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Arthur's Mull Bird List 2018

Due to the rising cost of fuel and food prices some tours on Mull have raised their prices this year but for the 5th year in a row the cost of a
 'Discover Mull Wildlife tour' will remain at £40 per person when booked direct. Discover Mull tours booked through booking agents on the island could cost you more.
We are taking bookings for tours and self-catering for 2018,  book in advance to avoid dissapointment
Arthur & Pam Brown, Ardrioch Farm, Dervaig, Isle of Mull, Argyll PA75 6QR
Tel: 01688 400415 or 07780 600367          Check out our Self Catering cottages web site
February 2018
Feb 18th
A trip to Calgary Bay With Pam and we saw a Black THroated diver just starting to change into its Summer breeding plumage always a treat to see this birders iconic bird. Also at Calgary were Shags, Oystercatchers, Great Northern Divers, Curlews and Black Guilliemot in full Summer Breeding plumage. We had a (m) moment in our garden today, a single Starling turned up, this could hardly be called a mermeration. Also making a first appearance in the garden this year 3 Mistle Thrushes although I think they were just passing through. On a cautious note there has been a lot of trees damaged in the vicinity of our local pair of White tailed Eagles nest, after all their hard work I hope the nest tree survives this year.
Feb 17th
I was unable to go with Arthur yesterday as I was making home-made chutney ready for the tours this season so I joined a couple of friends in the afternoon on a Snowbunting hunt. After a longish drive and a fairly long walk we arrived at the spot where Arthur had seen the Snow Buntings .... nothing ... we decided to go and sit on a close by wooden bridge over the river when we suddenly heard a small bird call as it flew by, one single male Snow Bunting came and sat on a mound and posed whilst my friends took photo's before flying off again in search for his friends. We sat on the bridge enjoying the spectacular views around us of snow capped mountains with eagles flying high (and sometimes low) above them, in total we saw 8 White-tail Eagles, 6 Golden Eagles some displaying, 5 Buzzards, 1 Peragrine and 1 Long-tail Tit, this was on the walk back.
Feb 16th
Now I know we all like a good moan but when service is good it should be appreciated, so I wish to thank BT and the post office for their excellent service regarding our new WIFI router, Pam phoned BT at 9-30am on Thursday and the replacement arrived at Ardrioch on Mull in the post on Friday afternoon, a perfect responce, if only our WIFI speed was half as fast. Today my birding was all about  Snow Buntings, I had heard there had been some seen on Mull but it required a fairly long walk after a longish drive to go and look for them, I was lucky to find them at the same spot that they had been seen before and after watching them for some time took a few photos, these two are the best. I came home with some of my muscles telling me I need to get out and walk a lot more often.
SnowbuntingsSnowbunting male
Feb 15th
We woke up to a massive thunder storm which blew out the WIFI router in the office so we cannot upload this blog at the moment which is a pain. The village of Dervaig across the water is completely without power. We have just bought new mattresses for all the self-catering beds and one for ourselves as well, we should sleep well tonight and I hope my back appreciates the firmer support. The Brambling are back in the garden as is the Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper. We have lots of Siskins in the garden as well as our other regulars and Lucy does not know which way to look when I take her out on walks of discovery around the garden. A note on the weather, wetter and windier and colder than yesterday if that's possible.
Feb 14th
Out and about this afternoon in very cold, windy and squally conditions, certainly not very pleasant. we were lucky to see an Otter fairly close although when I got out of the car to try for a photo I could barely stand up. Other mammals seen were Common Seals and Red Deer. A skein of Barnacle Geese were flying over Inch Kenneth and there were also Canada and Greylag Geese seen in good numbers. A flock of Fieldfares in a field foraging as a pair of ravens looked on. On Loch Na Keal we saw 5 Razorbills, 3 Goosander and a single Glaucous Gull, also Great Northern Divers and Red Breasted Mergansers on the Loch. A flock of Turnstone landed on the Lochside joining Oystercatchers already there, other Waders seen were Curlews, Lapwings and Redshank. Finally we did see some birds of prey, Kestrel, Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk, it is good to be back in spite of the weather.
Feb 13th
We spent the day unpacking and getting Lucy used to her new home, she already thinks she is in charge taking over my favorite seat in the living room. She has settled in very well and has had several walks around the garden to get her used to her new surroundings. I hope to get out birding tomorrow so normal service will be resumed.
Lucy in Arthurs seatLucy in her basket
Feb 8th to 12th
We have had a lovely time with family down in Cheshire and our son and daughter-in-law took advantage and took some time out for themselves leaving us to look after the Grandchildren, as you can imagine Pam was in her element even if we were both knackered by the end of the day, we slept well, very well.  We picked Lucy our new Sheltie pup up on the 10th and brought her home to Mull on the 12th, the good news she was not sick at all in the car and seems quite at home in her new dog cage. The birds were quite happy to see us return as the feeders were all empty, the neighbours were also happy as they had inadverdently been feeding some of our birds whilst we were away.
Feb 4th to 7th
A quick visit down to Cheshire to visit Arthurs Dad and meet our new Sheltie pup, Lucy. We are both so excited and we can't wait to pick her up in a couple of days to bring home to Mull.
Pam & pup
Feb 3rd
There is not a lot to write about today although Pam and I were out early doors and did see not one but two Barn Owls, Pams first and second of the year.
