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January 2016
Jan 31st
The calm after the storm and Pam took our dog Sally over the road to the Loch and watched an Otter and 16 bird species. I went out and about and saw 5 White-tailed Sea Eagles in total, over 20 Great Northern Divers, 24 Golden Plovers at killiechronan, 8 Goosanders, 6 Greenshank, a Dipper at Knock Bridge and my first Black Guillimots of the year with 3 in Lagganulva Bay. There was a Kingfisher seen again at Dervaig this morning but as usual I missed it in the afternoon.
WTSE on the rocksDipper
Goosander
Jan 30th
The aftermath of storm Gertrude so we stayed indoors and did the RSPB big garden birdwatch. Birds seen were Chaffinches 80, Greenfinches 6, Goldfinches 7, Blackbirds 3, Coal Tit 3, Collared Dove 2, Rock Dove 27, Blue Tit 4, Great Tit 2,Dunnock 3, House Sparrow 3, Robin 2, Kestrel, Buzzard and Hooded Crow. A Sparrowhawk flew through but we missed it but all the birds dissapeared for a while and the poor weather put off the Jay,Treecreeper, Siskins and Yellowhammers which have been regular visitors recently.
Robin at ArdriochKestrel at Ardrioch
Jan 29th
Only one word to describe todays weather Gertrude, however the seas were spectacular. I spent the afternoon re-cataloging my C.D. collection.
Calgary storm
Calgary storm 2
Jan 28th
It rained, heavily, I'm not that daft I stayed in and watched it through the windows and saw the Brambling and 4 Yellowhammers.
Jan 27th
Spent most of the day in the garden but I did manage to see a flock of about 10 Long tailed Tits fly into and almost immeadiately out of the garden. We had our kestrel hovering over us again today and our regular Buzzard put in an appearance. I saw the Treecreeper again today and on a brief trip to the end of Loch Cuin at Dervaig took this picture of a Herring Gull with a Red Breasted Merganser. The weather today was much improved it did not rain all day and for a second or two I saw blue sky.

Herring Gull &
                                              Merganzer
Jan 26th
Today was to put it mildly wet and windy and you would think nobody in their right mind would go out wildlife watching but I did, so I must be out of my mind. What did he see in such awful weather I hear you asking yourselves, hmm 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles flying in circles around each other in drizzle on gale force winds. A fantastic view of a ghostly male Hen Harrier, difficult to see at first with its grey back against a very grey backdrop, this is where the black wing tips come in handy. An Otter struggling through high waves being driven in on the winds, this remarkable creature then started fishing and yes catching fish. Red Deer, Grey Seals and other birds were seen and I had a really good day out.Still think i'm out of my mind..... probably.
Jan 25th
What a day rain and wind and I had to stay in but as I was talking to my Dad on the phone I saw our Tree Creeper through the office window, Pam has seen it on several occasions but until today it had illuded me. After the rain stopped I went to Dervaig and I saw a female Hen Harrier hunting, a Buzzard, a White-tailed Sea Eagle, a small flock of Wigeon, Little Grebe, Greenshanks, Redshanks and Greylag Geese. Home again and back to work in the garden and somehow Pam had managed to turn off the aga so it took ages to toast my bread for lunch.
Buzzard on a branch
Jan 24th
I went out birding today in the worst conditions possible, low cloud, rain and wind. Although I did not see much in the way of our super star species I did add 2 more species to my Mull year list, firstly Canada Geese, there were several in a field at Killiechronan mixed with Greylag Geese, then on returning home my first Yellowhammer of the year in our garden. It briefly stopped raining this afternoon so it was out working in the garden for me and contiued up dating the web site for Pam.
Yellowhammer
Jan 23rd
I took our Sheltie ( Shetland Sheepdog ) to the vets to have its micro chip fitted as this is to become law in Scotland in April, I have to say she was no trouble and did not even wince. Not satisfied with just giving her the implant the vet decided she needed a booster jab, Sally the dog, not the vet and so she will have to go back in a fortnight for another injection, we decided it best not to tell her. I stopped and bought some more bird seed on my way home in preparation for the RSPB big garden birdwatch next weekend.
Jan 22nd
A day spent at home working after last nights monsoon had stopped, so apart from birds in the garden , note the Jay photo, I have little to report.
Jay in the garden
Jan 21st
I was right it definitely was the morning after the night before. I trip to see our friend Alan Mullbirds Spellman today, he has always been a good sounding board for us regarding our web-site and gave some thoughts to consider today. On our way home Pam saw her first Dipper of the year on the Aros river and we saw 2 pairs of White-tailed Sea Eagles, the first pair looking particularly miserable in the rain, the other pair just off hunting as the rain had stopped.
Jan 20th
A trip round the block with Pam and we had a good sighting of 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles flying off Treshnish Point and a few Gannets flying between Mull and Coll, my first Gannets of the year. Nearing Dervaig on our way back home we saw a juvenile Golden Eagle, a female Hen Harrier and a couple of Buzzards. Over the house on our return was a kestrel which we are seeing here most days now. This evening we went to our friends Nick and Catherines house to celebrate Nicks birthday, we had a lovely evening but I am sure we will pay for it tomorrow.
Snipe Loch CuinHeron at Calgary
Jan 19th
It stopped raining and I found myself back in the garden but not before a trip into Tobermory where I saw 8 Whooper Swans on the Mishnish Lochs and managed to photograph the 3 closer ones. There were 4 Snipe and 2 Greenshank at Dervaig and also an unusually large count of 75 Common Gulls and only a single, lonely, Herring Gull which looked like it had been sent to coventry by the Common Gulls as it was standing all alone on a large rock.
