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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.
Self-catering Special Offer in
The Sheiling for 2 people
Week 21st July, 4th & 11th August £300 per week
 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
July 2018
July 20th
Regarding the Sparrowhawk and Chaffinches in our garden, I counted over 100 Chaffinches in our garden this morning so either we are going to have a very fat Sparrowhawk or our Chaffinches are doing OK. In case you are worried I am fairly sure it will be the latter.
Chaffinches in garden
July 19th
Todays tour was a delight for me as my guests were brilliant, keen good spotters and interested in anything Mull had to offer. This was probably very wise as apart from Buzzards, Kestrels, White-tailed sea Eagles and a Golden Eagle sitting on a hill a long way away the big stuff was not in to much abundance. Yes, we had very good Red Deer including stags and of course lots of Common Seals but it was the wonderful views and small birds that stole the show. Whinchat, Stonechat, Meadow Pipits, Common Sandpipers, Redshank and Greenshank were all seen well although the perishing little singing Whitethroat remained hidden in its treehouse. Pam saw a Sparrowhawk take a Chaffinch from the garden today and was a little worried about their numbers, I will update you on this problem tomorrow. Today I have to thank Pam for putting up with me as it is our 45th wedding aniversary.
WTSE flying
July 18th
Sometimes life plays tricks on us and today as we did not have a tour I took Lucy for a walk across the road to the Loch, a distance of less than half a mile and what was there, an Otter, that's what. I have been looking everywhere for Otter this week for my guests without success and where do I see one almost at home when I have no guests, ah well at least I know they still exist. It was nice to sit quietly and watch the Otter from a safe none disturbing distanc with Lucy at my feet. We saw a Goosander with ducklings, Curlews, Oystercatchers, Herring and Common Gulls and Greylag Geese during a very pleasant hour Otter watching. Our neighbouring farmer has now replaced her sheep for 8 yearling cattle as the grass got too long for the sheep, it makes a nice change and reminds me a little of my previous career.
Otter on seaweedOystercatcher on seaweed
LucyLucy standing
Common Gull on Lichen rockRed cows in our field
July 17th
Sometimes my guests make my day as much as the wildlife and today was no exception as they were so appreciative of everything we saw and not just the big stuff which pleases me no end as it shows that they have an empathy for all that is wild and free. Yes we had the usual big stuff but it was Common Sandpipers, Curlews, Greylag Geese, Kittiwakes and even a lowly Dunnock that got their seal of approval. Mull was again at its magnificent best with views to die for and we went to places where the pace of modern life can be completey forgotten. The picture of the Kestrel is not great even by my poor standards but it was the only photo I took today and I thought it was better than nothing, but having seen it probably not???
Kestral fuzzzyGreylag Geese at Croig
July 16th
The day started well when after a special request we went to look for and found a Short-eared Owl, it was hunting over meadows with grazing cattle for quite some time. Buzzards were everywhere today, I think many of the young ones have now fledged as they are calling to be fed all the time. A number of White-tail Eagles were seen and later on in the afternoon we followed one as it flew into a Golden Eagle territory, suddenly it swooped down out of sight behind a hill and disturbed a Golden Eagle which  flew around until the White-tail Eagle got back up and flew away it gave us a good comparisen of the 2 birds. Another Cuckoo was seen today as well as Kestel, Linnet, Swallows and House Martins.
July 15th
Given that we live on Mull even when having a great Summer weatherwise it does not come as too much of a shock if we get a bad day and today it was it. Yes we needed the rain but did it have to come with really low cloud, making wildlife watching difficult and for Golden Eagles impossible. We made up for it however with lots of Common Seals with pups, a couple of Grey Seals, Fallow Deer and a Red Deer with her new calf. White-tailed sea Eagles were seen well as were Sparrowhawk, Buzzards and Kestrels with a possible Peregrine sighting by one of my guests and at our 2nd last stop a female Hen Harrier showed well. Little birds seen were Reed Bunting, Linnet, Rock Pipit, Wheatear, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Grey Wagtail. Waders seen were Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper and of course Oystercatchers. All 5 of Mull's main Gulls were seen and both Red Breasted Mergansers and Goosander with young. So as you can tell from this blog even the bad times are good, one from the Tremeloes for Blake I managed to get in there, more tomorrow.
Reed Bunting on wire
July 14th
A day at home but I could not stop myself doing a bit of bird watching as birds that have now bred are appearing in the garden with their new offspring. Blackbirds that have used our large shed to breed in seem to have done particularly well as we have at least 6 young Blackbirds in the garden. Young Robins have also started arriving as have the new Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Siskins remain in good numbers and Great and Blue Tits have returned with young although we are still waiting for the Coal Tits. The Swallows seem to have dispersed but they have been replaced by Pied Wagtails and it is nice to see that the Yellowhammers have also bred successfully. One animal that has been prolific in our garden this year has been Rabbits, we have zillions and now Buzzards are hovering over the garden, I live in hope.
Greenfinches with ChaffinchCollored Dove
House Sparrow
July 13th
Golden and White-tailed Eagles were again to the fore today and we saw so many Red Deer there were too many to count includig stags and calves
. There are more Common Seal calves appearing now and we saw another Hare but still Otters remain illusive. We did however a a very good addition to todays tour, Dolphins, this is a rare occurance on Discover Mull tours so it provided guests with something special to remember from their day out. Goosander with young and a Shelduck with a well grown youngster were also well worth seeing as were the 6 or was it 7 Redshanks and a very good Greenshank sighting. The views today were again stunning and my guest enjoyed their day very much and praised Pam's baking skills and super soup.
July 12th
A dreich day brightened by the sight of 3 Hares in a field not long after our first stop. 3 of my guests were desperate to see an Otter but I am afraid they were to be dissapointed and had to put up with Common Seals with pups, Red Deer with calves and Highland Cows with calves as well. We saw 3 Golden Eagles, 3 White-tailed Sea Eagles and lots of Buzzards as usual. Red Throated Divers at Calgary were a good sighting for me as was the male Hen Harrier on our way home so only one of my guests, Julip from Barcelona, a delightful young lady saw it. I took the photo of the harebells on the bridge as I pass them on most tours and I just find that they brighten up my day.
HaresHarebells on wall
Highland Cow & calfRed deer & calf
July 11th
We were very lucky with the weather today as they forecast rain all day and we didn't get a drop even though Arthur has been doing a rain dance since we got back from our holiday, just shows not to believe the forecast on Mull. The White-tail Sea Eagles put on another grand show today but it was mostly a day for small birds especially small raptors with Kestrels, Sparrowhawk and Merlin seen. Grey Wagtails, Goldfinch, Siskins, Swallows, Pied Wagtails, Wheatear and Stonechat all franticly feeding and the star of the little birds was a baby Robin who decided to take a look inside the bus whilst we were all visiting the loo. Sorry I didn't get a photo. Both Red Deer and Common Seal with there young were seen well but our Buzzard chicks have now fledged their nest and could be heard calling from the trees but not seen.
July 10th
The conditions were similar to yesterday and we were treated to a similar day wildlife wise minus the Otter. Red Deer stags at the start of the day got everyone in the right mood and this was followed soon after by a White-tailed Sea Eagle on a regular haunt improved their spirits even more. Red Breasted Merganser with water running babies made my guests chuckle before we got the first of many Common Seals with this years pups. The juvenile Cuckoo was again on the same post as yesterday and again delighted our guests, I wish I could tie it to the post but it must fly south soon, but not too soon I hope. Lots more White-tailed Eagle were seen although it was the great sighting of a Golden Eagle at afternoon tea that was the Eagle of the day. Fallow Deer were seen again and we had a flying Goosander which helped guests distinguish the difference between them and Mergansers, another notable sighting was a Black Guilliemot seen at lunch time. Thanks to all my guests who were delightful and made for a great day out.
July 9th
I think the wildlife must have missed us while we were away as we had 8 White-tailed Sea Eagles, 4 Golden Eagles, 2 brief Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels and more Buzzards than I could keep count of. On the mammal front we saw a lovely small dark Fallow Deer stag and numerous Red Deer including this years calves. Both types of Seal including the Common Seal in the picture below which was more visible than any we saw in the Arctic. The other main highlights of the day were a Red Breasted Merganser with ducklings and the young Cuckoo in the picture below which was catching its own food so it will soon be on its way south to visit Africa for the first time. Many thanks to Selwyn and Stella for the information of its wearabouts or we would probably have missed it. Magic Mull at its best.
Common SealCuckoo baby
Calgary BeachBuzzard hovering

July 8th
We are back and business as usual with our first tour tomorrow.
We had a great time in the high Arctic reaching just 600 miles from the North Pole and Pam, the nutcase that she is, did a Polar Dip.
Pam & Elaine Polar Plunge
June 2018
June 23rd to July 7th
As we will be away there will be no tours or blog but we will be leaving Lucy, the house and self-catering cottages in our friends Pete and Jenny Latham's capable hands. If you wish for any information about future tours or the self-catering accommodation do not hesitate to give them a call on 01688 400415 and they will be happy to help. In the meantime some photos taken on a recent tour or in our garden in the last few days.