Feb 2nd
Pam had another good day today as she saw the local Sparrowhawk at last, she also saw a Golden Eagle flying very close to Ardrioch not a bird we often see near our house, over the back ridge, yes but rarely on the Loch side. I had to go to the dentist today and for one of my teeth it was not good news it was decided that it was too far gone to save so it has to come out, I have an appointment in the near future, Oh Joy. We had a nice meal at the Mishnish in Tobermory last night with our friends Jac and Mike, they both had some very nice steaks and I because of my tooth had to go with the Salmon and noodle option, before you get too sympathetic I really enjoyed it as I don't got noodles at all as Pam doesn' like them. We are hoping to get a new Sheltie puppy soon, fingers crossed.
Feb 1st
Winter is officially two thirds over and if like me you are looking for signs of Spring then look no further. I was out with Pam today and between the squally showers it was beautiful sunshine even if it was a gale force westerly wind. The first sign of Spring was a beautiful Grey Wagtail precariously perched on power lines, certainly in the wind but also in wonderfull sunshine. Also enjoying the sun and wind was a Golden Eagle ball diving just for fun or to impress a female, probably both. Finally the new year flowers are starting to appear with of course Snowdrops leading the way as usual although we have also got Primroses out at Ardrioch in sheltered areas. So my advice forget the Winter and get out and look for signs of Spring in your area. Birdwise start listening for calling Great Tits always nice to hear and it brings joy after the dark days of Winter.
Snowdrops sign of springGrey Wagtail on wire
January 2018
Jan 31st
As regular readers know I have been a Manchester City supporter since I was eight years old and at last a Blue moon rising. (check photo taken this evening). We went to Calgary and Cailaich today and Pam saw her first Gannet of the year from Mull, I missed it as I was trying to find a Jack Snipe which I also failed to find. We watched a Golden Eagle interacting with a Buzzard which was nice to see as Golden Eagles have not been seen about much lately as they don't like to fly in rain. Pam who was certainly in a spotting mood today as she saw a Merlin flying past as I was negotiating one of the several potholes which have appeared on Mulls roads since the snow and ice.
Blue Moon
Jan 30th
A very quiet day spent doing indoor chores as it was seriously raining outside. We now have 3 Bramblings in the garden and at least 3 Yellowhammers and an overload of Chaffinches.
Jan 29th
Trouble in Arthur's world, Pam had an appointment with the nurse in Salen and I in my wisdom advised getting there early, this was so I could go birding. I dropped her off at 10 past 9 and went to pick her up at half past 10 and she was still waiting, I was left in no doubt that she was not a happy bunny. On the upside I did see some nice birds whilst she was patiently waiting (see what I did there) firstly 2 Mistle Thrushes, birds Pam has yet to see this year, and I got a Photo just to rub it in. I also got some nice Duck pictures particularly the Wigeon and Teal, the Goosander picture is not as good but I liked the Heron looking on in the background. Whilst waiting for Pam a pair of Bullfinches flew into a tree near the car park my first Bullfinches of the year, again Pam has yet to see any, but just to keep the peace I     won't refer to this again although I think Bullfinches are beautiful birds. A bit of good news for Pam she might have found us a new Sheltie puppy, I will keep you informed, it is a bit like the football transfer window, negotiations on both sides ongoing.
Mistle ThrushWidgeon & Oystercatchers
Heron & MerganzersTeal
Jan 28th
A walk around our land today where we had a very good view of our neighbours refurbished home, yes the local White-tailede Sea Eagles have nearly completed their new nest and very impressive it looks. one of the adult birds was sitting at the top of the nest tree and the other flew in and gave us a very good sighting, it now only remains to be hoped that the new hydro plant building traffic does not disturb them, as it has been going on all winter I don't envisage any problems. On our walk round we put up a couple of Woodcock, it doesn't half make you jump as they fly out of the undergrowth from right under your feet.
Jan 27th
We did the Big Garden Birdwatch today and I will list the birds seen in our garden at Ardrioch. Blue Tits (4), Great Tits (4), Coal Tits (3), Treecreeper (1), Chaffinches (140), Goldfinches (24), Siskins (22), Greenfinches (12), Bramblings (2) House Sparrows (5), Yellowhammers (2), Robins (3), Blackbirds (3), Dunnocks (6), Collared Doves (2), Rock Doves (23), Feral Pigeons (2), Common Buzzard (1), Hooded Crow (1), Jays (2), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1). This was a total of 21 species and 263 birds it is no wonder that they are eating us out of house and home but what a privilege to watch them and all their idiosyncrasies and to know we are helping them get through the Winter months.
Jan 26th
Out and about and another wildlife experience between a White-tailed Sea Eagle and an Otter. The tide was coming in and I spotted the White-tailed Eagle standing on a rock sticking out of the water and I then noticed that the dark seaweed right by the Eagle was in fact a sleeping Otter, it was so close you could not have got a piece of paper between them which in itself is a little unusual. As the tide came in the Otter woke up and did a little stretch before calmly standing up, it proceeded to stroll past the Eagle so close that the Eagle jumped as if startled and proceeded to fly off. The Otter nonchalently wandered to the edge of the rock and slid into the water before gliding off unconcerned. Just another Mull wildlife encounter. When I got home Pam informed me the Brambling had returnrd in time for the big garden birdwatch tomorrow.
Chaffinch & Brambling
Jan 25th
Firsly I must thank Jac and Mike for coming and taking the old windows to the tip in Mike's van another Winter job out of the way. A trip round the block with Pam this afternoon and at one point  an unusual occurance of a lone Long Tailed Tit in a tree with a single Blue Tit, a single Treecreeper, a Robin and a Goldcrest, the first one for Pam this year. We wondered if this was the equivelent to our singles nights. We had a great time trying unsuccessfully to find a Mistle Thrush in a field full of Fieldfares although there were a couple of Redwings mixed in with them. On the way back home we saw this Red Deer stag close enough, for once, for me to get a photograph.