Swans a swimming
                                              Jan16
Jan 18th
A day of constant rain and I took a trip to my water supply dam which was overflowing and making a wetland habitat which is OK by me but Sally our dog hates it. Sally and I took a tour of our perimiter fence to check there were no breaks and disturbed a Woodcock my first seen this year. This afternoon I dragged Pam for an hour at Cailaich and although we did not see a lot in the drizzle a female Merlin flew in and perched for a few seconds before flying away again. This evening, still in the rain we went on an Owl hunt along the road by the river Bellart and spotted a Barn Owl on a post wondering if the rain was ever going to stop. At home today I had a great view of our Jay but did not manage a photo but I was more lucky with our Brambling and got one shot, nice Blue Tit as well.
Brambling &
                                                Blue Tit
Jan 17th
A beautiful day and I stayed home in case the Brambling returned so I could get a photograph, sods law it did not put in an appearance but the Jay did although it flew off before I could even pick up my camera. It was said on the news this morning that men are lazy on Sundays, so who am I to buck this trend.
Jan 16th
A cold, windy and snow showery day, not the best weather for the Isle of Mull bird club annual winter bird count, in the event 80 species of birds were seen, not a record count but the most species for many years, well done to all the bird club members who braved the conditions and did extraordinarily well. Pam and I along with our friends and neighbours Nick and Catherine saw the most species with a total of 64. We did not see a White-tailed Eagle but were the only group to see Golden Eagles, we also saw 6 Otters two of which ran across the road in front of us, which shows why so many Otters are run over on Mull if you drive fast. I saw 3 new birds fo my year list a Brambling in our garden, a Dipper at Aros and 2 Pied Wagtails so a good day all round.
Oystercatcher Trophy
Jan 15th
Our land line phone is put of order and being fixed on monday so if you need to contact us please use our mobile 07780600367. A kestrel hovered over our garden today, not an unusual bird on Mull but rarely seen from the house. It was not so cold today so more gardening, I don't get what so many of you get out of gardening, me I just get a sore back. I went to Tobermory this afternoon to fill up the bus in preparation for tomorrows bird club bird count, we are going with our friends and hope to have a lot of fun and laughter.
Jan 14th
After the overnight snow and frost the views from Ardrioch were spectacular but the under foot conditions were treacherous so I thought it prudent to stay home today. Pam continued to make the Roman Blinds for the new kitchen in Inch Hame and from the occasional expletive I heard proved it might not be as easy as she thought. Pam being a woman can of course multi task and whilst sewing and cooking still managed to find our first Siskin visiting the garden this year, another new bird for my year list.
View from ArdriochWinter view from the
                                              Sheiling
Jan 13th
a cold frosty start to our day out with our friends Jaquie and Mike down to the south of Mull and as expected I picked up some new birds for my year list. We found about 20 Golden Plovers in a mixed flock with Lapwings and Curlews, Rooks and Jackdaw in a field near Fionnphort and a Tufted Duck on Loch Pottie. Birds we did not expect to see were 4 Razorbills, 2 Guillemots and 2 Kittiwakes on Loch Scridain, all new birds for my year list. We had brilliant views of Golden Eagles and Otters, Hen Harrier and White-tailed Eagles were also seen as were Great Northern Divers and Red Breasted Mergansers. A total of 49 bird species and 3 Mammals were seen on a very good if somewhat cold and wet day. Thanks to Jac and Mike for their company and the wildlife for their presence.
Great Northern DiverGolden Plover,
                                              Lapwing, Common Gull
RB MerganzersGolden Eagle
                                      hunts over ridge

Jan 12th
A cold wintry day with a lot of rain and wind so not much to see except Great Northern Divers, Red Breasted Mergansers and a Slavonian grebe on Loch Na Keal. We went to the Bellachroy Inn tonight with Chrissie our house Sitter and had a fantastic meal, the best meal out for some time. Thanks to Anthony, Christine and particularly the chef for such a fantastic dinner, it cheered us up no end and was just what we needed after our traumatic weekend.
Jan 11th
A day of remembering and feeling a little down, just did a bit in the garden to be close to Sally who was also missing her companion.
Jan 10th
A very sad day at Ardrioch as our older Sheltie dog Misty had a stroke and had to be put to sleep, she was 13 years old and apart from being speyed she had never had to visit a vet so it came as a bit of a shock. Those of you who met Misty would know she was a one off, did her own thing but was one of the family and Pam and I and Sally our younger Sheltie are going to miss her.
Misty in the sunMisty
                                            and hedgehogMisty
                                            and Sally
Jan 9th
A lovely day after another frost last night and Pam and I went out looking for the Iceland gull at the Knock hatchery again, this time we were successful, not only did we see the Iceland Gull but also a pair of Gadwall ducks not a bird we see too often on Mull. We went to look if there were any Barnacle Geese on Inch Kenneth and found a flock much closer on a field by the Inch Kenneth boat house. On our way home we saw a small flock of Fieldfare winter visiting Thrushes from Scandanavia. We saw 6 Otters today and my first Golden Eagle of the year. All in all a very good day out.
Otter & cubIceland Gull
Barnacle GeeseRed-breasted
                                              Merganzer
Beinn Talaidh in
                                              the snowBlackheaded Gulls

Jan 8th
Winter is here we woke up to a frost and bright sky. I went for a walk to Croig this morning and saw my first Otter of 2016, I managed to get reasonably close and was able to get a couple of photos before it went too far away although it continued fishing for some time. Before returning home to the dreaded gardening I slipped to Calgary and saw a lovely little Goldcrest, a bird I usually struggle to find but not this year. The resident pair of Song Thrushes were in attendance as was the Great Northern Diver always a nice bird to see. As I write this blog I have just come in from the garden, my back aches so do my arms and legs so I am now off for a hot radox bath, bliss.
Otter eatingOtter
Eilean Ban Croig
                                              HarbourGN Diver
Jan 7th
The mini drought broke last night with heavy rain which continued through the morning before drying up in the afternoon. I went to Tobermory before lunch to fuel the car but really to look for wildlife but due to the rain there was very little about. I saw a single male Goldeneye on the Mishnish Lochs and another on Loch Torr and the only new bird for my Mull year list was a bedraggled looking Mistle Thrush. This afternoon I spent a good deal of time in the garden hey ho no day is perfect. This evening we went out looking for Owls and did not find any, hey ho no evening is perfect, will try again soon.