RabbitLucy looking at Rabbit
Red Deer with sheep ArdriochView from Ardrioch across Loch
                                  Cuin
RedpollBlackbird baby
Yellowhammer
June 22nd
The last tour for a fortnight as we are off looking for Polar Bears, amongst other creatures, on an Ice breaker ship in the far north. Today the tour was hard work as the wildlife was taking a day off with no Golden Eagles or Otters seen, which goes to show that it is wildlife and as such is not always putting in an appearance as we are not a zoo. White-tailed Eagles were seen well as were Red Deer but once again it was the Hen Harrier that stole the show, what a shame that this iconic bird is being so persecuted in Britain, it is no supprise that it is only flurishing in areas where there are no grouse moors, there traditional habitat. The fact that the owners of these moorlands and their game keepers cannot explain why this is the case is remarkable, saying it has nothing to do with them and now they are killing Mountain Hares in there hundreds, the traditional food of Golden Eagles, they will certainly be wanting rid of them next and all in the name of shooting Gouse.
Hen Harrier with WTSECommon Sandpiper
Oystercatcher with chicksRinged Plover
June 21st
A wonderful day for rapters today with White-tail Eagles seen sitting, flying, 4 in the sky together at one time, and chick in the nest with an adult. Golden Eagles were also seen flying and sitting and the day ended with this fabulous female Hen Harrier flying right over our heads, a special moment for one of my guests who really wanted to see Hen Harrier. It may not have been as exciting as Arthurs 20 minutes yesterday but the sightings were spread out through out the day which was nice. Eider Ducks with duckings, a Goosander on the river and Stonechat on a wire were amongst other enjoyable sighting for the day.
Hen Harrier female flying
June 20th
Today we saw all Mulls Specialities and more but it was the 20 minutes at our Hen Harrier stop which will stay with me for a long time. As we arrived a guest saw I big bird flying, so we all got out of the bus very quickly as it was a White-tailed Sea Eagle, the one in the photo below. It was being mobbed by a female Hen Harrier and this carried on for about 5 minutes before a Raven joined the fun and the Eagle flew off leaving us with a very triumphant Hen harrier rising on the thermols and calling, probably to her chicks. It was then that a Golden Eagle flew through, this one was a juvenile with its white tail and white under wing bars, it was being mobbed by a Buzzard giving us great size comparrison, they hung around for another fiove minutes before going up high in the clouds. I have been doing this job for 17 years and this was one of the most spectacular sightings I have ever had. God bless Mull and the birds that fly over her.
WTSE flying
June 19th
The rain stayed away till the end of today's tour and the wildlife appreciated this as much as we did and performed admirably. There was a White-tailed Sea Eagle in a tree by the nest and we could just make out the chicks replete after an early breakfast. We saw at least 3 more White-tailed Sea Eagles flying during the day. Redshank and Common Sandpiper were seen before we had a fantastic sighting of a Hen Harrier which flew past us as we were looking for none existent Adders. Whitethroat was seen after singing its little head off competing with the more melodious Willow Warblers. We had a spectacular view of a  Kestrel from a high vantage point which flew below us mobbing a hapless Buzzard. Buzzards were everywhere but I was grateful to the one mobbing the Golden Eagle and giving my guests very good size comparison proving that all the Buzzards we had seen, and there were lots of them, were indeed not Golden Eagles, we only saw one of them. We saw 2 Red Throated Divers and I did get a distant photo to prove we had seen them, don't look for the second one it's not in the photo. We had a fabulous Otter sighting which we watched as we drank afternoon tea. We finished the day at the high waterfall in Aros Park and I took some Photos of a Bracket Fungi, the waterfall itself and a baby fledged Dipper.
Red throated DiverBracket Fungi
Aros Park WaterfallsDipper on rock
June 18th
Very windy and showery today and another difficult day for finding the wildlife but in the end we managed to see all Mull's special species including a close female Hen Harrier at the end of the day and we found our first Red Deer calf of the year hiding in the bracken. The Buzzard chicks on the nest contine to delight our guests, they are grownig well now and the largest chick is showing adult plumage including the distinctive 'chain of office' as we call the white band around it's front, mum & dad are continually flying to and fro with food for the growing chicks and only stay long enought on the nest to drop the food before flying off to fetch more. For all mulls small birds and mammals its a case of watch out watch out there's a Buzzard about.
June 17th
Another fantastic tour for all Mulls special species, Hen Harrier prey passing at one of the early stops and this was after the White-tailed Sea Eagle had been seen near the nest. We missed out again on Adder but there were 2 Toads there instead, check out the photo below. On our way back to the bus two White-tailed Sea Eagles flew over our heads and getting up yet another Hen Harrier, it was a great sighting. Also at this stop were 3 Lesser Redpoll and a Reed Bunting. Lapwing, Buzzards, Red Deer and Eider Duck with ducklings followed, then a lovely view of House Martins flying around and landing on mud , photo below. Fallow Deer, Common Seal and Grey Seal and 2 fantastic Golden Eagles were to come next and this was after 4 Great Northern Divers in Salen Bay. A very good Otter and a brief Snipe and of course the Buzzard chicks on their nest and then lunch. Gannet, Kittiwakes and a Blck Guilliemot were the highlights of the afternoon, then it started to rain so an early end to a fantastic tour, thanks to all my guests who once again made the day special.
ToadHouse Martin collecting mud
June 16th
A very wet morning and Pam cleaned the self-catering cottages and was pleased to get all the washing dry on the Aga. In the afternoon as the weather had improved she went sea swimming which I must admit she loves doing so she was really happy. I had a day off watching the cricket and football on the television so I was really happy as well.
June 15th
A similar day to yesterday although there was less rain and the high winds were a strong breeze. mammals were all seen well today that is all except Otter which we missed as we were looking for and finding a Snipe which was a first for some of my guests. Another highlight today was a Cuckoo which gave very good views sitting on telephone wires and then flying right past us, another first for some guests. We saw both types of Eagle but the Hen Harrier at the end of the day stole the show today with an excellent flying display. On my way home I took this photo of a Little Grebe on the Mishnish Lochs, not a great picture but I think you can just about make out what it is.
Little Grebe Mishnish
June 14th
Today started very wet with almost gale force winds and four of our guests failed to show up, now it is a free country and that is their perogative but to not turn up without informing us is just rude not just because we had catered for them, we also waited 20 minutes for them which is not fair on the guests who did turn up. We take our bookings on trust and will continue to do so as it is only a few people who have no manners. Just in case you are wondering what sort of tour we had today, Red Deer, both types of Seal and 2 seperate Otters were seen whilst it was still raining as was a probable Black Tern, on Loch Na Keal a very rare bird for Mull and probably only there because of the gales. After the rain stopped although it was still very windy A white-tailed Sea Eagle flew right over the top of the bus giving guests great views and a fabulous Golden Eagle flew very close below us so we could really see all the flecks of colour on its back and wings and 3 Hen Harriers to end a very special day. The guests who turned up were really up for a great day and we and the wildlife gave them one. The Woodpeckers are now bringing their young to feed in the garden.
Woodpecker on nuts
June 13th
Today we hosted our Marie Curie fund rasing event at our home and £1000 was raised for them on the day. Our house was full of people chattering, friends, holiday makers and 3 representatives from Marie Curie including a lady all the way from London HQ. Our thanks to all who came along and supported us and special thanks to all who baked delicious cakes and or donated prizes for the tombola and to Cheryl, Janet and Moria for all their hard work and not forgetting Sarah, our lovely Marie Curie nurse (left in picture).
Marie Curie Fund raising event
June 12th
Just occasionally you get an almost perfect tour and today was my day. It started with Wheatear at our first stop and 3 Hen Harriers at our last and in between well you had to see it yo believe it. Short Eared Owl at a stop I have not seen Short Eared Owl in before, we also had Lapwing and Whinchat here. My guests of course wanted Otter but at coffee we saw Herons, flying Red Breasted Mergansers, Common and Grey Seal and a long distance White-tailed Sea Eagle. We had already seen Red Deer but an amazing spot by one of my guests and we got Fallow Deer as Well. We went and found a much closer White-tailed Sea Eagle and a Sedge Warbler and as I was scanning for the Slavonian Grebe which we did not see I picked up a distant Otter which we watched getting closer and closer for over half an hour until it hauled itself out onto a nearby seaweed rock, I could do no wrong today. At lunch the Buzzard chicks performed brilliantly prompting a guest to say it was like Springwatch for real. We also had a great view of a Meadow Pipit , Ravens, and a spectacular interaction between a Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon. In the afternoon it was Golden Eagle that stole the show but not before a Cuckoo and Stonechat had been seen well. the day ended with the Three Hen Harriers and a brief view of a flying Whitethroat, not a bad little outing. However there is no such thing as a perfect day the Adder was a no show. On a brighter note we have a Spotted Flycatcher in our garden a first for Ardrioch.
June 11th
Pam did the tour today and had what she called an Eagle fest with White-tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles seen well, this was a good job as her guests particularly wanted to see Eagles and particularly Sea Eagles, (see what I did there). David a regular in our self-catering has been getting twitchy as he had not seen the local Spotted Flycatcher but today he did on our garden fence for over an hour catching insects to take back to the nesting female, to put it mildly he was right chuffed. I bought a new toy for Lucy to run and fetch and Pam said  all she did was chew it. I beg to differ check out the photos below. That's my girl erm dog, nice one Lucy, any chance of brownie points Pam.
Lucy holds throw toyLucy running with toy
Marie Curie eventJune 10th
A tour again today and this time it was Golden Eagles and Otters to the fore with 3 of each species seen really well with one of the Golden Eagles being exceptional, it flew in being mobbed by a Buzzard and then landed in full view giving our guests great views of its golden head and gold flecked plumage. White-tailed Eagles were seen but most of my guests missed the flying one in spite of its great size. Other notable sightings today were a Slavonian Grebe in full breeding plumage and the Glaucous Gull again in Tobermory Harbour.
June 9th
I could not go birding today, for at home I had to stay,
we have a coffee morning on Wednesday, so I was cleaning windows.