Red Deer stag
Jan 24th
A Short finned Pilot Whale has died and been washed up on Calgary Beach, the whale has been covered up by the Whale and Dolphin Trust with help from friends of Calgary Bay but this has not stopped this first winter Glaucous Gull finding a good chunk of blubber to keep it going for a few days.
Glaucous Gull Calgary
Jan 23rd
Sometimes when out wildlife watching the unexpected can take your breath away and that is what happened to me today. I had stopped to check out a White-tailed Sea Eagle spot when a Kestrel hunting caught my eye and just as I focused my binoculars another bird got up right under the Kestel, it turned out to be a female Hen Harrier and I watched in awe as these two iconic preditors hunted together over the same piece of ground for several minutes one above the other. Presumably they were looking for the same prey Voles or Mice but it shows how hungry theses birds get in Winter if neither was prepared to give up its hunting territory to the other now the snow has gone. Anyway whatever the reason I was the beneficiary of a spectacular piece of wildlife action, the memory of which will stay with me through the rest of the Winter months.
Jan 22nd
Out and about today and although the weather was much warmer in temperature in the wind and rain it still felt very cold. As the water was very rough it was difficult to see any birds on the Lochs just on the edges where the Mallards, Teal, Wigeons and goosanders were all taking cover in hidden coves. I did see 1 White-tailed Sea Eagle, note photo below and some Red Deer. Other birds of prey seen were a single Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk that flew across the road in front of the car. My bird of the day was the Glaucous Gull still in Lagganulva Bay, it is a very large Gull as you can see it is much larger than the Herring Gull next to it in the water.
WTSE on beachGlaucous Gull with Herring Gull
Jan 21st
Frost and more snow = ice. It gets a little warmer although as the wind gets up it does not feel any warmer = wind chill. As it warms up the snow turns to sleet and rain = thawing but very slowly. After lunch just rain and the snow and ice on the ground starting to disappear= faster thawing. Just before dark heavy rain, a lot warmer the snow and ice on the yard has gone but still some on the fields and with warmer weather forcast overnight we hope for a full thaw by morning = I can get out wildlife watching again. Hoorah! Don't forget to fill up your bird feeders this week as it is big garden birdwatch at the weekend. Please take part if you can it is good fun and provides scientific information on the state of our Winter birds.
Jan 20th
Today we braved the ice and snow and went to Loch Na Keal to look for the Little Gull and Little Auk which had been seen recently we were fortunate to find the Little Auk but did not see the Little Gull. We saw 4 Otters during the day, 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles and 4 Red Deer Stags and plenty of Great-northern Divers. The sewage outfalls provided us with lots of birds and many species all vying for food during this very cold period. At Killiechronan we saw lots of Ringed and Golden Plovers always nice birds to see. The Goosanders and Red Breasted Mergansers are now looking beautifully resplendent in their breeding plumage as Winter moves on and Spring gets ever nearer. Two other ways to tell Spring is on the way, Great Tits have started calling and we have Primroses in bloom around the house, yes Primroses in bloom a sprinkle of Yellow colour amongst the snow.
Ben More covered in snowGN
Jan 18th-19th
The weather is still poor and not fit to venture out in unless neccesary although being stuck at home did have one plus, I saw our local Sparrowhawk fly through the garden scattering the birds on our feeders everywhere.
Jan 17th
Ventured out to Calgary and beyond, it was a bit hairy at Reudle but made it back OK. Two Black Throated Divers in Calgary Bay with the usual Waders at Dervaig otherwise little to report on the wildlife front. Pam had made croissants and home made Tomato soup for lunch, it was yummy but man there is an awful lot of butter in a croissant and I ate four.
Snipe in silloutteeRedshank walking away
Jan 16th
Lots of Snow-
Stayed in after feeding the birds.
Garden birds on feeder
Jan 15th
Pam and I went to the Knock Hatchery outfalls today in freezing conditions with wintry showers, we were hoping to find the Gadwalls seen on the bird count and thanks to Pam's extreme vigilance we eventually found the female bird. We also saw Turnstones, Teal, Goldeneye, Shelducks, all 4 of Mulls winter Gulls plus the long staying Glaucous Gull, Hooded Crows and Starlings. We did get one suprise as we reached the outfalls we spotted an Otter on some shingle and I managed a photograph from a suitable distance so as not to disturb it. On our way home we saw a second Glaucous Gull in Lagganulva Bay. Back at home I saw the Yellowhammer in the garden that Pam had seen a few days ago and managed a nice photo of it for confirmation.
Otter curled upYellowhammer in the garden
Jan 14th
No wildlife watching today as we were still getting over being cold and wet yesterday but we did get my 2018 bird list up and running so you can check that out on line.
Jan 13th
It was not the best weather for a bird count very windy and light rain all day my least favorite conditions. As a club we did very well as the conditions deterred all but the most hardy birders and we managed a total of 81 species of birds in the day, the same as last year. Pam and I had a great day seeing 63 species in total which included 7 new species for my Mull year list. The highlight bird was certainly the Red Necked Grebe seen on Loch Scridain, a bird rarely seen on Mull. Other firsts for the year were Merlin, Whooper Swans, Tufted Ducks, Fieldfare, Kittiwakes and Razorbills. We missed our friends Nick and Catherine , John and Jo who normally join us for the count but unfortunately they have all had the colds and flu which is rife on Mull at the moment, Nick has been particularly badly hit and is still far from well after more than 3 weeks, we wish him a speedy recovery.
