30 am!IMG_5435 mid day

I woke and could hear a whistling sound, it continued and I wondered if it might be an owl, so up I sprung (poetic licence there!) to look out of the window. It was by then pretty light but there was no sign of an owl, shame! However something did catch my eye, it was a deer looking at me!!! Then I saw not one but a whole group of them walking along on the grassy edge of the loch, the tide was out at this time. I came downstairs and tried to get a picture but it was clearly not light enough for that. I wonder if they do that every morning? I have a plan to try and capture them if they come back tonight.

Back to bed and thankfully back to sleep until a more acceptable hour arrived to get up. Even first thing it was another beautiful day so before it got too hot Sprocket thought he would take the air at the loch side.

IMG_5407  Sprocket

Ian, Sprocket and I had a walk locally and before the heat forced us to return we saw several red butterflies, all too quick to ID and none would settle but this beautiful butterfly obliged.IMG_5431 blue butterfly

We also found a caterpillar which would seem to be the Drinker moth, we had one of those in our garden in Norfolk once. I like the way it is clinging on!

The day really did heat up and as we were in charge of Sprocket we spent the afternoon indoors loch watching. A pair of Mergansers were swimming, unfortunately on the far side of the loch and he was putting on quite a display.

In the evening we all went out looking for a white-tailed eagle and we had success!

We spotted him very quickly and soon after we arrived a second one flew in, he flew over to her and then straight back in his tree where he remained. We didn’t see the other one again and assume she is sitting on a nest.

What a bird! So pleased we all saw them and our timing was perfect!

Tomorrow we are planning to go to Iona for the pleasure of being there and in the hope of adding Corncrake!

Just like home?!

Today has been a scorcher! Too hot to be too strenuous but lovely for a walk around an open garden at Torosay Castle, not far from where we are staying. Not sure how many castles you can stand in and look down on a different castle but you certainly can at Torosay.IMG_5216Walking around the gardens made me slightly homesick as they are so similar to our gardens!!! Oh well while I am away I can pretend can’t I? The colours are beautiful as are the scents as you pass different plants.

It was too much to resist trying to recreate some of the statues, even Sprocket joined in. Although he did look rather quizzical! No one tried to copy the last one but I include her just because I wanted to.

The walks around were lovely, sometimes in the sun then among the trees in the shade again, lovely. I hope Ian has picked u a few tips fro our return home! There were ponds and streams too.

We took time to stop and smell the flowers.IMG_5282The views out from the garden are pretty impressive as is the house  if the outside is anything to go by.

Time to pause for a photo stop then on again.

I am sure that if you have ever seen my house you will understand how this trip out today has made me a little homesick as our garden is so similar!!! Well a girl can dream can’t she?

It was reassuring to see that even a beautifully kept castle garden was in need of a few jobs doing. I wonder how long this bench and gate have been waiting for tomorrow to come when they might reach the top of the ‘to do’ list!

We popped into Craignure for provisions and a much appreciated ice cream. A couple of quick views, of and from the pier.

We were all happy to stay in for a while to cool off, especially Sprocket I imagine, with his built in fur coat! One thing we didn’t know when we booked the house was that just a few doors down from us they hired out kayaks and that rather appealed to Roo and Stu. Arrangements were made and they were off on the loch.

We stayed in watching them, when they were in view, and of course still watching out for bird life. When I thought they would soon be back I stood outside the house, camera at the ready. I was intrigued by a bird calling and flying back and forth and soon decided it was a sandpiper. I had hoped it might be a different type but no it was a common one, very nice all the same!

 

They returned having enjoyed themselves and certainly nit ruling out a repeat performance. I must admit it looked lovely out there in the middle of the loch, if only they hired out boats they took a little less energy I might be tempted myself!IMG_2849 roo and stu

IMG_2850 roo and stu

It.10.15 and the sun has just set but it is still very light in fact I am not long returned from a stroll to get a picture of our house from across the water to get the reflection. Back a few minutes and a Hen harrier has just flown over as it did last night.

I can officially state, being retired is pretty good!!!

 

 

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!