The cause is the Marie Curie Nurse, guests will come with pounds in purse,
so I really should not curse, when I'm cleaning windows.
With windows cleaned our guests will see, to the Loch over the trees,
and our garden birds and bees, after I've cleaned windows.
Pam, well she has had to bake, she has made her  lemon drizzle cake,
for our guests to partake, while me, I'm cleaning windows.

June 8th
Prey passing Hen Harrier, Adder, White-tailed Sea Eagle and chicks, Lesser Redpoll and Siskins with 2 Red Throated Divers at coffee break. Cuckoos, Skylarks, Kestrel, Buzzards and Stonechat and all before lunch. Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Common and Grey Seals, Wheatear, Linnet and more White-tailed Sea Eagles. To end the day a Glaucous Gull in Tobermory Harbour. What more could you want on a day out on Mull, Golden Eagle and Otter, that's what. We missed the Golden Eagle because we were watching the Fallow Deer, we missed the Otter because we were trying to locate the Golden Eagle, dissapointing, yes, but it is this that makes wildlife watching so facinating, it is wildlife and you can't get what you want all the time or it would become boring. A prey passing Hen Harrier some birders go through their lives witout seeing. Guests are delighted to see a Cuckoo and Lesser Redpoll and as for a Glaucous Gull on Mull in June, that's just rediculous. You will have other chances to see Otter and Golden Eagle but probably not a prey passing Hen Harrier or a Glaucous Gull in June.
Glaucous Gull with Herring Gull
                                  behind
June 7th
A great start to the day with both male & female Hen Harriers hunting and feeding chicks on the ground, this was followed by Adder and White-tail Eagle chicks in the nest. (so far this sounds just like Arthurs day yesterday)  Again, like Arthur, we had 2 Golden Eagles flying but this time they were distant, after looking at a few small birds, Skylark, Meadow Pipit & Whinchat we turned and there were 2 very close Golden Eagles behind us being harrased by 2 Hooded Crows, they stayed close for 10 or 15 minutes giving us great views. More Eagles were seen in the afternoon along with Red Deer and Seals but unfortunatly the Otter remained absent today.
June 6th
Today was just amazing, we pulled up at our first stop and saw a White-tailed Sea Eagle on her nest with her chicks, then on to a Hen Harrier spot and there she was hunting before landing where we could all see her well through the scope. Next stop Adder and there it was a little dozy so early in the day so it stopped around for photo's. After coffee break 4 Red Throated divers and a Great Northern Diver, these were shortly followed by Whinchat and a Cuckoo both giving great views. Next the sighting of the day with 2 Golden Eagles flying down a valley givind us superb views of their golden heads and gold flecked upper wings it was my best Goldie sighting of the year. On we went for lunch and the Buzzard chicks were showing well on the nest and also here my Linnet family turned up as usual, check photo below. In the afternoon we saw Red Deer and Common Seals and more White-tailed Sea Eagles both sitting and flying. The highlight of the afternoon for my guests was the Otter that we watched fishing for half an hour, in fact we took the oportunity to have afternoon tea and cake. By now my guests were thrilled but tired so like Zebedee I said 'time for bed'.
Linnet on wire
June 5th
It was a day with low cloud and sea mist but what a great day we had with Mull's special species with a fantastic sighting of a female Hen Harrier to start the day, it was seen hunting and then landed where all my guests got to see this iconic bird in all its glory on an island where it is free from the disgracefull persecution it suffers in most of the UK. We had 5 Otter sightings today although I suspect there were only 3 Otters, one seen three times although I might be wrong. White-tailed Eagles sitting and flying with no feeding boat in sight, also chicks on a nest. We also had Buzzard chicks on a nest a lot of Buzzards. We had to wait till the end of the day for Golden Eagles because of the mist but like buses two came along together. Red and Fallow Deer were seen as were Common and Grey Seals and quite a few other birds including my Linnets, so all in all a good day was had by all.
June 4th
I stayed home today strimming although I did take a photograph of the lovely Lesser Redpoll on one of our Niger Seed feeders by the flowering Rowen. Pam taking over writing and we had an Eagle day today with either Golden or White-tail being seen at almost every stop, once at the same time. One of my guests was desperate for an Otter which can really put the preasure on us guides, luckily I eventually found one where we don't normally see them but it was quite a distant view. Lots of lovely small birds seen again today as they are all busy feeding their young in the nests.
Redpoll with flowering Rowen
June 3rd
The promised rain did not appear but I have to say the wildlife today did not dissapoint, we went looking for Hen Harrier and it duly appeared with a Kestrel and Buzzard. Whinchat and adder were seen at the next stop followed by a White-tailed Sea Eagle and Red Deer. We stopped to look for a dipper and saw a Grey Wagtail, followed by 3 male Eider Ducks and a Shag. On we went and saw both types of Seal, fallow Deer and an Otter. At lunch we had the Buzzard chicks on the nest with a parent and my cup runneth over with 4, yes four Linnets. At afternoon tea a White-tailed Eagle flew past us and the Golden Eagle got up to see it off giving great interaction between these two iconic birds. 56 birds seen today including the Reed Bunting in the photo, there were also Eight mammals seen as we saw Porpoise to end a super day on the magical Isle of Mull.
Reedbunting on reedsBuzzard flying
June 2nd
Lawn mowing and other chores today including washing the mini-bus, this was a red letter day for the bus as I can't remember when I last gave it a bath, for guests who have been out with us this year I have discovered the van is still blue. The frog in the photo below popped out as I was mowing the lawn, it was such a bright coloured one I had to get it to pose for me, the Swallow is one of the pair nesting in our shed. Pam continues to swim in the sea but at least the water has warmed up a little and apparently is quite refreshing after the seriously hot weather we are having at the moment, according to the weather forecast we might get our own thunderstorms tomorrow, I hope it is after the tour.
Frog in our gardenSwallow on line
June 1st
Another hot humid day in which we saw plenty of Eagles both White-tailed and Golden, but no Otters, Pam had them all yesterday. We saw lots of Red Deer mostly under trees in the shade or wallowing in mud trying to keep cool. We saw both types of Seal and quite a few late Great Northern Divers, some in breeding plumage, they had better get a move on if they want to breed this year. A lot of other birds were seen including the Wheatear and Curlew in the photos below, yes they are mine you can tell as they are a little fuzzy, Chris Packham would not be impressed. My favorite bird of the day was of course the Linnet at lunchtime, it really is a bonny bird, as are Whinchats.
WheatearCurlew
May 2018
May 31st
A perfect day for a tour, warm, still and overcast, and a perfect day for me. (Pam) In the first hour we had seen 4 out of the big 5 species for Mull and by the end of coffee break we had seen an Otter. We saw 5 Otters in total, much to my guests delight, the final 2 at the end of the day swimming in clear water below us, we could see them swimming under water and the air bubbles coming to the surface, this does not bode well for Arthur tomorrow as I think we had tomorrows share of Otters today. One of todays many highlights was a drumming Snipe who flew around for several minutes eventually being joined by a second Snipe, a bird we do not see very often on our tours. The Herring Gull with crab and Heron were also taken by David Brooks.
Herring Gull with crabHeron DB
May 30th
A day you could only dream of, it was still very hot but we saw Eiders at the start of the day and this was followed by a single Curlew. at coffee we had both Common and Grey Seals, an Otter performing well and two Golden Eagles being mobbed by Ravens. As if this wasn't enough there were Great Northern Divers, Rock Pipits, Common Sandpipers and Meadow Pipits with a Skylark seranade. White-tailed Sea Eagles and Buzzards were seen well and we had a very good sighting of a male Reed Bunting. Herons were everywhere as were Oystercatchers and most of our Gull species. The day ended with Stonechat, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, dust bathing Skylarks and at least 4 Kestrels seen well. Then for an encore we had an Adder, a Hen Harrier interacting with a Buzzard and to really end an extraordinary day we saw a Cuckoo. WHAT A DAY. The photo's below of Rock Pipit, Kestrel hovering and Meadow Pipit with an insect in it's bill were taken by tour and Self-catering guest David Brooks.
Rock
                                  Pipit DBKestrl hovering DB
Meadow Pipit DB
 May 29th
SCORCIO... Is this really Mull 26 degrees again although the day started really well with brilliant Hen Harrier and Adder, then White-tailed Eagle and this was followed by Cuckoo. The weather then got hotter and the wildlife a little less although we did have a very good if brief sighting of a Golden Eagle being harried by 2 Ravens. We saw a few Seals but even they stayed mainly in the water to keep cool. The Buzzard on its nest is proving a hit with our guests as did the 2 lovely Linnets which we saw today. One group of birds enjoying the weather are hirondines, with Swallows, Sand Martins and House martins finding plent of insects to feast on.
May 28th
Another really hot day today and, unlike Arthur, I don't do heat and so each time I stopped I had to position the mini-bus so that boot lid acted as a sun shade which makes a change from it's usual use as an umberella. We had a very good morning coffee stop when we all enjoyed watching an Otter first cleaning itself, then curling up and having a sleep, after about 20 minutes it got up and went to feed with it's new friend, a Common Seal. Every time the Otter poped up to the water surface up poped the seal next to him, after a while the Otter climbed out onto a small island and the seal was trying to climb up beside him, we have seen interaction between seals and Otters before but it is quite unusual. White-tail Eagles were flying well today but the Golden Eagle was more distant however all my guests enjoyed all the small birds we saw today and the Adder at the end of the day.