Jan 12th
A day with no wildlife watching very unusual for me but I am saving up my time for the Mull bird club bird count which is tomorrow and Pam and I are going to the South of the Island as it was not covered in last years count so it means a very early start for us.
Jan 11th
The day started cold only -4degrees when I started the car at 5-15am to go on an Owl hunt. In 2 minutes I had seen a Barn Owl, it was the local one to us over the road from the White-tailed Sea Eagle nest. I drove round very slowly because of the conditions and saw absolutely nothing for the next 2 hours except 5 Red Deer and 3 Rabbits. We went round to our lovely neighbours John and Jo's for morning coffee and a catch up chat and had some of Jo's excellent scones. Our other great neighbours and friends Nick and Catherine have both been laid up with Flu, Nick has been particularly unwell so we have yet to see him this year. Nick and Catherine usually go on the Isle of Mull bird count with us but this year it looks like it will be just us, if it takes place on Saturday as the weather looks very poor.
Jan 10th
A trip around the block this afternoon which brought me 2 new birds for my Mull year list, at last Ringed Plovers there were 2 of them at Lainne Sguerr near Calgary and a Mistle Thrush in a field with Redwings, a Song Thrush and a Chaffinch at Torloisk. On my way round I took this poor photograph of Ben More in evening sunshine with its snow capped peak. We now have new windows in Inch Hame the larger of our 2 self-catering cottages so now guests will get an even better view of our garden birds. The Shieling had new windows fitted a few years ago so now both cottages are cosy and warm. I had to help our builder lift the large window into place so birding was somewhat limited today.
Ben More snow capped
Jan 9th
A very windy day with everything hiding even the Ducks were on shore so as not having to battle the waves. I tried walking but it was a case of 1 step forward 2 steps back, but everyone loves a trier or so I have been told. There were 4 Bar Tailed Godwits with Curlews and Oystercatchers at Killiechronan at high tide all with their long bills tucked into their feathers, trying to keep warm and also keep their balance, none of them were standing on one leg. There were lots of Ducks particularly Teal looking quite funny as they shuffled up and down on large rocks next to the sea, acting a bit like Emperor Penguins at the Antarctic trying to keep warm. I must admit it felt a bit Arctic here with the wind chill when according to the car temperature gauge it was 7 degrees at one time.
Jan 8th
A quieter day after the big day yesterday although I did go to Cailaich for my daily walk, Pam stayed at home as she was coming down with a cold, I hope it does not turn into the flu which is currently circulating round the Island and is quite dibillitating. The walk was excellent in spite of the fact that the wildlife was at a premium. There were 4 Redwings which kept flying up the road in front of me, a handfull of Greylag Geese, the usual Shags and Oystercatchers, Herring Gulls and a Curlew. The only really unusual spot were 11 Teal in the bay which although not rare on Mull only occasionally do you get to see them in Cailaich Bay.
Cows & Calmac
Jan 7th
A lovely day and so we took the opportunity to go down to the Ross of Mull with friends. During the day we saw lots of Red Deer, 2 Otters, 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles, a Golden Eagle and a female Hen Harrier. It was the smaller birds I was after though, as many of my guest know I love looking for the little birds and Wading birds and all in we did very well. On the Wader front we saw a single Golden Plover, it is unusual to see them on their own, and a flock of 17 flying Lapwings. Little Birds seen included around 20 Reed Buntings seen at 3 different sites with 11 at one sit the most I have ever seen together. There was a field full of small bird feeding like mad, mostly Chaffinches and Rock Pipits but there were several Meadow Pipits amongst them and a single Pied Wagtail. There were lots of Rooks and Jackdaws which we had expected to see but no Ringed Plovers or Tufted Ducks which was a shame. A bird we did see however was Common Crossbill in fact we saw 3, it took me nearly all year to see one in 2017 but this year 3 in the first week.
Golden PloverRedwing
Reed Bunting
Jan 6th
Today we did a walk from the Episcopalian church at Gruline to the Salmon Hatchery at Knock, it was a lovely day for a walk and we saw some good stuff. Firstly we came upon a small flock of Long tailed Tits, always amusing with their antics and balancing acts. As we reached the track down to the hatchery we heard and then spotted a Treecreeper climbing a tree looking for food, there was a horse close by covered in a bright orange blanket which it certainly needed to keep out the cold. At the hatchery the area was filled with Gulls at the sewage outfalls and we were lucky to find a first winter Glaucous Gull amongst all the other feeding Gulls, notice the the white wing tips which are the give away. On our way back home there were at least 12 Snipe at Dervaig, then it was home for a much needed late lunch.
Glaucous GullTurnstones
Beinne TaladhRock Pipit
Jan 5th
We had the Jay back in the garden today yet another returning bird so our garden species number are creeping back up to near normal as the resident Hooded Crow also put in an appearance. Todays walk, yes we are going on daily walks now to try and keep fit and to remove (Christmas excess), was at Calgary Bay where the views were beautifull and the small birds were enjoying flitting in and out of the seaweed on the shore looking for food. There were a lot of Rock Pipits, a Stonechat, Wren and Grey Wagtail and in the trees by the toilets I saw a single Goldcrest. The birds marked in bold are new ones for me this year on Mull.