Goldeneye distant
Jan 6th
Yet another dull dry day but with a strong breeze and Pam and I went to Cailaich which was somewhat dissapointing with very little about although we did see some Redwings on our way back. Ringed Plover at Calgary were my first of the year and there was a nice pair of Song Thrushes on the Calgary camp site. My other new birds for the year today were Stonechat, Wren and House Sparrows. This afternoon Pam was preparing the new Kitchen for painting and I was clearing up in the garden, not my favorite occupation but needs must as the saying goes.
Redwing on the fenceSong Thrush
Jan 5th
A lovely day if a little dull, so I went out looking for an Iceland Gull which had been seen at the Knock hatchery sewage outfalls and although I did not find the Gull I did see lots of Redshank and Turnstones there. Also seen at Knock were Black Headed Gulls with all the usual Mull species of Gull, some Teal and Goldeneye and believe it or not my first Mallards on Mull this year. Returning home via Killiechronan I saw 4 Goosanders, 3 Bar Tailed Godwits and a pair of Shelduck. In Lagganulva Bay there were at least 10 Lapwings but by this time I was in a hurry to catch the bank bus in The Bellachroy car park and not wanting trouble from the boss had to leave in a rush. At the hatchery I saw my first White-tailed Eagles of the year as two juveniles flew over scattering all the birds, great sight to see.
TurnstoneGoosander male
Jan 4th
A warmer calmer day so out I went leaving Pam mopping the kichen floors at Ardrioch before she starts cleaning the Self-catering in Inch Hame which now has a brand new Kitchen. I had a great sighting of both a male and female Hen Harrier today as well as a pair of Kestrels which seemed to be pair bonding, something to do with the Spring type weather we are having. Redwings in a field at Torloisk were a nice spot as were the Turnstones again at the same place I saw them yesterday but there were 2 Purple Sandpipers there as well today. My trip finished at Dervaig with 8 Snipe, 3 Greenshank and 2 Redshank. Stunning views today seeing the Outer Hebridies well from Reudle. When I got home Pam told me she had seen 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles, a Hen Harrier, a Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk from the kitchen window as she was mopping the floors, I think it was a case of more birding than mopping, but I must admit on days like today working is a bit of a chore. Before you all feel to sorry for Pam I had to work all afternoon on our water supply and me with an awful case of Man Flu.
Dun Assaig &
                                                Gometra
Red Deer stags
                                                on hill
Duchmans Cap
Jan 3rd
A dull but mainly dry day and Pam and I went out for an hour to see what was about and the answer was very little. As always there were plenty of Buzzards, a few Hooded Crows, Ravens and Starlings and we even saw a single Red Deer. Garden birds seen were Chaffinches, no change there, Greenfich, Goldfinch, Great and Blue Tits with a single Coal Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Dunnock and of course our hungry Rock Doves. It was around the coast that we saw our most interesting species for as well as Shags, Common, Herring and Great Black Backed Gulls we saw Curlews, Oystercatchers, and 5 Turnstones one of our favorite waders and a single Great Northern Diver In Calgary Bay.
Jan 2nd
Today we are having a dull but mainly dry day except when its raining and blowing a gale. I looked out of the kitchen window this morning and instead of seeing 2 Turtle Doves I saw 50, yes I did say 50, Rock Doves waiting on the electric wires for me to put out feed, they were to be dissapointed as I was letting the feed put out by our house sitter to be eaten before putting any new feed out. This evening we had a Tawny Owl visit our garden, they are early breeders and could soon start nest building if this warm weather persists. I hope to get out and about tomorrow and start my year list for 2016 as I am feeling better having seen off my Christmas ailments. Why do so many of us get ill at Christmas, another matter for discussion, or perhaps not.
Jan 1st
The first bird we saw on Mull this year was a Chaffinch, the second, a Chaffinch, the third a Caffinch, are you beginning to see a pattern here, yes we have a lot of Chaffinches on this island.. On the lawn today we had a continental Blackbird, the ones with the black beaks, are we getting too many foreign birds in this country, should we be getting twitchy about this situation are they taking too much bird feed from British birds and how do you stop my dogs from eating  fallen peanuts, all these serious points will be discussed on this blog during the year. Keep happy, keep reading.
January 2015
Jan 27th to 7th Feb
I have not been out for several days as I have a virus with a cough, sore throat, headaches and almost certainly have a serious case of 'man flu'.
Jan 26th
With poor weather forcast for the rest of the week I went out to Loch Buie with my good friend Alan " Mullbirds" Spellman and although we did not see much wildlife we did see both types of Mull's Deer, Red and Fallow. On our way back up Loch Spelve a small flock of Gulls flew across the road in front of us and landed on the shoreline. After scanning through them Alan's cry of Iceland Gull was proved correct as this fine Gull in the photo below was indeed a second winter Iceland Gull, my second in two days. Returning to Alan's house at Loch Don my eagle eyed friend shouted out Bullfinch, no this was not a term of abuse, but a fine example of this lovely Finch and my first on Mull this year, taking my running total to 76, nice one Alan.

Iceland Gull 2nd
                                                          winter
Jan 25th
This was a red letter day as on a trip to the sewage outfalls at the Knock Salmon hatchery we spotted a Golden Eagle it gave us great views but just too far away for a decent photograph. I had just put the camera away when Golden Eagle number two got up from its hiding place by the side of the road and flew low past us not more than 50 feet away, it was an awesome sight and one we won't forget in a hurry despite the fact that the camera had been put away, it will always remain in our minds eye. Three Otters seen today including the one in the photo below with a cut in his tail, great views of Turnstone, White-Fronted Geese and a juvenile first year Iceland Gull, on a normal day these would have been great sightings but by then we had seen that GOLDEN EAGLE.