May 27th
Back on tour duty and the weather was scorcio, 27 degrees in the mini-bus but with a very strong gusty warm wind. Catastrophy, my spotting scope which was out as we were looking at a very beautiful Whinchat was blown over by a very strong gust of wind and to put it mildly was completely smashed, the fittings broke in half, the front glass totally cracked as the metal outside was crushed in, and to complete my misery the inner optics no longer work, I can't understand why! Back to the tour, we had brilliant views of White-tailed Sea Eagles, fantastic Adders, very good if distant Golden Eagles, a very good Otter which would have been better through the broken scope but my reserve scope was ok, coming off the bench but we know why it was not first choice. Red Deer and both types of Seal were seen along with Stonechat, Willow Warbler, Wheatear, lots of Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins and of course 2 Linnets, my favorite bird, which made my day inspite of the accident. Thanks to todays guests Peter Harperl for these 2 stunning photo's.
WTSE Peter HarperlAdder Peter Harperl
May 18 -26th
Although we did tours at the start of this period my mind was really on my Dad who has died and I was thinking about him and his and our life together and writing my part of his eulogy. The services for my Dad were held on the 23rd at his local chapel and he was buried in a grave with my mum and it was a lovely if sad day and all the family shared their memories and love of Dad. We will be returning to Mull on Friday and will be starting doing tours on Sunday 27th when I will also recommence the regular daily blog page, thank you for your understanding. The picture below is of happier times, one of the last times mum & Dad visited Mull.
Family
                                    on tour
May 17th
A rare day for Discover Mull Tours all Mulls special species seen very well in wonderful weather and in awesome scenery. We started with fantastic Hen Harrier with a buzzard for company, it was the Buzzard that made the Harrier fly. Next it was White-tailed Sea Eagle on its nest feeding its chicks. Lesser Redpoll and Siskin in our garden at comfort break. After coffee we saw brilliant Golden Eagles with a Kestrel and Red Deer and stonechat at the same stop. More Red Deer and Buzzard on its nest were to follow with Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins, a Pied Wagtail and a pair of Grey Wagtails also seen. The afternoon started with a White-tailed Eagle fest with at least 4 birds all seen flying and sitting. Whilst looking for the elusive Otter we saw both types of Seal and a Cuckoo and then out came the Otter, not one but two, you wait all day and two come along together. Just so they could join the party the Fallow Deer appeared on our way home. What a day.
May 16th
What a difference 24 hours can make, today was beautifull and the views spectacular and the wildlife special. Male Hen Harrier flying and sitting in full view of my guests, distant Buzzards flying and Willow Warbler and Whitethroat seen. On to a White-tailed Eagle on a nest with its chick, 6 more were seen in the day flying, sitting, eating we had it all. Lots of Red Deer and both types of Seal were seen at several sites. Good views of Golden Eagle, a Kestrel, Great Northern Divers and Red breasted Mergansers although the 2 Otters seen really stole the show as they were what my guests most wanted to see and they put on quite a show. Two of my guests wanted to see Lesser Redpoll and had tried on a few occasions and the day finished on a high note for them as there was a lovely male on our Niger Seed feeder when I brought them back to Ardrioch to pick up their car at the end of a very enjoyable day.
May 15th
The day began well with White-tailed Sea Eagle seen well but we missed out on an Otter which was seen running across some rocks. Shortly after we had missed the Otter  the mist came in with a vengeance and we missed out on everything as we could barely see the sea. Later in the day the mist lifted a little and we were able to see a Short Eared Owl interacting with a buzzard and some Red Deer. Later still we had a fantastic sighting of a male Hen Harrier which my guests were really thrilled to see as was I as it had been hard work today but we ended it with a couple of memerable sightings.
May 14th
A great start to todays tour with a lovely hunting male Hen Harrier in the vally below us where we were looking for Red Deer stags on the tops of the hills, we also found the stags but they have lost their antlers now ready for the regrowth of their new ones. Golden and White-tail Eagles were seen during the day and Common and Grey Seals as well as a small group of Fallow Deer. The weather changed towards the afternoon and a low sea mist or 'Haa' come in and so I was not expecting much at afternoon tea as it also started to drizzle with rain when someone spotted a Buzzard flying close by, it circled around and went back behind a small hill and must have disturbed a day roosting Short-eared Owl which got up and gave us great close veiws as it flew in front of us. It had to happen as Pam was doing the tour and there was enough grass I had to get the mower out. I did not just get the mower out but mowed the lawns as well.
May 13th
A tour today with very good views of 2 Otters being harrassed by 2 White-tailed sea Eagles after a fish they (the Otters) had caught although they put up a good fight eventually the Eagles won the prey. A good Golden Eagle sighting being mobbed by a tiny looking Kestrel. As well as White-tailed Sea Eagle on a nest with young we also have a Buzzard on eggs on a nest for guests to see. Red Deer, Ccommon and Grey Seals were seen well on a beautIful day. Other notable sightings today were Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Common Terns, Black Guilliemot, Kittiewakes, Common Sandpipers, Lapwings and Curlews. A very good day with very good guests. I nearly forgot the Whinchat, the Stonechat and dust batheing Skylarks.
May 12th
A beautiful day weatherwise for my trip to Iona to look for Corncrake, I got lucky and saw one in the rushes, if you look carefully you will see it in the photo on the right of the Whooper Swan. on Iona on the Machair I took a couple of photos of a Pied Wagtail and a Wheatear. Other birds seen on included Linnets, Arctic Terns, diving Gannets and Ringed Plovers. At Bunessan I heard and saw a Grasshopper Warbler and at Ardalanish beach I was surprised to find a late staying Whooper Swan shown in the picture below. If you are coming to Mull and want to see a Corncrake on Iona I suggest an early start before it gets to crouded as it increases your chances immensely.
Whooper Swan ArdalanishCorncrake spot the
WheatearPied Wagtail
May 11th
A day when because of the bad weather forecast I went out specifically tolook for the Mull specialities and was fortunate to get 4 out of 5 on what was a particularly trying day wildlife wise. We went to the Bellachroy with friends this evening and I had a particularly good steak.
May 10th
I (Pam) did the tour today on the only dry day between the rain and Arthur stayed at home to mow the lawns. My thanks to my guests Pam, Ann & Maggie for coming out with us again, 3 tough old birds (in the nicest way) who prove that birding is not just for fit, young men. Another great day started with a lovely male Hen Harrier hunting and followed only 20 minutes later by a female also hunting. White-tail Eagles were seen sitting, in a tree, on a nest and on a rock and we had to wait until the end of the day when saying our goodbyes at Ardrioch to see 2 flying very close. A good close Otter spot by a young man in the van, we had to stay in the van so as not to disturbe it at it climbed over the rocks. The highlight of the day came in the afternoon, after watching Buzzards and a Golden Eagle flying I saw a Hen Harrier flying quite high, it was joined by a second and we watched for several minutes as the pair 'sky danced' higher and higher, so high that they eventually disapeared into the blue sky... wow. On the drive home a cuckoo flew across the road in front of us and sat in a tree close by. When I took Lucy for her late evening 'stroll' around the garden 2 Woodcock were roding and a Pipistral Bat was out hunting. What a great day.
May 9th
Today it rained, all day it rained and the wind blew, there were white horses on the Lochs and wildlife watching was to put it mildly very hard work. I did not do a normal tour, just played it by ear and we stopped and saw some Dunlin on our way to our house for a comfort break and morning coffee in the warm and dry. In the garden we saw Lesser Redpoll and Siskins amongst our regular birds and my guests were pleased. We had 2 brief views of Hen Harrier and a White-tailed Sea Eagle on a nest but no chance of Golden Eagle in this kind of weather. Looking for Seals which also don't like rain I luckily saw 2 Otters struggleing towards the shore in the turbulent sea, we were able to watch them as they came in and followed them down the shoreline till they went back to their holt. We saw lots of Great Northern Divers and Red Breasted Mergansers and a few little birds although after afternoon tea in the rain we saw the Fallow Deer and on a whim I tried and found 6 Red Deer. Given the weather conditions I think my guests were quite pleased with what we had seen, as was I. It just goes to prove that Mulls wildlife will perform in all weathers if you go out prepared to work hard for your sightings, I had a great time because I had to really earn my corn today.
Otter with tired youngRed
                                  deer
May 8th
A very wet morning was followed by a much better afternoon and the star attraction of the day was Short-Eared Owl which gave us very good views interacting with a Buzzard and then sitting in the heather watching us watching it. We saw 2 Otters briefly and White-tailed Eagles and eventually got a decent view of Golden Eagle. I must mention the fabulous view of a Sedge Warbler we had today, isn't it always the same, yesterday with Pam it took us ages to get a reasonable view but today even in poor conditions there it was singing away high on a reed as if to say here I am now which is my best side.
May 7th
A great tour with great guests where we saw all Mull specialities by lunch time and the guests were adding extra species to the list of things to see. There were a group of over 50 Dunlin at Loch Cuin busy feeding up on their journey to breed further north and Whimbrel were every where also feeding up. We got a extra surprise when we went to see our Slow Worn today when a shrew was hiding beside him.
In the evening Arthur and I took a short trip out and got our first Sedge Warbler of the year and I got my first Linnet. 