Jay on tableSmall Isles
Volcanic dyke at CalgaryVolcanic Dyke Calgary
Stonechat at CalgaryCalgary Pier & Treshnish
Jan 4th
Since we have come home from visiting our children over the Christmas period the birds have steadily been returning to our garden feeders and yesterday it was the turn of the Brambling to re-appear, I was not very hopefull it would return so I was pleasantly supprised. On a walk to the nearby Loch I saw Wigeon, Goldeneye, Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew, all three of Mull's regular Gulls and a Grey Heron. This afternoon I went to Tobermory to fill the car up with fuel and to buy some more feed for the birds, I swear they eat better than us ,well it costs nearly as much to feed them as it does to feed ourselves but with Big Garden Birdwatch coming up later in the month it should be worth it. Please take part in The Big Garden Birdwatch, it is good fun and provides very good scientific data, check out the RSPB web-site.
Heron on seaweed
Jan 3rd
Today looked as if it was going to be a very quiet one wildlife watching wise, on my way into the garage to fill up the mini-van and give it a much needed wash I saw nothing but a couple of Hooded Crows, even the bird seed shop was closed. On my way back home I did manage a Greenshank, a Goosander and some Greylag Geese at Dervaig but no Snipe. Apart from a Buzzard and Shags an Oystercatcher,2 Rock Pipits and Hoodies again there was little at Cailaich in the afternoon apart from a few Gulls. The highlight of the day was at Calgary where there was a single Great Northern Diver and a beautiful Black Throated Diver which made the short trip from Ardrioch so worthwhile.
Jan 2nd
This morning it poured down with rain although after lunch it dried up enough for me to take Pam to see if the Glossy Ibis was still around as she missed out a couple of days ago. Fortunately just as we arrived at its favorite spot it flew in with 4 Greylag Geese and we got some very good view if a little distant, if you try to get close to this bird it spooks and readers know my views on disturbance, anyway, Pam has now seen the bird and I have it for my 2018 Mull bird list. Other birds seen were Wigeon, Greenshank and our regular over wintering whimbrel at Salen. Now we are back on Mull and feeding the birds again the garden is beginning to fill up, it never ceases to amaze me how quick the word gets around when we come back.
Glossy Ibis & GooseGreylag Geese marching
Jan 1st
New years Day birding on the Isle of Mull for the first time in years. The day started in pretty poor conditions with heavy rain and just 2 degrees but it improved after coffee break so we had a fantastic day out.
A total of 10 different Otters were seen all were solitary but we got some great views. Red and Fallow Deer were seen as were Common Seals but today was all about the birds. At the start of the day we saw an Iceland Gull at Killiechronan along with Common Gulls, Herring Gulls, Great Black-Backed Gulls and Black Headed Gulls. On the wader front, Turnstones, Curlews, Oystercatchers, Redshank and Bar-tailed Godwits were seen. Slavonian Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Red Breasted Merganser, Goosander, Mallard, Teal, Goldeneye, Shelduck, Cormorant and Shag were seen on the water. It was however the birds of prey that were the highlight of the day with a male Hen Harrier and Perigrine Falcon being the standouts although Golden Eagles were also seen well as were the White-tailed sea Eagles, Kestrel and of course Buzzards. In a total of 53 bird species seen other notable ones were Redwings, Barnacle Geese and several Woodcock seen on our way back home, a great start to our wildlife watching in 2018 on Mull.
Otter entering waterPeragrine Falcon
Shellduck flyingWTSE flying
December 2017
Dec 31st
We arrived home yesterday afternoon and I was out and about birding again today and thanks to my mate Mike Murphy managed to see the long staying Glossy Ibis bringing my 2017 Mull Bird List total to 143.
In the area where the Ibis is staying on Mull we also saw a Hare a mammal we don't often see on Mull so not a bad way to end the year. We are going New Years day birding tomorrow so look out for the first day of my 2018 blog and in the meantime Happy New Year to all my readers.
Glossy IbisHare
Dec 14th to 31st 
Robin Christmas message
Dec 11th to 13th
It is still very cold so I decided to just take photo's of the birds we see every day in our garden for you to look at if you stumble on our web site during the holiday period. As the weather is forcast to remain cold we have decided this will be our last post before Christmas. So we would both like to take this opportunity to wish all our friends, guests and blog readers a very Happy Christmas and New Year and look forward to blogging for you in the new year with my Mull birding news.
Rock Doves in the snowCoal Tit with Greenfinch

Collored DoveBlue Tit with seed
Chaffinches on the groundBrambling on feeder
Yellowhammer in the snowGoldfinch on feeder
Jay on the bird table
Siskin with GoldfinchGreat
Dunnock in snowHouse
Dec 10th
We risked life and limb going down to the Loch opposite Ardrioch today as it was so icy and enjoyed watching a very large dog Otter which was 200 yards away when we first spotted it but because we remained very quiet and camouflaged against a Gorse Bush it came within 20 feet of us on its way up the burn.
Ardrioch view after snowHooded Crow at top of tree
Dec 7th to 9th
The weather on Mull for the last few days has been more akin to Ice Age with snow and freezing temperatures so we have not been out birding but on the Ice Age theme a photo of some of Pam's cuddly toys to make you smile. I got her the Mammoth for her birthday a few days ago.