Iceland Gull 1st winterOtter
                                                          with cut in
                                                          tail
White-fronted
                                                          Geese
Turnstone

Jan 24th
We did the RSPB big garden bird watch this morning seeing 16 species in the designated hour, typically our Treecreeper turned up a day late. We recorded 60 Chaffinches in all, 20 Rock Doves, 6 Goldfinches, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Only 1 Buzzard which was the only bird of prey seen in the garden as our Sparrowhawk seems to be giving our garden a miss at present. A walk around our wood this afternoon and the dogs put up 6 Woodcock, my first of the year.
Jan 23rd
We stayed in for most of the day but did go down to Cailaich Point in the late afternoon to see if there were any Jack Snipe about and although we saw at least 5 Common Snipe we did not find any Jack Snipe. On our way back home we had a fabulous sighting of a male Hen Harrier the forth Harrier we have seen in two days. This evening we went to the new restaurant at Ballygown with friends, a party of ten in all and had a great time as they say, good food, good company and a lot of laughs even though as designated driver I could have no beers.
Jan 22nd
The day of the big day out with Jac and Mike to the Ross with 55 bird species seen including 7 new ones for my Mull year list and 5 Mammals not including the dead washed up Whale. It was a great day despite being perishingly cold and we saw all of Mull's main species, Golden Eagles, White-tailed Sea Eagles, Hen Harrier, Red Deer and Otters. It was the male Hen Harriers which gave us the best views with one flying right in front of the van. Twite were seen at Fidden as were Rooks and Jackdaws and lots of Lapwing. Other good sightings included Great Northern Divers and a hunting Peregrine Falcon. A lovely day and thanks to Jac and Mike for their excellent company, they are coming to live on Mull in February with Jaquie leaving her job as centre manager at Leighton Moss RSPB reserverve, yes the reserve featured on the last 2 BBC Autumn watch programms, they are going to be involved in tourism on this brilliant island so look out for them in the Summer.
GN Diver
Jan 21st
I went to the tip at Tobermory today and to fill up the van for a big day out with friends tomorrow. The weather was cold but dry in Dervaig but as I reached the Mishnish Lochs I noticed they were frozen over and the skies started to darken and then it snowed. No time for birding today a quick fill up where diesel was under 1-20 for the first time in I don't know when, off to the tip and with a few slides I got back to the main Dervaig road and home where it had not snowed at all.
Jan 20th
Slightly warmer and so back at Calgary this time armed with the camera to try and photograph the Purple Sandpipers but the tide was out and I could not find any, I did however get a good photo of a Cormorant with 2 Shags showing the size differance, with Cormorant being the larger with thicker bill and the steep forhead of the Shags and the breeding diagnostic tuft on the adult Shag, the browner Shag is a juvenile. On our way home we went to Loch Cuin and I actually got a decent Photo of a Greenshank at last.
Cormorant & 2 ShagsGreenshank
Jan 19th
Still very cold and after nearly being stuck on ice a day close to home was in order and a trip to the shop in the village. At Loch Cuin we stopped as their were numerous waders in the bay, we saw 7 Snipe, Redshanks, Greenshanks, and Curlews but no sign of the Kingfisher. In the afternoon on a high tide we went to Calgary to look for Purple Sandpipers and after searching in the fading light we managed to find 2 birds and only then because they flew across from one rock to another but it is another bird for my Mull year list.
Ringed PloversSnipe
Jan 18th
A beautiful cold January day and so I went out for the afternoon looking for new birds for the year and it turned into a good day with 9 new Mull species seen in the day. The sighting of the day was a large skein of Barnacle Geese being put up by a passing juvenile White-tailed Sea Eagle, it was quite a sight. A Black Throated Diver was seen from the same spot as was my first Wren and Stonechats of the year. Other new birds of the year seen were Slavonian Grebe, Turnstone, Shelduck and a Black Guillemot. Thanks to Jaq, and Mike who shared the Geese with me and gave me some wearthers to suck, If you chew them your fillings are in great danger of falling out. On my way home I saw 2 very close Otters but the camera had been left at home. I only just made it home as the ice on the high roads made the grip very poor and I was forced to turn round on the hill road and go via the more treated Calgary road only just making it over the top at Reudle, I was very relieved when I got home.
Jan 17th
The day of the Mull bird club bird count which became a damp squid due to quite heavy overnight snow. Pam and I did a count in the garden and with a walk across the road to Loch Cuin. We managed 28 bird species and our first Otter sighting of the year which was nice and 4 Ringed Plovers also the first of the year. In the late afternoon the Great Spotted Woodpecker put in an appearance on the nut feeder and I managed to get a Photograph of it. This evening we went round to neighbours for a dinner party not getting home till late but a good time was had by all even if the girls won the trivial pursuit game.
View from Ardrioch in
                                                          the snowWoodpecker





                                                          on the nut
                                                          feeder
Jan 16th
Frost and ice prevented us from going out during the day but as it warmed up as evening approached we were able to get to the the bird club meeting in Craignure thanks to our friends who have fitted their car with winter tyres. The talk was by James Fairbairns of Sea Life Surveys who talked about the changes in Whale watching over the last 30 years. One very interesting fact about last year he told us was that the waters round the coast of Mull did not start to warm up properly until very late summer which was why we had very few sea birds and hardly any Basking Sharks were seen from Mull. Readers and guests will know that I have commented about about the lack of life on the sea last year and now we know why. The funny thing was that around Tiree, Coll and the small isles of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna the seas did warm up due to the gulf stream and bird and shark numbers were very good, it just goes to show how important the gulf stream is for British wildlife.
Jan 11th to 15th
The only thing to tell you during the last 5 days is about the weather, we have had it all. humungous gales which woke us up in the night, gallons of rain, thunder and lightening which disturbed the dogs so what it did to the wildlife I can only guess, we also had snow and hailstones as big as marbles. Road conditions have limited time out and about but I did find my first Teal of the year locally. We are enjoying the garden birds with 18 regular species it is at times like these that feeding our garden birds is vital to there survival. Pam saw 2 White-tailed Eagles flying over our wood and we have seen a few Red Deer at last. We hope that wildlife watching will improve and we can get out more over the weekend as the weather is supposed to improve. This morning I found a hibernating Hedgehog in our shed and moved it to a safer place packed with straw keep it warm and well.