Dunlin feedingWhinchat on post
Cowslips with Primrose The
                                  SheilingLinnet on wire
May 6th
A great tour with a wonderfull view of a male Hen Harrier to kick things off, at the same spot I saw my first Common Whitethroat of the year and some Willow Warblers and we stopped to look for and find the Slow Worm below. Wheatear and White-tailed Sea Eagle followed and then Red Deer stags and an even better White-tailed Sea Eagle which were soon followed by a lovely Whinchat. Common Seals and Red Breasted Merganseres were next and then 2 more White-tailed Sea Eagles and 3 Otters on some rocks with one of the Otters interacting with one of the Eagles. We saw a distant brief Golden Eagle, a Gannet, Kittiwakes, my first Linnet of the year a Black Guilliemot, a brief Cuckoo, Lesser Redpoll and Dunlin. Atotal of 54 bird species and 5 mammals were seen on a fabulous day, thanks to all my great guests.
Slow worm
May 5th
Pam and I went out looking for new little birds this morning and managed to find Wood Warbler, Lesser Redpoll, Tree Pipit and Pam added House Martin to her year list. On our travels we saw 2 Hen Harriers, a Kestrel, Common Seals and Red Deer. When we returned home we found Lesser Redpoll in our garden, the first time in our garden this year and showing itself to the new self-caterers when they arrived in the afternoon, I managed to get a photo of one and also a Starling, a bird we don't get often in our garden eating on one of our fat ball feeders.
Redpol in gardenStarling on feeder
May 4th
Another cold, wet , windy day although when out and about I did see some migrating Whimbrel feeding up before they move on further north to breed. We had a lovely evening last night as our neighbourhood friends came round for a meal and catch up chat, the food was excellent with all the ladies pitching in. We also had a lot of laughs and we were very pleased with Lucy who although still not too confident at least did not shy away from everyone, so she is improving her self confidence if a little slowly. When cleaning for our visitors Pam inadverdently disturbed the Pipistrelle Bat in the photo below, it went back to bed after this photo was taken, so no harm done.
WhimbrelPipistrelle Bat
May 3rd
A cold, wet and windy day today and I (Pam) was out braving the eliments. At morning coffee stop the wind whiped the coffee granuels all around the back of the bus and into the tea cups but whilst I was cleaning up the mess one of my guests spotted an Otter out on the distant rocks, it kept appearing and dissapearing but eventually everyone got to see it and by the time evryone had their hot drink another Otter appeared very close to us and everyone got really good veiws as it rolled around cleaning itself in the sea weed, as soon as it went into the choppy waters it dissapeared. 3 White-tail Sea Eagles were seen, one flying right over our heads, a real wow moments. Lots of Seals, Red Deer and Whimbrel were seen again today. My guests were very happy to come back to our house to warm up in front of the AGA for afternoon tea and watch the birds in the garden.
May 2nd
Todays tour started on a real high with a brilliant close Otter at our 3rd stop, this Otter was so close that my guests were photographing it with their phones, it was my birthday today and all my guests had asked for was Otter, someone was giving me a good birthday present as by 10 o'clock the pressure to find an Otter was off. Even though the weather was cold in the wind and at times really wet we still saw a Golden Eagle flying, a White-tailed Sea Eagle sitting in a tree and standing on a nest, lots of Buzzards one also on a nest and a Kestrel. As my guests were not particularly interested in the other stuff Mull has to offer I included a bit of History and geology in todays tour and that went down well (I think?). A mention of Sue a young lady who was not well on the tour and we had to drop her off at Ardrioch so she could have a rest before Pam took her into Tobermory in our car, we hope she is feeling a lot better now.
May 1st
A really poor start to May weatherwise as it it rained all day and it was also windy, not the best weather for a tour and I confess it can be very hard work. Today was no exception as most of my guests really only wanted the Mull specialities and it would be a miracle to see any in the weather we got today. We did in the end see 2 good Otters, 5 Red Deer, Common Seals, a White-tailed Sea Eagle standing on its nest protecting its young from the worst of the weather and a brilliant male Hen Harrier hunting along a ridge in the pouring rain but an excellent view of this iconic bird. Other notable sightings, Whimbrel, Curlew, Eider Duck and Great Northern Divers in breeding plumage.
April 2018
April 30th
Another beautiful day for a tour and as soon as we pulled in for morning coffee an Otter appeared swimming to a seaweedy rock and staying there for the whole of our coffee break first cleaning itself then going back into the water and catching a huge fish which it ate watched over by a hungry heron who was trying to work out how to get his share of the catch. Meanwhile the Golden Eagle flew, the Seals lazed on the rocks and the cuckoo called. Unfortunatly I had managed to park the bus (Pam by the way today) in a rather sticky patch of mud and got stuck when I tried to reverse out so thanks to all my guests for getting out and giving me a little advice and a big push. (Two wheel drive, Arthurs said I should have reversed in) Our first White-tail Eagle was sitting in the top of the tree over looking it's nest and our second was in her nest feeding a small chick. Whilst watching our 3rd Golden Eagle the cuckoo called again but this time it came and sat on wires close by, a first for some of my guests. The Whimbrel was seen again today along with Curlew, Wheatears and Stonechat.
April 29th
A beautiful day for a tour and we had a really good morning with all Mull's specialist species seen by noon. We had a Red Deer stag and Hen Harrier in the first half hour and at coffee break we saw a flying Golden eagle and 2 White-tail Eagles, both types of seal, Slavonian Grebe and Great northern Diver, we didn't know which way to look. After coffee we stopped to look for an Otter and we thought there wasn't one there until an eagle eyed guest saw one come down from a burn and across the shingle and sand and slink under the seaweed. We watched the Otter for 20 minutes during which time a White-tail Sea Eagle appeared being mobbed by a crow and a Buzzard. Birds of the day: Whimbrel, a first for some of my guests, and a grand total of 5 Cuckoos, these were my first Cuckoos on Mull this year.
Whimbrel on a rock
April 28th
It was change over day in the self-catering so it was routine jobs today although I did manage to put off mowing the lawns for one more week as we had a severe ground frost last night which the grass did not appreciate. Lucy was a little stir crazy this afternoon so we had to go out and play games with her she enjoys this a lot and tears round the garden for all she is worth, we have to laugh at her antics. Although she is getting a little more confidence particularly in her own space she still baulks at any strange or sudden noises. On the other hand she is coming on leaps and bounds (literally) with her training she now does jumps that is small fences and sits on a small stand and will now stay, all this is done in the confines of the garden, we dare not let her off the lead out of the garden as one loud bang and she would be on the mainland.
April 27th
A tour today in quite good if a little cold weather, the Eagles seemed to think so as we saw quite a few Golden and White-tailed sea Eagles with some excellent views. We saw a good but distant Otter, maybe even 2 but with Golden Eagles flying up behind us and White-tailed Sea Eagles flying in front of us and the Otter(s) out on the skerries I could not look in 3 places at once. Red Deer including a stag were seen in good numbers with both types of Seal also seen well. The highlight of my day was my first Whinchat of the year, this is a beautiful little bird and I always look forward for its return to Mull. Another good sighting was the flying male Eider Duck and I also had a brief Hen Harrier sighting which I don't think any of my guests picked up.
Whinchat distant
April 25th & 26th
A couple of  days birding for myself and on a walk with Pam & Lucy, the pup, through Aros Park we found our first Chiffcaff (picture right) of the year along with a Willow Warbler (picture left) and this lovely Azalea in full bloom. Whilst on a hunt around Killichronan woods for new arrival of migrants I found this close but secretive Fallow Deer.
Willow Warbler & budsChiffchaff Aros park
Fallow Deer stag hidingAzalias in Aros park
April 24th
A walk to Langamull Beach this morning with Pam and Lucy, it was lovely and just a few photos of the walk to wet your Mull appetites.
Song Thrush singingRinged Plover
Greylag Geese strole on the
                                  beachPam & Lucy at Langamull
Langamull beach looking westLangamull beach looking east
April 23rd
A tough day to be taking out a tour and so it proved on many levels. Firstly the weather was not great, even at the start of the day, and it got worse and secondly they are doing much needed roadworks where we were told it would be a 15 minute break and after waiting patiently for 15 minutes we were told it would be at least another 45 minutes meaning we had to do a different tour or just hang around. We were on our way to have a closer look at a White-tailed Sea Eagle we had seen in a tree from across the Loch but that idea had to be abandoned and due to the weather we did not see another. We did see a Golden Eagles head as it sat on its nest and Red Deer and Common Seals but for most of the day we were looking for Otter. We had seen one briefly at the beginning of the day but some guests missed it and were desperate to see one. We looked everywhere and not another to be seen until returning to the place where the Otter had been seen in the morning on our way back home it reappeared and just like this morning after a brief cameo it dissappeared again but not before all my guests had seen it well through the telescope. On a personal view whilst looking for Otters I did see a Common Scoter a regular but not common Duck for Mull to add to my Mull year list.
April 22nd
A tour today in breezy wet conditions but that did not stop us having a great day out with both types of Deer Red and Fallow seen as well as Common and Grey Seals and lets not forget the Rabbits although it was the very good Otter that our guests were most pleased to see. We saw 50 species of birds with Eider Ducks, Goosander, and breeding plumage Great Northern Divers being standouts. It was however at tea break when the rain stopped for that the bird sightings of the day happened, firstly a Short Eared Owl being mobbed by Hooded Crows at close quarters and then 6 Hooded Crows playing a game with some white plastic tube or were they just highlighting the dangers of plastic in the wild. The day could not have ended on a much better note but it did when a Golden Eagle appeared being mobbed by not just a male Hen Harrier but also a Short Eared Owl with all three in the shot together, another WOW moment in Mulls world. The day ended with our local White-tailed Sea Eagle feeding its young (bless).    