Dec 4th to 6th
Not a lot happening on Mull at the moment except in our garden where we have had a visit from a family of Long Tailed Tits. We are bracing ourselves for some wintry weather this weekend although as I write it is just wet and blustery. Pam is iceing the Christmas Cake and will be celebrating, if you can use that term, her birthday soon, no its not Chrismas day as I am not Santa. We were planning a day out to the South of the Island this week but the weather has put a stop to that so it will be just what's around the Dervaig area for the next few days. If we do have anything wildlife wise to report you will find it here or on Alan Spellman's Mullbirds site.
Dec 3rd
A morning out with Pam and we saw Red Deer and Fallow Deer including the one in the photograph below which took off as we stopped the car and I was just able to get this photo of a yearling stag. We saw 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles one of them having a real scrap with a Heron, not the one in the picture, believe me you would not look that chilled if you had just escaped White-tailed Eagle talons. 2 Golden Eagles were seen as they appeared off a hillside in their territory to see off a transgressing White-tail, this was the one that tangled with the Heron. On our way home we spotted an Otter and over the hill road back home a beautiful male Hen Harrier.
Fallow young stag deerHeron on a rock
Dec 2nd
Today after trying to find one all year Pam and I saw 3 Common Crossbills in the forestry plantation along the Glen Road between Dervaig and Salen.
Dec 1st
We had a dinner party tonight so no birding although while I was doing some work in the garden I did manage to see a Treecreeper climbing the tree by our garden gate.
Nov 30th

A major home refurbishment has started near Dervaig and it is still only November, yes our pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles have started to rebuild their nest in preparation for the 2018 breeding season, they are either being very pro-active or have an early 2018 holiday planned, either way it will be good for our self-caterers to have the Eagles so close. We went to Calgary yesterday and were very fortunate to see both Great Northern and Black Throated Divers in the bay. I counted 15 Greenfinches in the garden this morning and 10 Collared Doves, this is a record for Collared Doves a beautiful bird often given a hard time by garden birders but Pam and I are very pleased to have them.
November 2017
Nov 29th
A trip out this morning as the house feels empty as there is no dog to trip over, in the event nature and wildlife once again proved a panacea for me as I saw a total of 50 species of birds and mammals in beautiful Mull scenery in just 3 hours. Shortly after leaving home I was watching a Golden Eagle patrolling its hillside territory and watching it glide effortly down the valley gave me a sence of peace and wellbeing. The photo's I took today are of a Cormorant and a Shag, one of the questions I am most often asked on the tours is how to tell the difference between them and one way is Cormorants (left) have flat heads and Shags (right) steep forheads and this shows quite well in the two photographs.
Cormorant on postShag on post
Nov 28th
A sad day at Ardrioch today, Sally our Sheltie, unfortunately was riddled with cancer and had to be put to sleep. the vet told us that apart from discomfort going to the toilet she was otherwise fine and had not suffered, she had not lost her appetite and still had a lot of energy for her age, you would honestly not have known there was anything wrong with her which is why it has hit us so hard. The vet said the cancer was so bad she would not have lasted to Christmas, so that made us feel a little better for having to have her put to sleep. Below you will see a picture of Sally taken only in July for those of you readers that have seen Sally when either staying here or on one of our tours when we stopped here for comfort breaks or for afternoon tea in bad weather. Sally will be missed very much as she was such a friendly dog.
Sally in the garden
Nov 27th
Sally, our Shetland Sheep Dog (Sheltie) has been ill for couple of weeks now and we took her to the vets today for a scan which proved that she had a growth which needs fixing with an operation and we are hoping the growth is not cancerous.
Nov 26th
A morning out in nice weather and we had a cracking time, we saw 2 Otters, 4 White-tailed sea Eagles, several Red Deer and the 2 Fallow Deer stags shown in the photo below, the one antlered one is a spotted Fallow Deer the other a dark phased one it was just nice to see both of them. One of the Otters was eating a rather large fish which it finished just before being disturbed by a creeling boat, the early Otter gets the catch. Waders and Ducks there were aplenty, we have never seen so many Mallards on Mull as there is at the moment and they have been joined in good numbers by Wigeon and Teal. All the usual Mull Waders were seen but the highlight was a flock of Golden Plover that flew in to the flats at Killiechronan as the tide receeded.
Fallow Deer stag darkFallow Deer stag 1 horned
Golden Plover
Otter eatingMallard & Widgeon
Nov 25th
Today it was perishingly cold and after a short trip to Calgary Bay we decided that discretion was the better part than valour so Pam wrote the Christmas cards , yes it is that time again and I helped by watching the Rugby on the TV. At Calgary there was little about, too cold, although a Common Seal kept bottleing, probably trying to catch some rays, good luck with that. Then we heard Ravens always a good sound as it alerts you to possible goings on and in this case it was a very brave Sparrowhawk having a real go at a Raven. As the action played out a Common Buzzard probably bored, joined in, we could not tell which side it was on but between them they put on a good show which helped us forget how cold it was, if only for a short time.
Nov 24th
A busy day today around the house as there was snow on the ground so I had to content myself with garden birding and by a quarte to nine I had seen the Brambling, Siskin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Buzzard, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Collared Doves, Blackbirds and a Robin, not bad for first light. At 10am the Dunnocks, House Sparrows and Rock Doves put in an appearance, that is all the regulars although Pam has seen the Treecreeper a couple of times recently. Chaffinch numbers by 10am well exceed 100 birds, can't wait to put this into the big garden bird count where our record is 160 and they did not believe that.  