Oystercatchers in a puddle
Jan 10th
Again due to the very bad weather we are having and coupled with falling trees it is difficult just to go out birding but I did manage to get out early this morning and saw 3 Tawny Owls and very little else except for a suicidal Rabbit. If any of you have a Queasy disposition I stopped the car in order for the Rabbit to escape unharmed if a little wet.
Fallen tree by the road
                                                          sideFallen
                                                          tree near
                                                          Ardrioch
Jan 9th
Wow, the gales last night were something else and although we at Ardrioch seem to have come out of it unscathed the same cannot be said of the large tree just up the road towards Dervaig which is no more. Fortunately it fell into the field and not across the road so there have been no hold ups. We took the dogs for a walk at Calgary from the car park to the pier, our old dog Misty cannot now manage a longer walk and anyway it started raining so we did not want to be out for too long. Not a lot of wildlife seen today but I managed my photo of the day the Great Black-backed Gull below. Birds of the day were 3 Great Northern Divers in Calgary Bay and a Greenshank at Dervaig.
GBB Gull Loch Cuin
Jan 8th
A mainly dry day with occassional squally hail showers and I drove over the hill road to Ulva Ferry and back home via Salen. Four more new year Mull species today including Black Headed Gull, Wigeon and a Dipper flying up the Aros river estuary. The most spectacular view of the day was a pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles flying really close but by the time I had got the camera out and picked them up in the focus lens they were flying off together into the mist.
WTE's flying into the mist
Jan 7th
Rain all day and a trip to Craignure for an appointment to see the physio. It was really annoying as because of the rain I could only concentrate on the road as Pam reeled off all the birds she was seeing and I had not yet seen this year, to make matters worse she showed no sympathy to my plight. On the way home however we had more time and I was able to add 9 more species to my Mull year list which you can check out on Arthur's Mull Bird List 2015. The highlights of the 9 new species were 25 Lapwings at Lagganulva Bay, Redwings with Song Thrushes in a field by Lagganulva Farm and Goosander in the Sound Of Mull. The waterfalls were spectacular as you would expect after the rainfall we have been getting and so we took a picture of Eas Force on our homeward journey.
Eas ForceRedwing
Jan 6th
After heavy overnight rain a pretty decent day weatherwise and a trip to Tobermory to change Pams cristmas present from me, typically I got the wrong size. I had a walk around Aros Park lake seeing the Mistle Thrush in the picture below and the Goldeneye, I do like our new camera as I now take some half decent shots. On our way home we stopped off to watch a Golden Eagle giving a flying display to anyone who wanted to watch and as there was only the 2 of us we had our own private viewing. This afternoon we saw a Yellowhammer on the garden feeders from our kitchen window making it 18 species in the garden so far this year.
Mistle ThrushGoldeneye
Jan 5th
A dull breezy day but mainly dry and a short trip out and about to look for some more new birds for my Mull year list. Birds of the day were Kestrels, this beautiful small raptor never lets me down and whenever I see them I marvel at their lovely plumage and am in awe of their arial ability. On the trip I saw my first Great Northern Diver of the year and also my first Cormorant. From the kitchen window we had a Treecreeper in the garden, another first for me this year and taking the number of garden species in the first week of the year to 17. There were some lovely sightings of Highland Cows in wonderful scenic settings, as an ex farmer it always gives me a lift seeing these cows in a setting where they seem to belong.
Highland Cattle
Jan 4th
A mainly dry but breezy day and I went out to see what was about locally and at Dervaig there was A White-Tailed Sea Eagle sitting on a rock with a Herring Gull and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls close by. On the Wader front there were Curlews, Greenshanks, Redshanks and some Snipe trying very hard not to be seen. It was lovely to be back at a favorite spot and meeting up with the birds on my patch again incuding the Mallards and Greylag Geese which seem resident here.
Greylag GeeseWTSE
                                                          Cuin
Jan 3rd
A lovely day but as we were tired after yesterdays early start we restricted ourselves to neccessary chores and watching the birds in the garden after I had gone out and filled up all the feeders. It does not take long for the word to get out and soon we were inundated with Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Great, Coal and Blue Tits, 2 Hooded Crows, Robins, Blackbirds, Dunnocks and a couple of Siskins. Our now nearly resident Buzzard put in an appearance and to make our day we had a visit from a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Jan 2nd
We returned home today from Cheshire where we had not only seen in the new year but also celebrated my dad's 90th birthday, he is a lovely man and apart from dodgy knees is in fine fettle. The journey back to Oban was very good with little traffic on the roads but due to high winds the ferries were a little erratic to say the least. We managed to get a 4pm crossing arriving home at 5-30pm and as always the dogs and house were in tip top condition thanks to Chrissie McPhail, what would we do without her.


January 2014
Jan 31st
A damp start and very windy so Mike and I went and sorted out our water supply which had a silt blockage, it doesn't now in fact it is running full tilt. Thanks to Mike, Nick and John who have all helped sort out the problem. In the afternoon after Mike and Jaquie had left Pam and I went for a short drive round and saw 21 species of birds within an hour not including the ones in our garden. The main highlights were a hunting male Hen Harrier, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Shelduck.
Jan 30th
A beautiful cold day which started with a trip to the doctors with my knee and it followed with a further trip to the hospital to have my knee exrayed. I met up with Pam and our friends at Killiechronan camp site where we saw this White-tailed sea Eagle just chilling out. Also at the camp site I saw my first Bar-tailed Godwit of the year, I was pleased to see this bird as Pam had already seen one earlier in the month. Another new bird seen for the year today was a Fieldfare in a small flock of mixed Thrushes. We saw both types of Deer found on Mull and 3 Otters and several Golden Eagles. After lunch we went and checked for Divers and saw a few Great-northern Divers but we got a very good view of the Raven seen in the picture below, you can see what an evil bird this can be by the size of it's bill. All the pictures shown below were taken today on our outing.

