Nov 222011

In early August Ian and I had a wonderful holiday on the Isle of Mull, where we saw some fantastic wildlife. Having left home at 7.45 pm on Friday and driven through the night, we arrived at Oban at 7.30 am on the Saturday morning (just a wee bit tired!). While we were waiting for the ferry to Mull, we found a black guillimot nest in the rocks with two large chicks calling for food.

On the ferry crossing we saw arctic skuas, gannets, terns and a harbour porpoise. Once on Mull we headed for Grasspoint, and got our first view of a white tailed sea eagle sitting on a rock. WE also saw many small birds there including spotted flycatcher and willow warbler, and had our first encounter with an otter which was swimming in the sea there. Later that evening we went for a walk from our cottage, and saw buzzard, rock pipit, red breasted merganzer and numerous swallows and martins – not bad for the first day!!

Day 2 started with heavy rain. We drove to one of our favourite spots, a very secluded beach at Croggan, and by lunchtime it had stopped raining and we had amazing views of a sea eagle, then a golden eagle being mobbed by two raven. We got chatting to a lovely couple who were staying in a cottage there for the week, and they insisted on inviting us in for tea and cake! Then we spotted an otter swimming along. We followed it for about half a mile and eventually it got out onto a rock and Ian managed to get some reasonable photos of it.

The next day was cloudy but dry, and we drove to Fionnphort from where we took the short ferry across to Iona. We walked across to the North side of the beautiful island, where we saw greylag geese, rock doves and eider duck. While walking back across Iona we heard a corncrake calling, but despite much effort, we didn’t see it.

On Tuesday we left the cottage early to drive to Tobermory, on the way we came across a family of Twite. We had booked a whole day (7 hour) wildlife watching boat trip with Sea Life Surveys. This was to be one of the highlights of our holiday. The weather was bright and sunny, and the sea very calm. The boat took us out to an outcrop of islands off of Coll, where we had lunch sitting on an island with white sandy beaches, looking across crystal clear blue seas. During the boat trip we saw puffins, numerous manx shearwater, kittiwake, great skua, fulmar and a storm petrel. Also had brilliant views of minke whale and harbour porpoise. We had such an amazing day that on return to Tobermory we went straight into the visitor centre and booked another day’s boat trip with them for the Saturday. On the drive back to our cottage we saw hen harrier, kestrel and red deer.

The next day was sunny and warm, and we ended up back at our favourite spot at Croggan, where we spent the whole day, and were lucky enough to see hen harrier, sea eagle, golden eagle, spotted flycatcher, treecreeper, a young hedgehog and yet another otter!

On Thursday the weather was miserable, windy and drizzling. We went for a long walk to where we had been told we might see a golden eagle nest, but not only did we see nothing, we got lost on the way back and ended up wading through miles of muddy bog!

On Friday, we drove round Loch Na Keal, where we spotted red breasted merganzers, velvet scoter, buzzards and golden eagle. We came back to Loch Scridain where a red throated diver surfaced nearby, then spent a long time there watching and waiting for otters, and were rewarded when Ian managed to get some brilliant photos of several otter there.

On Saturday, we went back again to Tobermory for our second all day wildlife watching trip, which was equally as good as the first. We were so lucky to again have picked another day when the weather was beautiful and the sea calm. This time we had good sightings of two different minke whale and numerous sea birds.

On Sunday and Monday the weather was fairly miserable, windy and showery, and we spent most of the time at Loch Scridain looking for otters.

On Tuesday the weather was sunny and breezy – we were pleased that the weather was good as we had booked to go on a boat trip that had been highly recommended. We drove to Ulva Ferry from where the boat took us into Loch NaKeal and the skipper, a very friendly chap called Martin, threw fish out to attract the sea eagles near to the boat. Before he had even thrown the fish, a white tailed sea eagle appeared (apparently they have got to know the sound of the boat coming along the loch and know they will get an easy meal!). We had incredible views of both male and female sea eagles, which flew literally over our heads and dived down for the fish within a few yards of us. It was an absolutely fantastic experience. We also saw from the boat a golden eagle and hen harrier. Driving back from Ulva Ferry we spotted a pair of bullfinch near the road, and saw two buzzards sitting in a tree.

Our holiday unfortunately ended up being cut short, as on Wednesday the weather turned really nasty – torrential rain and flood alerts being put out across central and western Scotland. We took the decision to leave on the 5.00 pm ferry and drove through the night, arriving home at 4.30 am on Thursday morning. It was a shame we had to go home early, but it was a holiday we will always remember.

Sue & Ian Griffin

 Posted by on 22 November 2011 at 8:55 pm