Eider Duck maleGoosander male & female
GN Diver  

April 21st
It is Saturday and we have no tour as it is change over day in our self-catering and as it is the Mull music festival weekend we did not want to venture to far out with Lucy who is still not to great with lots of people and surprises. On this basis I stayed close to home only going down to the end of Loch Cuin and across the road from Ardrioch to the side of Loch Cuin and in and around our garden. In total I saw 27 different bird species and 2 Mammals, 3 if you count Lucy but I was only counting the wild ones like this Red Deer in our field. My particular favorite was our Yellowhammer and an amusing Dunnock a bird often overlooked which was playing hide and seek in the Daffodils.
Red deer in our field
April 20th
No Dolphins on todays tour but nobody minded (much) because today we had an Otter, a very good Otter. Today we also had not one, not two but 3 Great Skuas and 3 Gannets and a Kittiewake and one Black-tailed Godwit and 15 lovely Golden Plover. Birds of prey included Golden Eagle, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Buzzard and a very fast fleeting view of a Merlin which flew righy in front of the van. Blackcap was seen for the second tour running this is becoming habitual (not). Red Deer were seen in good numbers as were Common Seal and also getting the seal of approval were Great Northern Divers and breeding plumaged Slavonian Grebe. Pam came on todays tour and showed she has lost none of her spotting skills.
Otter cleaning it selfSwallow on wire
Golden Plover 5Golden Plover 9
April 19th
A tour and the pictures say it all. Bottle-nose Dolphins, Black-tail Godwit and Short-eared Owl. We saw 62 bird species and 5 Mammals but no Otter but because the Dolphins were so good nobody minded (much).  A pair of Blackcap were seen not a usual bird for a Discover Mull Tour and my first of the year, I also saw my first Willow Warbler of the year soon they will be everywhere. Whilst we were watching the Dolphins a Great Skua flew through another good sighting which will be surpassed tomorrow (so you now know I am late with this blog). Whimbrel drew lots of oos and aars as it was a first for some of my guests. Raptors seen were Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Hen harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. We had great views of a flying Snipe but the only thing that came close to usurping the Dolphins was the great view of 2 day flying Short Eared Owls. Thanks to all my guests great spotters one and all and more importantly good fun. GREAT DAY
Dolphins at CalliachDolphins Bottle nose
Dolphins close inBlack-tail Godwit
S-E Owl sitting on postS-E Owl flying
April 18th
Pam and I took Lucy to dog training today and according to Moira the trainer, Pam and I are coming on slowly but Lucy is doing great. I told Pam if I got as many treats as Lucy I might be doing great to, judging by the look I got she didn't agree.
April 17th
A tour in very inclement weather which my guests bore with stoical good humour and grace and they were rewarded with good Eagle sightings and more although it was not my best tour, thank goodness for the hot soup and sandwiches. (to avoid confusion the sandwiches were not hot).
April 16th
A trip out with friends and enjoyed by all.
April 15th
Today I went out with Pete and Jenny who are friends from Cheshire who are staying with us for the week, they house sit for us and do change overs in the self-catering when we go away in the Summer. We went out for a drive round today and had a spectacular sighting of a Peregrine falcon chasing after a hapless Rock Dove and they both flew past us really close twice as the Dove tried to evade capture, it was certainly one of those WOW wildlife moments. My report says Rock Dove (Good escaping tactics) Peregrine Falcon (Hunting tactics need work) Every now and then you do something pretty special and don't get the recognition you deserve, this is what happened to a hunting Sparrowhawk which flew past us, not quite as close, not quite as fast but a great sighting never the less but it only make a splash as the Peregrine was just so much more spectacular, bad luck mate. Todays photo of a very obliging Sand Martin on a power line.
Sandmartin on wire
April 14th
I went into Tobermory for fuel today and on my way in I saw a Reed Bunting in scrub along the Mishnish Lochs and managed a quick photo before a car came up behind me. On the return journey I spotted a lovely Grey Wagtail on telephone wires and this time I was able to photograph it using my telescope. at Loch Torr I saw my first Sand Martins of the year, migration appears to be slow again this year but with warmer weather forecast it could speed up next week. I think our local White-tailed Sea Eagles have hatched their chicks as I thought I saw feeding on the nest when I went to check our water supply this morning. Finally when walking Lucy across the road to the Loch I had a very good female Hen Harrier sighting.
Reed BuntingGrey Wagtail April18
April 13th
The weather today certainly lived up to Friday the Thirteenth, colder and wetter the Mull we all know and love, a great day for a tour. Well it turned out it was with all Mulls special species seen including 2 Otters at a spot I have not seen Otters in for 4 years, let's hope they remain there for the summer. I am now going for an early night to recover from 2 wonderfull weeks of Grandchildren, ZZZZZZZZ
April 12th
Today was the last full day with the family so we took a picnic up to Cailaich Point for a spot of Sea watching, it was the first day of Spring weatherwise with temperatures soaring to 17 degrees and sunshine all day. Highlight bird seen on the sea watch had to be the Great Skua spotted by Pam, our first on Mull this year. we also saw Manx Shearwaters, Gannet, Razorbills, Guilliemots, Black Guilliemots, Great Northern Divers and Shags. Another highlight was a flock of 8 Whooper swans migrating north between Mull and Coll a lovely sight to see. This afternoon I left the girls playing with Lucy as I went to have 40 winks, Grandchildren can be quite exhausting for this Grandpa. Ps They went Swimming in the sea again today, anyone know any good doctors as I am sure they need treatment.
April 11th
Pam did todays tour and I took the girls out to look for Otters, we found a very good one and the girls were great as the otter was very close but just for once in a week they kept quiet and so did not disturb the Otter from eating its Crab. Pam had a great day seeing very good White-tailed Sea Eagles, 2 Golden Eagles, Hen Harrier, an Otter and Red Deer amongst a variety of other Mull wildlife. In the evening we took the girls to the Hebridean Lodge restaurant in Tobermory, we also took their Mum as she had been a very good girl. The menu was very grown up and I think the girls felt a wee bit special, they were very well behaved and did not leave a scrap of food on their plates. thanks to Helen for providing us with such a good meal.
Otter eating
April 10th
A cold but dry day with winds coming in from the East so Pam and our daughter Becky WENT SEA SWIMMING?????? mad or what.
Later Pam went to the Bank bus and I took Becky and the girls to Calgary where we saw Bottle Nose Dolphins, now these are Mammals that should be in the sea on a cold morning in April.
Dolphin 1Dolphin 2
April 9th
A day out with our Becky (our daughter) and the girls and although some of us, ie the smaller girls, got very cold. A good time was had by all including Lucy even though she found the day tiring and went to sleep in her cage as we were having lunch. On our walk we saw some Hares, check out the photo, a Grey Seal and a White-tailed Sea Eagle. As I have put a few photographs of cattle on the blog recently I thought I would redress the balance with a picture of a mum with two new born lambs having lunch before we got ours. On the way to our walk I saw a Carrion Crow, a very rare bird on Mull as we have Hooded Crows, my Grandchildren were very amused when I got excited by a Crow, even when I tried to explain the significence. Oh well, you can't win them all, I don't understand their horrific taste in music.
Hare at GlengormLambs feeding
Arthur, Pam, Lucy &
                                  grandaughtersLauren, Emma, Natasha & Lucy
Grey Seal
April 8th
A tour today in perfect conditions but to prove Winter is not quite over there were a lot of Redwings around on Mull today, these winter Thrushes are gathering before travelling North to breed. Eight Golden Eagles seen today including a juvenile still hanging around its birth territory and proving my guests with great views through the scope thanks to it white underwing and tail markings. Size comparrison for the Eagle was given by a very persistent female Hen Harrier which was constantly mobbing the young Eagle and it made for a great spectacle. We saw 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles one in a tree and one flew over our heads and we also had good sightings of Red Deer including stags and both Common and Grey Seals. Sighting of the day for me was of a full breeding plumaged Slavonian Grebe it was a beautiful bird and well worth seeing. Other notable sightings were Grey wagtail and an Iceland Gull and I got a better if not brilliant photo of a Wheatear.
Golden Eagle on top of hillWheatear male
Iceland Gull ay LagganulvaGrey Wagtail


April 7th
A short trip to cailaich Point with the family and Pam saw her first Wheatear and we both saw our first Guilliemot for 2018. there were lots of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks and a good view of a Kestrel.
Highland Cattle herd
April 6th
Firstly, a big thank you to all of yesterdays guests for their patience and perseverance in some very trying conditions weatherwise. It was raining heavily at the start of the day and it was raining heavily at the end of the day with little or no respite in between. My guests were rewarded with a record number of Hen Harriers ever seen on one Discover Mull Tour, it is no coincidence we have no Grouse shooting estates on Mull but have lots of Hen Harriers, draw your own conclusions. Against all odds and the weather conditions we saw a Golden Eagle being harried by a Raven giving good size comparrison, my guests were, in modern parlance, well pleased. They were more than well pleased with the Otter we saw and which put on a great display just for us as no one in their right minds would be out in the weather conditions unless they had to be. We also saw a White-tailed Sea Eagle on a distant nest, difficult to see throgh the rain and a particularly troublesome branch which partially cover the view but as it was blowing in the wind it was a case of now you see it now you don't. Red Deer were seen as we approached Tobermory at the end of the tour. My highlights today were my first Wheatears of the year and also my first Manx Shearwaters and a very close Gannet which dived into the water after food right in front of our eyes. We had afternoon tea at our house in the warm and dry and my guests were able to watch all our garden birds in comfort and warmth, to put it mildly they were well pleased.