Nov 23rd
The highlight of today were 4 Whooper Swans which flew over our heads at Dervaig as we were watching some Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Little Grebe and Goosander in the bay. We were heading into Tobermory to visit the tooth fairy, dentist to most of you and to buy a new mop stale as my heavy handed wife had broken the previous one, now you know why I do as I am told, (only joking my love.) On our way home we saw a beautiful male Goldeneye on the Mishnish Lochs just enjoying the peace and quiet, then on Loch Torr 2 Female Goldeneyes dashing about diving, fishing, is there a moral in there somewhere. We had a great view of a Buzzard on a post with a Kestrel on a telephone wire just above it, gorgeous.
Nov 22nd
The rain stopped so I took the chance of a drive round the block this morning and I had a great sighting of a pair of Golden Eagles flying very low towards me and dissappeared behind a knoll, I thought they might reappear but to no avail although it was still a fabulous view. I was about to leave when I spotted a distant bird it looked Crow like but I was not convinced and when it came down below the skyline I realised it was a male Hen Harrier and again I had fabulous views of one of my favorite birds as it hawked over the hillside, still some distace away but still breathtaking. Other notable sightings 2 Red Deer, 2 Common seals and lots of Great Northern Divers.
A blog for Blake and Sheila and hope it makes you all smile.
'Down Came The Rain It Happened Again' (Mitch Murray), for two days 'Raindrops Kept Falling On My Head' (B J Thomas) at his rate we thought 'It Might As Well Rain Until September' (Carol King), see where I am going with this blog. When I am in a good mood I am 'Singing In The Rain' (Doris Travis), although when I'm down its more of a 'Purple Rain' (Prince), anyway whatever my mood it's certainly 'November Rain' (Guns and Roses). Oh, Oh, 'Here Comes The Rain Again' (Eurythmics), and we don't know 'Who'll Stop The Rain' (Credence Clearwater Revival), anyway for now 'Let It Rain' (Eric Clapton). It's certaily no good living on Mull if you 'Can't Stand The Rain' (Tina Turner) unless you are 'Only Happy When It Rains' (Garbage) because the one thing you can be sure of 'A Hard Rains Going To Fall' (Bob Dylan) so there is no point in saying ' Why Does It Always Rain On Me' (Travis). One thing is for certain come Spring there could be 'One More Rainy Day' (Deep Purple), then like this Spring 'No More Rain' (Kylie Minogue) and then we would all be saying 'I wish It Would Rain' (The Temptations). Some Photo's below of Water which is rather plentiful on Mull right now, Loch Cuin and Eas Force.
Loch Cuin from the bridgeLoch Cuin reed beds
Eas Force top fallsEas Force lower falls
Nov 19th
Egrets, now Pam's seen two, yes we went down to Fishnish today and guess what there was no Egret to be seen so off we trecked down the coast looking for it to no avail. At Garmony we did see a lovely Stonechat and an equally nice but less glamorous Robin. On our way back I suggested we go back to Fishnish on the off chance, low and behold there it was in exactly the same place I had seen it a couple of days ago, I was very pleased for Pam, I hope I scored a few brownie points for this one (no pun intended) On our way back home we  saw 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles on a rock by the shore, 3 Bar Tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Curlews, Wigeon, a very close Great Northern Diver, Red Breasted Mergansers and a really smart male Goosander to end a lovely and successful morning.
Nov 18th
A cold windy day but dry so I went with Pam to Cailaich and we watched a pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles talon grasping, it was an impressive sight until 2 Ravens flew in and broke up the courtship display. Not content with iterupting the lovebirds one of the Ravens continued to harrass the younger Eagle although on several occasions it did take liberties getting very close to the Eagles very large talons. It was an incredible watch and well worth getting out for. As always at Cailaich the views were spectacular and the Highland Cows in the rocks by the shore were extremely photogenic, so on Pam's instructions I obliged even if I could hardly hold the camera still in the wind.
Highland Cattle at CailaichHighland Cow black
Nov 17th
Egrets, I've now seen two, yes after a few abortive attempts I have at last caught up with our long staying Little Egret at Fishnish and have photo's to prove it, bird number 141 for my Mull year list. It was nearly a disasterous day however as I left my binoculars in the hide as I went to get my camera from the car to photograph the bird and forgot all about them as I started for home. Fortunately something jogged my memory before I had gone too far and I went back to retrieve them and guess what they were right where I had left them, nearly another fine mess I had nearly got into, no change there then.
Little EgretLitle Egret 2
Nov 16th
Today the Jay was back in the garden along with the zillion Chaffinches and Goldfinches, try picking the single Brambling out of that lot. The Wind blew high and the wind blew low and the leaves they all fell to the ground and there they stayed until I got out my trusty rake and wheelbarrow and removed them. Then the wind blew some and more leaves appeared on the ground and I thought someome is trying to tell me something, so I left them where they had fallen. no dout in a few days Pam will start complaining and out will come the trusty rake and Wheelbarrow.... Again.
Nov 15th
We always love a trip to Dougies, our local store, to stock up on goodies and a chat with the locals, but better still is the wildlife watching at the end of the loch on the way home. Greenshank, Snipe, Curlew and Little Grebe, all the usuals, but a special treet today a mother Otter was trying to curl up for a sleep on a rock and her tiny, weeny cub was trying to climb up onto the rock to join her but was too small and kept slipping down to the bottom, after straining, heaving and complaining it appeared on top  and started to climb all over the resting mum eventually managing to sneek a quick suckle of milk from her. I thought it was quite funny but for Pam it was a real AHhhh moment. To complete the wildlife entertainment on returning home a Sparrowhawk flew up from our garden and gave us a great show of flap, flap, gluiding as it was being mobbed by Chaffinches. Beats a visit to a big supermarket any day.