WTSE on beachRedshank

RavenShellducks
Jan 29th
Today we have compiled my new bird list for 2014, I have 66 bird species seen on Mull so far this year which is not too bad concidering I have not been able to get out much due to my bad leg. Today from the comfort of our office window I saw a Common Buzzard surveying my garden from the top of the electricity pole in the corner of the garden. A Dunnock which spends the day sculking under the Quince bush popped out and grabbed a few seeds when the garden got quieter between coffee break and lunch time. Most of my day was spent playing with a problem I have with our water supply, during the heavy downpours leaves have been brought down the burn and partially blocked my water pipes and I have spent the day unblocking the system. Pam facetiously asked if they were the wrong type of leaves, at the time I was not overly impressed with her sarcastic attempt at humour. Many thanks to Alan 'mullbirds' Spellman for the new banner on my bird list.
Buzzard on a poleDunnock
Jan 28th
A day out with friends Jacqui & Mike and you could say it was a fabulous day for birds of prey. We had 6 Golden Eagles and 5 White-tailed Sea Eagles but the highlight of the day were the 2 Merlins that we saw. The first Merlin was spotted sitting on a rock close to the road but just as we tried to get a photo it flew several yards away onto another rock, it proceded to do this for several stops until it landed on a rock half way up the hill and out of range to photograph. The second Merlin, brave little thing that he was, chased one of a pair of Golden Eagles we were watching and he was very persistent. At afternoon tea we saw 6 Eagles, 4 White-tail and 2 Golden, in the air together, then Mike spotted a Buzzard flying in and as we watched the Buzzard Pam saw 2 interacting Hen Harriers which gave us a great display. On the day we also saw 2 Otters, one very close feeding on a large flat fish. There were 200+ Barnacle Geese on Inch Kenneth and 50 Golden Plover at Loch Beg. A really good day out and proof that we do get some sunshine on Mull in the winter.
Otter looking at us
Otter 2Otter 3
Basalt columns
                                              Ulva FerryBen More with snow


Jan 27th
More heavy rain so Pam continued working on the new self-catering web site on the new computer, I didn't realise there were so many swear words in the English language!
A brief note of thanks to our friends Jacqui, Nick & Catherine, who are helping with colour and design. We went for a meal at the Bellachroy Inn tonight and are happy to report that the standard of the food has been maintained by the new owners.
Jan 26th
Another very wet day and we did the RSPB Garden Bird count from the comfort of our nice warm kitchen. Chaffinches were the most common bird seen with over 100 in the garden at one time, this made a fantastic spectacle when they all took off together as a Sparrowhawk flew through. Other notable numbers of birds seen were 8 Greenfinches, over 10 Goldfinches even more Siskins and good numbers of all the main Tits excluding Longtail Tits. Birds of note seen included Great spotted Woodpecker on the nuts, a Buzzard perched on the garden fence, a fly over Raven and our first Pied Wagtail of the year at Ardrioch. Mammals in the garden are an annoying Mole, several Rabbits, Field Mice and also a Vole seen by eagle-eyed Pam eating seed under the bird feeder.
Jan 25th
Today we celebrated Burn's night with our friends and neighbours and I think Robbie would have been proud with the amount of wine and whisky which was consumed  in his honour. Pam had produced a real Scottish meal for us with Cock-a-leekie soup, Haggis, neeps and tatties followed Cranacan and Raspberries. The evening was enjoyed by us all and our friends Mike and Jacquie from Leighton Moss arrived on the late ferry and the celebration continued well into the small hours. Just before they arrived Mike & Jacqui were fortunate to see the local Barn Owl on a post near the road, it is nice to know so far that it has survived the awfull wet winter.
Jan 21st to 24th
I am able to get out into the garden between the showers and tidy up ready for the new season and for all who know Ardrioch I have given the Wheeping Pear Tree it's annual prunning and it is once again looking like a giant field mushroom. The warm weather is producing early signs of Spring with Snowdrops and Primroses now flowering and daffodils showing through. I must say this must be the wettest winter we have experienced scince we moved to Ardrioch with 21 inches of rain falling in 5 weeks from just before Christmas until the 20th Jan and it shows no sign of abaiting, hopefully this means we might get a nice summer again this year, fingers and toes crossed.
Jan 20th
As Arthur is still hobbling I, Pam, went out with a couple of friends to show them a bit of winter wildlife. We managed to choose the best day of the week with only a shower at either end of the day. We saw 6 Golden Eagles, 5 White-tail Eagles, 3 Otters and 3 herds of Red Deer including Stags. Our first Golden Eagle gave us a wonderful show, soaring upwards with wings raised then pulling in it's wings it plunged down ward before soaring up again in a switchback display. Our second White-tail Eagle after sitting for sometime on a fence post, took off and flew directly towards us, flying right over our heads so my friends got some wonderful photo's. Our final pair of Golden Eagles also soared over head with more photo's for my delighted friends. Other highlights of the day were a male Goosander, a single Bar-tailed Godwit and Siskin amongst our garden birds.
WTSE in nest treeWTSE in
                                      tree
Jan 19th
Gardening nuff said
Jan 18th
The day of the Bird Club Mull bird count and several teams from all over the island go out from 9-30am to 3-00pm and see how many species of birds they can see. The winning total this year was 61 by two teams including ours. A total of 79 species were seen on a pretty wet day with highlights being all 3 species of Diver, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Greenland White-fronted Geese, Twite and Slavonian Grebe. The day finished with tea and cakes in the Coffee Pot at Salen, this is a well supported day out, competetive and informative and enjoyed by all who take part.
Jan 17th
A day with time spent gardening, not my favorite hobby but at least my knee is well enough for me to do a little work. Pam went to Bird Club tonight to hear a talk about Hen Harriers and wind turbines, I think the score was turbines 2 Harriers 0 maybe we will now see wind turbines across all hunting estates. On her way home Pam saw a Tawny Owl, I have heard them outside in the garden but have not managed to see one yet.