April 5th
Today I took Pam around our tour patch to show her where I am seeing 'stuff' ('stuff' is a birding term for wildlife ) I don't know why but there it is. We visited the sewage outfalls when we were out for a last chance for Pam to see an Iceland Gull before it goes back north and luckily for her, and me, we saw it and whats more I got a half decent photo of it flying. At Gruline Church we saw 4 Bullfinches another bird I had seen this year but Pam had not so I got myself a lot of Brownie Points, but as a male friend of mine once said he never seems to get to redeem them before they seem to expire. On the original reason for the trip we saw Hen Harriers, Golden Eagles, White-tailed Sea Eagles, Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Common Seal, the only Mull specialist we did not see was Otter but we were only out for 3 hours and that included the walk to the outfalls. One last word at the outfalls we saw the female Gadwall and managed a not too clever photo but a better one of a pair of Shelduck which was also there.
BullfinchIceland Gull
Shellduck pairGadwall female 

April 4th
I spent time out and about today and although I did not see too much wildlife to get you off your seat I did see a lot of stuff to be very glad I had made the effort. To begin with the views were spectacular after yesterdays snow as you can see from the photos of Beinne More and Rhum, Beinne More was taken from Tostary and Rhum from the Cailaich road. Also at Cailaich I took the picture of the herd of Highland Cows and Calves as they walked up the road towards me, I love seeing the Cailaich Highland herd as they are in such a great setting. At Cailaich Point there was this single Lapwing in a field with Oystercatchers and I took the photograph before 3 others joined the party. In a mixed flock of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks I managed to get one photo of a feeding Meadow Pipit the others were too far away and I did not want to disturb them so remained in the car. I did see 2 White-tailed sea Eagles feeding on an island and took this picture through my scope, it isn't great but you get the picture. One other bit of wildlife that was really worth seeing were the 4 long staying Bar-tailed Godwits at Killiechronan now coming into breeding plumage. It is not just the wildlife that makes Mull special, today it was just a pleasure to be out. All the photos in the first 4 days of April were taken today.
Rhums snow capped peaksBen More from Torloisk
Meadow PipitLapwing
April 3rd
It rained all day with a lot of snow on the hills so it was another clear up day as we have to get ready for our other grandchildren who are visiting this weekend with our daughter as their dad could not get time off work. Lucy was relieved to have the house and us back to herself today and between tidying the house and cottage we gave her a lot of time for training and fun, we had a lot of fun too as she can get a little bit nuts.
April 2nd
My first full tour of the year in perishing cold conditions due to a strong easterly wind. During the day we had fantastic views of displaying Hen Harriers with 4, three females and a male, seen during the day. White-tailed Sea Eagles were seen very well, one flying very close before landing near a juvenile on some rocks, provoking gasps of pleasure from some of my guests. As I was putting the telescope on one of the Eagles I saw an Otter swim past but due to the rough seas and the unobliging Otter that was the only sighting of an Otter today. Three distant Golden Eagles were seen and other birds of prey were Buzzards, of course, and Kestrels. We had good views of Red Deer stags, hinds and a couple of Fallow Deer. Other notable sightings were the Whimbrel at Salen and some very nice Goldeneye Ducks.
WTSE's in sunshineHighland Cows and 2 calves
April 1st
Happy Easter to all readers of this blog. Todays Easter Egg hunt round the garden went down very well with the Grandchildren. Thanks to Richie our son for his hard work on aga and boiler servicing, fixing our neighbours water supply and putting my music through to the bedroom and other numerous small jobs. Thanks also to my frustated daughter-in-law Sheetal who once again fixed up my ageing body and left me with loads of instuctions and phyiso technices to keep it fixed up, sorry love it probably won't happen although I will try.
March 2018
March 29th to 31st
Family visiting with very young grandchildren and friends dogs,                                                               Rishee and doggie friends
Lucy somewhat traumatised but otherwise coped well.

March 28th
The morning was spent with Moira, dog training Lucy, Moira is excellent and Lucy is coming on very well for a puppy that is a bit of a scaredy cat and afraid of its own shadow, Pam and my progression is less noticeable, something about old dogs and new tricks methinks, I think Moira has her work cut out with us, not Lucy. This evening we went for a quick trip around the local patch and saw our first Red Throated Diver of the year near Lainne Sguer at Calgary which made our trip worthwhile. We also saw a pair of Ravens, a much underrated bird as they are remarkable flyers even if they are a tad evil. The other highlight for me was the Buzzard in the picture below, the main reason for this is it let me get a couple of photos before flying off, unusual for Buzzards!
Raven on a rockBuzzard on a post
March 27th
Rain all day till a break for half an hour before another refreshing shower, a lovely day for a tour but hey ho off we go. We did see lots of Waders including Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew, Whimbrel, Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwit. As it was a good day for them we saw plenty of Ducks, Mallards, Teal Wigeon and Shelduck also Great Northern Divers, Shags and Cormorants. One brave Common Seal sitting out on a small island and plenty of Red Deer. Birds of prey were at a premium due to the weather although Buzzards never fail me and we did get a good Sparrowhawk sighting, A White-tailed Eagle dilligently sitting on eggs was a nice sight at the second attempt, the nest not being visible in the morning but as with all tours there was a special sighting during the half hour break. A pair of Hen Harriers displaying, it was fabulous and warmed the cockles of our hearts to know that here on Mull these iconic birds can live in peace. One of my guests, a goodbirder from Norfolk had never seen a Hen Harrier before yet had seen a Montagues Harriers in Norfolk, so it made my day.
March 26th
Today we went to Tobermory, to be precise the tip, we were so overwhelmed with the experience we went twice, taking all our old matresses and enough cardboard boxes to fill a skip on our own, most of them had once contained bird seed, now I know why we have so many birds in our garden. We took Lucy, our timid pup, with us and I can safely say she wasn't overwhelmed by the experience although Nic Davis and Simon Proud did their best to coax her out of fear of people. On our way home we had a fantastic sighting of Hen Harriers both male and female it made up for the fact that for two days running wildlife watching has been at a premium.
March 25th
No rest for the wicked as we were both hard at work today as our first guests of the season arrive tomorrow and with Pam wealding the big stick I could not get out wildlife watching during the day. After tea as the clocks had sprung forward and as it was a beautiful evening we went to Calgary and then to Cailaich. At Calgary we got these lovely sunset photos looking out towards Tyree and Coll, not to be outdone the Moon also put in an appearance. On our way to Cailaich we saw these Red Deer and could not help but stop for a photo shoot. On our way home past the Langamull car park a Tawny Owl flew in front of the car and took a Vole from an area of felled trees, a 2018 Mull first for both of us, the Owl not the Vole.

Deer 4 on hillDeer single
Red-sky over Tiree
Sun setting over CollMoon
March 24th
Working on final touches for the self-caterers today Pam inside and me outside although we managed a couple of hours to go round the block and saw in beautfull sunlight a Summer (breeding) plumaged Black Throated Diver in Calgary Bay, I also saw my first Gannet of the year on Mull. Oh well back to work and dog training. 
March 23rd
My first tour of the year and the day did not look to promising with low cloud, rain and a stiff breeze and yes, it was cold. I decided to go around my usual route for a Dervaig start and in spite of the weather which incidently did improve as the day went on we had an incredible day. We saw Red and Fallow Deer, Common Seal, Rabbits and 2 very good Otters so it was a great Mammal day. Then the birds, particularly birds of prey, we saw 5 White-tailed Sea Eagles with 2, a male and female, flying together and giving us great size comparison between the sexes, females being quite a bit larger. 5 Golden Eagles were seen with two hunting, it was here we also saw a Rabbit once before the the Goldie took it and again as it was being skinned, nature in the raw, yes, but boy was it spectacular. Other birds of prey seen were lots of Buzzards with a pair making love being a highlight, Spring is in the air, a female Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kesrel and a brief Perigrine so you could say we had a raptorous day. I was made up to see how much wildlife was in my patch.
HedgehogShags 4
March 22nd
At last some wildlife watching and a speedy tours reconoitre of our route as I have tours to give over Easter. The White-tailed Sea Eagles are now mostly down on nests and not so easy to see but I did manage to see a single juvenile bird in flight. A Golden Eagle also seen but distant and no Otters as the tides were not really right. I saw a total of 48 bird species and 5 Mammals and I had only been out for half of the time it takes to do a full tour but I learned a lot about where the wildlife will be this Summer, its what reckies are for.
March 21st
The Van test???- It Passed.
I spent a lot of the day with Lucy the dog today as we had a visit from Moira, a local dog trainer and we learned an awful lot and Lucy learned that she is going to get loads of treats if she behaves herself and does as she is told. Shelties are naturally a liitle skittish breed and at the moment when not with us Lucy is scared of her own shadow so we have to introduce her to more people and dogs in a safe environment, so more classes. This evening Lucy introduced herself to a garden visitor which she could not make head nor tail of, check out the photo below.
LucyLucy running
March 20th
The day before the mini-van inspection so it was final clean and polish in readiness. As we had taken the van to Devon to give it a good run, instead of it being dark blue it was white from all the salt that it had picked up from all the road gritting so the cleaning took up quite some time. There was no time for wildlife watching today although as it was a cleaning day I did also clean all the bird feeders, do an Arthur repair of the bird tables and fetched 7 wheelbarrow loads of top soil from Mole hills to cover all the areas where the bird feeders will be re-hung.
March 7th  to 19th
Last visit to Cheshire and Devon to see relatives before the season gets under way and our time will be limited.