Nov 14th
I spent the morning out and about and saw a total of 5 seperate Otters none of which were close enough to photograph. White-tailed Sea Eagles were resting up after a busy breeding season, they will soon be turning their attention to nest building for next year. Red Deer relaxing after the rut and in the case of the stags feeding up for the Winter. I counted over 10 Slavonian Grebes on Loch Na Keal, twice as many more Great Northern Divers, 6 Bar Tailed Godwits at Killiechronan and too many Red Breasted Mergansers to count. In a stream near the Beinn More parking spot was a Dipper feeding and I was able to watch it for some time without either it or myself being disturbed, fantastic.
                                  DiverRed breasted Merganzer
Misy risingTeal
Nov 13th
A wet day just for a change so I did my birding from the kitchen window and amongst the highlights were a Jay, a Brambling and the Great Spotted woodpecker below.
GS Woodpecker on nuts
 Nov 9th to 12th
Although I have been out and about briefly during the last few days I have still not been at my best so I have just taken a few photos of some of the birds I have seen. As always most of my photos are pretty useless and this included the ones of the Gadwall we saw on Loch Na Keal yesterday, I only mention this as it was my first Gadwall of the year taking my Mull year list to 140 species. Thanks to Jac and Mike for a nice day out yesterday, I have now thawed out. I would also like to thank our neighbours, they know who they are for tightening a nut and keeping the water flowing when we were away. I hope you enjoy the photos as today we are battening down the hatches as we are expecting more gales and yet more rain, I will keep you informed.
Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush &
Curlews at restRedshank
Golden Eagle flyingGN Diver evening roost
Nov 9th
A count of 30 Goldfinches in the garden this morning an all time record count for the Ardrioch garden.
Goldfinches at feeder
Nov 8th
A day at home still feeling rough although 3 yellowhammers and a Siskin in the garden brightened my day.
Nov 7th
I had to go to Tobermory today to get a new battery for our car key fob and on the way back saw 2 Whooper Swans on Loch Torr.
Common Seal & GullWhooper Swan
Nov 6th
I am under the weather at the moment after coming back from Cheshire so only out for short periods of time for essentials but a neccessary trip to Salen this morning saw me watching an Otter and a Common Seal so the day was not wasted.
Nov 5th
We are back after a month away visiting family and a weeks holiday in Dorset, near Arne. When we were at the Arne RSPB reserve we saw a Great White Egret imagine our surprise when we saw one at Dervaig on our return, a first for Mull I think. This morning my eagle eyed wife, Pam saw a Brambling amongst the Chaffinches in our garden and called me as it was a first for me this year. There have been a pair of Whooper Swans on the Mishnish Lochs this week which we saw when taking our dog , Sally to the vets with a stomach problem. I know how she feels as I have picked up a bug which is going round Dervaig which prevents me from travelling to far from home. The blog is now back in business until our next trip away.
Great White EgretGreat White Egret flying
Brambling maleBrambling & Chaffinch

Blog July
This is the web site of Pam & Arthur Brown, Ardrioch Farm, Dervaig, Isle of Mull. PA75  6QR
          Pam & Arthur Brown
          Ardrioch Farm, Dervaig
          Isle of Mull
          Argyll, PA75 6QR
01688 400415
07780 600367
car parking and passing places
1.     Do not park in passing places – It is an offence and you could be fined. 
2.     Allow overtaking, (use your rear view mirrors) – it is illegal not to let a faster vehicle past you within 4 passing places or when it is safe to do so.
3.   When meeting on coming traffic always pull into the left, When the passing place is on your right, stop opposite the passing place and let the on-coming vehicle use the passing place to go round you. Going into passing places on your right may cause an accident.
4.    If you have just passed a passing place, reverse back into the passing place and then the vehicle coming towards you can pass safely. Avoid going off onto the verges at it can ruin the road edges and verges which then cost a lot to maintain and could seriously damage your vehicle.
5.  Remember not all road users are on holiday many are going about their daily business and that speeding vehicle could be a doctor or vet going to an emergency.
dog walking and sheep
1. When walking on the hills keep dogs on a lead particularly between March to June which is the peak lambing period. Sheep run away from strange dogs even if they don’t chase them and lambs can lose their mothers in this way and become more vulnerable to predation.
2. Avoid going near cattle with calves as mothers are very protective of their young and will often attack strange dogs.
3. Do not to let your dogs disturb wildlife, particularly ground nesting birds. It is an offence not to control your dog.
4. From August, to October first check whether Deer stalking is operating on any hills on the day you intend to walk them.
5. Do not pick up lambs that you think are injured or lost – please report it to the nearest farmer you see and they will take care of it, in most cases mothers are able to find their own lambs.
wildlife photography guidance
Photographers are now one of the main causes of wildlife disturbance on Mull. Knowingly disturbing wildlife is an offence against the wildlife and country act and ignorance of the act is not an acceptable excuse.
We encourage photographers and  many join us on our tours, we do however promote good use of field craft and keep disturbance to an absolute minimum. 
Digi-scoping is used for most of the pictures that we post on our web site as this allows us to take photographs at a distance and does not disturb the wildlife.
A government issued license is required to get close to eagles and other protected birds and wildlife.
Please practise the Countryside code and then you and your dogs can enjoy everything Mull has to offer in complete harmony with landowners, farmer’s animals and wildlife