Jan 16th
Wow, a day without rain and a trip out after the doctor's visit, it was nice to get out and about again and make the aquaintance of the special wildlife on Mull again. We saw 4 White-tailed Sea Eagles with 3 juveniles on a Salmon carcase. A hunting Golden Eagle and a male Hen Harrier, 2 Otters, several Great Northern Diver and a single Red Deer. Only seeing 1 Red Deer seems to confirm our theory that Red Deer numbers on Mull have declined in the last 12 months.
Jan 15th
Another wet day and the electrician came to check our fire alarms which were beeping in unison like chinese water torture without the water, he partially fixed the problem but it will need further investigation to get to the root cause of the fault. I am off to the doctors with my knee injury in the morning but I am pleased to report it seems to be getting much better and I can start getting out and about once more.
Jan 14th
The driech weather continues and nothing new to report in the garden but there is change to the local landscape on Mull. At Langamull the deforestation is continuing apace and the scenery is now hardly recognisable to last summer, although it looks in places that a bomb has hit the forest it has opened up some spectacular views that was covered up by the forest pressence. An observation although not to scientific both Pam and I think that their are fewer Red Deer about in the Dervaig area which is good news for any newly planted woodland and local gardens.
Jan 13th
I climbed up to our dam this morning to check on our water supply, not to see if there was water but to check the filters, water was flowing everywhere, yes we have had the wind and rain that the rest of Britain has been enjoying this winter with more ferry cancellations than even locals who have lived here all their lives can remember. Looking at the vast amount of Chaffinches on our feeders I noticed a couple of male Siskins on the peanut feeder the first Siskins I have seen in the garden this year. Time to hobble off, will write tomorrow if I see anything worth writing about.
Jan 12th
I am sorry that there has been no blog so far this year but I hurt my Knee just before Chrismas and I am having to see the doctor regularly as it is  still very painfull. This mean I have not been able to get out wildlife watching this year as I cannot drive and walking hurts so I am struggling with cabin fever, the only good part is the weather is so awful that it doesn't encourage you to get out much. Wildlife wise I am restricted to looking at  our garden birds, the highlights so far this year have been Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreepers, a Yellowhammer and fly over Grey Heron and White-tailed Sea Eagle.
Jan 1st
Happy new year to all my blog readers.

January 2013
Jan 31st
Another damp blustery day and little to report except a really funny sighting of a pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles huddling up together behind a small rock on top of a low ridge trying to keep out of the wind. The rock was so small and they were snuggled so close together that at first I thought that there was only one bird, it was only when I got the scope on them I realized they were a pair. It reminded me of Pam and I when she gets in bed with very cold feet and snuggles up close to me, in my side of the bed.
Jan 30th
Avery windy but dry day so Pam and I decided to do a mini tour to see what we could see in half a day, in the event we saw 42 bird species and 6 mammal species. My highlights were a Bar-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel in Aros Bay and a Jay a Mull rarity in trees by the 3 boats at Salen. Also here were a large group of Wigeon looking splendid in the sunlight. On the mammal front we saw both types of Seal and 2 separate Otters. Downside of the day Pam had a brief view of a male Hen Harrier hunting a ridge line but by the time I got to a passing place it had disappeared and although we waited some time it did not reappear the dratted thing, another one up to Pam.
WhimbrelCurlew & Whimbrel (on
                                      right) to compare size
Otter leaving rock after
                                      eating a fish
WigeonRed-breasted Merganzer
Jan 29th
Up early and out and about to try and find some night birds and I got lucky seeing 2 Woodcocks and a Tawny Owl for my year list. After breakfast I washed the car and gave it its annual de-tarring which takes quite some time and took 2 bottles of tar remover before I got it clean. Battening down the hatches this afternoon in preparation for the forecasted gales.
Jan 28th
An awful day weather wise and a trip to th doctors in Salen for health checks. At the moment we don't seem to be able to go out without seeing an Otter and today was no exception, I was driving by a Loch on our way to the doc's when Pam said there is an Otter on the rocks and there it was seemingly oblivious of the poor weather. When we arrived at the doctors surgery 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles flew over the car park so even when we are not particularly looking for wildlife on Mull it seems to turn up.
Jan 27th
On a day of very wet cold wintry showers Pam and I went in search of a possible Desert Wheatear that might have been seen around the the Victorian bathing pool at Glengorm. Did we see the bird?.... NO. Did we get very wet and cold?....YES. Was it worth the effort?....Well if you don't try you would never leave the house so YES and we did take a nice picture of the bathing pool and saw 2 White-tailed Sea Eagles on our way to Glengorm flying over the car and 6 Whooper Swans on the Mishnish Lochs.
The Bathing Pool at Glen
                                      Gorm
Jan 26th
A cold but drier day and a walk with the dogs to Langamull beach brought little in the way of wildlife except for 3 Ringed Plover and some nice views. 
2 Ringed PloverLangamull Beach2 more Ringed Plover
Pam and the dogs at
                                      Langamull
Langamull forest trackLangamull felled forest

On our way back we called to see if there was anything in Calgary Bay and almost immediately saw an Otter eating a fish on a small outcrop of rock which was disappearing fast from an incoming tide.   The Otters Tale...
 
 

Otter eating fish
                                              supper
An Otter was nonchalantly eating his fish supper on a very small rock
A small wave came
when a large wave came and did its best to remove the Otter from its temporary dining table.
Otter holds tightly
                                              to the fish
Buggar thought the Otter, that was a close shave as it settled down to continue his fish supper but this time holding it tightly in his paws.
large wave comes
                                              along
 No sooner had he started eating when an even bigger wave came along and the Otter just managed to save his meal by hastily grabbing it in his mouth.
Otter fish in mouth
This isn't much fun at all he thought and grabbing the fish tightly in its mouth he left the rock
Otter leaves the
                                              rock
  just before another wave hit and started swimming with his prize towards the shore, should have done this in the first place it thought
.................. and I have to admit so did Pam and I. 