March 6th
I had a quiet day today puppy sitting and dealing with our electrician because on Tuesdays Pam has uddles of things on and is out for most of the day in the Winter. My day remained quiet until our friends came back at 4pm and said they had seen a Dunlin at Dervaig, now Dunlin are not unusual at Dervaig as early as this so I was intrigued and we all went down for a look including Pam now back in between her jollies and in spite of us thinking it was a Curlew Sandpiper better birders than us confirmed it was indeed a Dunlin. The Kingfisher was there as well so not such a quiet day as the Dunlin was a first for me this year.
Curlew SandpiperCurlew Sandpiper 2
March 5th
A final full day out with our friends before they go home and what a great time we had with a total of 5 Hen Harriers seen and also 5 Otters, it helped that the tides were right for Otter spotting. Eagle wise we saw 3 Golden Eagles 2 flying and 1 sitting and 2 Whitetailed Sea Eagles very close. Red Deer including stags and Fallow Deer doing what they do best, looking pretty. Other notable sightings were Reed Buntings, Pink footed Geese, our first for the year, Kittiwakes and Razorbills, a pair of Grey Wagtails, Turnstones and a large mixed flock of Lapwings and Golden Plover two of my favorite Waders. The day ended with a trip to Tobermory for a very nice meal at the Mishdish, the restaurant at the Mishnish pub.
Otter mother & cubOtter with fish
Otter coming out of waterGrey Heron
WTSE sitting on hill
March 4th
A quiet day today as we are not used to late nights but I did manage to drag myself out for a couple of hours to go down to the Loch at Dervaig and a quick drive round the block over the hill road to Torloisk and back home via Calgary. At Dervaig there were the usual Common Gulls, Redshanks and Greenshanks, a Curlew, Goldeneyes, Red Breasted Mergansers but my today favorite were the very busy, very close Snipe. Very little to report on my way round the block except lots of Hooded Crows and 2 very nice Song Thrushes. It was near the top of the hill at Reudle I got the surprise and brilliant sighting of the day the Red Grouse in the picture below standing proud in its own territory and it was also a bit of a Diva as it just stood there and allowed me to get my picture. It made my day and I was glad I had made the effort to go out.
SnipeRed Grouse
March 3rd
We took our friends out this morning and had a good time wildlife watching although it was still very cold it was only breezy and not windy so the wind chill factor was less. On my hobby horse of wildlife photographic disturbance we came upon a couple photographing an Otter, the Otter was less tham 4 metres (15 feet) away and completely unaware of their presence and if you look at my photo of them you will see why. Remember it was perishingly cold and damp but the object is to get your photos without disturbing the subject, I was most impressed by this duo and hope they got some decent shots. When we saw them we did not stop but went a couple of hundred yards past, as they had found the Otter and we did not want to disturb it for them, we still had great views through the telescope although the Otter was too far away for me to get a decent picture which is why there is no Otter in my photo. Other wildlife seen today were a pair of nest building Golden Eagles, 2, chilling before breeding, White-tailed Sea Eagles, Red and Fallow Deer and Grey Seals. We also saw these beautiful Goosander, the photo was taken just after we had seen him trying to 'pull' the female. On our way into Tobermory this evening to watch the 'Darkest Hour' at the Sreen Machine we had a Hare run up the road in front of the car, isn't it funny how some roadhogs don't let you past, we enjoyed the view though as we were in good time to see a very good film.
Photographers using fieldcraftGoosander pair
March 2nd
My day today reminded me of the film How to train your Dragon as I spent time trying to train Lucy our new pup and after a visit to the dentist to have my troublesome tooth removed you could say I am Toothless???? you have to see the film. No birding today but should be back out there tomorrow.
March 1st
Today my appreciation of what the wildlife cameramen go through when filming in the Antarctic went up a notch or two as it was Baltic on Mull and with the wind chill thrown in it was to put it bluntly FREEZING but the sun out and we had no snow, for once the best weather in Britain can be found in the North West of Scotland. Out and about today we saw 2 female Hen Harriers hunting, lots of Red Deer and a single White-tailed Sea Eagle. At Killiechronan there was a large flock of Twite my first of the year also at end of Loch Na Keal were Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Bar Tailed Godwit so braving the conditions was worth while particularly for all the ice sculptures we were seeing. Back home inthe comfort of our kitchen we saw one of our Brambling back in the garden and two Treecreepers kept us amused with their antics and I managed a photo of one of them.
treecreeper in the gardenEas Force ice flow
Loch Cuin ice-sheetLoch Cuin iced over
February 2018
Feb27th and 28th
Great Britain is suffering in snow, ice and freezing temperatures and for once Mull has some great weather sunshine light winds and dry, in short glorious and fantastic birding conditions and what have I been doing making the puppy escape proof that's what. The good news is that we finished this evening and our new puppy should be very secure so I should be able to get out again in March and look forward to bringing you up to date on what we are doing on Mull. Now as most of you regular visitors to Mull know we do not have any Red Squirrels on Mull so Pam decided to make one of her own in the shape of a 1000 piece jigsaw, it took her ages and this is the result.
Red Squirrel
Feb 26th
No birding ......... Just fencing to keep the pup in...... Thanks Nick.
Feb 25th
Today I had a very sore head and no it was not a hangover although I suppose you could say it was a definite hangover from cracking my head open on an opened window frame. This afternoon we took the tour van in for its annual service and mot and on our way back we stopped at Dervaig and saw the Kingfisher the first time we have seen it there this year, nice to see it back. The usual stuff was present at Dervaig incuding a very nice pair of Goosanders. We also went to Cailaich where Pam saw her Jack Snipe and I managed a nice photograph of a skylark with a very good crest.
Skylark
Feb 24th
A trip round the block via Calgary and Torloisk and over the hill road back home. At Calgary there were lots of Common Gulls and Oystercatchers and a single Redshank, on the water 3 Great Northern Divers, a single Shag and the Black Throated Diver was still present. There were Ravens, Hooded Crows, Buzzards, a Kestel and Red Deer seen on the road to Torloisk and not a dicky Bird on the Hill Road back to Dervaig. At Dervaig amongst the Common and Herring Gulls was a single Lesser Black Backed Gull my first on Mull this Year, also present were several Common Snipe, at least 3 Redshank, and a single Greenshank. On returning home I took Lucy our new Pup for a walk in the garden and as I was talking to our new friend failed to notice the opened bathroom window of Inch Hame the larger of out two self-catering cottages and smacked my head on the corner of the window. I sank to my knees as the blood flowed profusely determindly hanging on to Lucy's lead, needless to say after we had stemmed the flow of blood not much was accomplished in the afternoon. This evening we went round to Nick and Catherines our friends and neighbours and had a lovely meal and a good time and Lucy behaved perfectly. one thing about today, I now know why I never really got into Status Quo, I'm not keen on head banging....Too Bl..dy painfull.
Lesser BB Gull with Common Gulls
Feb 23rd
Today I reached my 100th bird species seen on Mull in 2018 when I went to Cailaich Point, as I walked towards the bog a Jack Snipe rose up from underneath my feet and flew about 20 yards before landing in the middle of the bog. I was doubly pleased as this was a species I had missed out on last year. On my way out of Cailaich I saw some Golden Plovers in a field to far away to photograph but seen well through my newly serviced telescope.
Feb 22nd
A successful trip out to look for and see the Little Gull that has been hanging about on Loch Na Keal, it was in a group of mixed Gulls and Shags that had found a shoal of fish and they were taking the opportunity to feed up whilst they could. The action lasted about 10 minutes and it was well worth getting nearly frozen to death in the very cold wind to witness it. We saw a flock of Skylarks on our travels another sign that Winter is nearly over. A total of 4 Otters were seen and by using field craft I managed to get a reasonable photo of one and it did not know I was there. Two White-tailed Sea Eagles were seen as were both Red and Fallow Deer on a nice trip out with Pam.
Otter with fishOtter with splash
Feb 21st
I left Arthur at home doing his George Formby impressions (cleaning windows) not one his favorite jobs but at least he had Lucy our new Sheltie Pup for company. On a trip down the glen road to have coffee with a friend I was lucky enought to see a Kestrel flying along side the car before stopping to hover, 2 White-tail Eagles sitting at he top of a hill, Ravens, Buzzard, Red Deer and a hunting Hen Harrier. My friends garden feeder had lots of siskins and a Blue Tit. Today we had a visit from the Chub man an annual visit to check out all our fire extinguishers were in good condition and servicing them, another job done for the up-coming season.
Feb 19th and 20th
We are gearing up for the up-coming season with Pam Spring cleaning and I clearing the garden of branches which have fallen during Winter gales and I have also started valeting the mini-van for the tours. and cleaning windows. We went briefly to Calgary on the 19th and saw the Black Throated Diver was still there as was the Great Northern Diver. On the 20th I managed to get out in the afternoon and had a great view of a juvenile White-tailed Sea Eagle which flew right past me and a very good sighting of a Kestrel, I also saw Goosander, Red Breasted Mergansers, Wigeon and Goldeneye and a close Slavonian Grebe. It was mammals however that were most prominant with both Grey and Common Seals seen and also Red and Fallow Deer although it was an Otter seen to far away to photograph that really was the highlight. One other bird which I saw was a Dipper back on sight after all the Winter rain and snow.
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.
JayYellowhammers
GoldfinchSiskin
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
                                  Diver
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.
Curlew
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
                            Tit
Dunnock in snowHouse
                            Sparrow
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.
Ice
                                  Age
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.
Nov20th-21st
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.
Goosander
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.
GN
                                  DiverRed breasted Merganzer
OystercatchersDipper
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.
WidgeonGoosander
Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush &
                                  RedwingFieldfares
Redwing
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
enquiries@discovermull.co.uk
Mail
                                        box
telephone
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