Jan 25th
The forecast was spot on with rain all day and as the temperature never rose above 3% centigrade in a strong wind it was really miserable. Talking of miserable I went to the dentist for root canal treatment, not the best way to relieve the dourness of such a miserable day. There were 3 very brave Snipe trying to make the most of truly horrendous day at Dervaig. 
Jan 24th
The last day of good weather as it is forecast to rain all day tomorrow so Pam and I took the dogs for a walk at Quinnish. On our way back there was a field full of a mixed flock of Thrushes, we seem to be seeing quite a lot at the moment including Mistle Thrushes which have apparently nose dived numbers wise in recent years. There was an Otter at Dervaig and two White-tailed Sea Eagles flew over the village in the afternoon.
Jan 23rd
Weather unchanged again it really is lovely here at the moment. I went looking for Jack Snipe again this morning with Pam at a different site, no luck I'm afraid. So this afternoon we went to try and photograph the Purple Sandpipers, tricky little thing they are hiding in the rocks but I managed one asleep which is nice but not that exciting. We had a close encounter with an Otter when we surprised each other and it was very close, I managed to get 2 photos before it disappeared but they were rubbish so wont appear on the site.
Purple Sandpiper
Arthur and telescopeLainne Sgeir Calgary
Sun setting over Treshnish
                                      headlandSetting sun over Treshnish
Jan 22nd
Weather unchanged and I went to Cailaich Point to see if I could find a Jack Snipe but there were only Common Snipe there and I counted 11  flying out of the bog. At Cailaich however there were several Thrushes and Blackbirds and I saw Song and Mistle Thrushes and Fieldfares but no Redwings plus an obliging  Grey Seal. There were 5 Purple Sandpipers at Lainne Sgeir this evening.
Mistle Thrush
Grey SealGrey Seal facing
Jan 21st
Cold, dry and breezy and I decided to go for a walk down Loch Ba to look for Snow Buntings but in the event there were no Buntings. The walk however was very pleasant and there were 12 Goldeneye and a pair of Mallards and a male Red Breasted Merganser on the Loch. In the Trees by the Loch were 3 Fieldfares and a Blackbird and a Raven flew over. At Knock Bridge where I stopped on my way to parking for the walk I saw a Dipper, one of my favorite birds and my first on Mull this year. On my way home I saw an Otter, Slavonian Grebes and a Great Northern Diver. This afternoon a Goldfinch on our feeders was another new Mull bird for the year. 
Benmore Lodge on Loch BaCattle in feeding area, Loch
                                      Ba
Loch BaLoch Ba looking towards An
                                      Cruachan
Loch Ba, tree with gallsOtter and Gull
Jan 20th 
Another cold day and Pam went out to church with our neighbour whilst I put together an article about Mull for a travel writer in Boston, Massachusetts, it took me some time as I only type with 1 finger. A Yellowhammer appeared on our feeders this afternoon another first for the year bird for my Mull year list, thanks to Pam for spotting it as I was watching the epic tennis match between Djokovic and Wawrinka at the time.
Jan 19th
Cold but dry and on my walk with Sally today a flock of 11 Whooper Swans flew right over us, a good way to start my day, as we went on a Sparrowhawk flew out of the wood in front of us before diving back in again another nice sighting. We went for a very hot sauna this evening and the plunge pool had ice on it, no we were not daft enough to jump right in although our hostess with the sauna did, I still get shivers thinking about it.
Jan 18th
Another lovely sunny day but very windy with a strong wind chill, just the weather for another bird for my list so off to Calgary and a walk to Lainne Sgeir to look for Purple Sandpipers. In the event I was lucky as 2 birds flew in just as I  as I reached the rocks but on landing the perishers scuttled off out of sight where i could not see them again. As well as the Sandpipers I also saw 4 Turnstones which did hang around long enough for a good view before they went into the same channel in the rocks as the Sandpipers before them and you guessed it of my sight, lovely mornings birding though.
Jan 17th
A lovely if cold breezy day so I went to try and add Chough to my year list and fortunately I was able to find Mull's lone bird not far from where I had seen it before Christmas. I was very relieved as it is quite a trek and my knees were not best pleased with all the hills I had to go up and down. The other notable species seen on the walk were a pair of Golden Eagles and a Raven being chased by erm A CHOUGH.
Jan 16th
We woke up to small snow flurries today and it felt perishingly cold. On a trip out I saw 4 Great Northern Divers in Calgary Bay and thanks to our neighbourhood bird watch 3 White-tailed Eagles at Dervaig, they were only around for 10 minutes so we appreciated the jungle drums. On a walk with the dogs to the Loch this afternoon there were 3 Red Deer, 1 a stag dead in the bog, an Otter in the Loch, 3 Curlews and a Greenshank.
WTSE's on Loch CuinWTSE on Loch Cuin
Jan 15th
A lovely cold, sunny winters day and a 6 mile walk with Sally which produced nothing in the way of wildlife but some nice views and much needed exercise.
The sound of Mull from Aros
                                      forest
Jan 14th
A little on the driech side but mainly dry, not a lot to report but i did see my first Sparrowhawk of the year flying through the garden. Alan Spellman came for lunch and a check on the web site, I hope you notice the change of background on the most read pages on the site,
Jan 13th
A dull day with persistent heavy showers and after yesterday we had just decided to do very little after all it was Sunday when a very kind neighbour e-mailed us to tell us of  a Whooper Swan which had just flown into the bay at Dervaig. We grabbed our coats and grabbed our hats, made the bus in seconds flat, saw the bird and even managed these photos through the rain, many thanks to Cheryl and Moira the local network working well.
Whooper Swan on Loch CuinWhooper Swan on Loch Cuin
Jan 12th
A dull, dry cold day perfect conditions for the bird club annual bird count. Off we set with John and Jo are friends and neighbours and enjoyed a really good day birding with a lot of laughs, good food and 56 bird species seen in and around our patch. The winning total on the day was 59 species and in all a combined total of 80 species seen over the weekend and day 5 more than last year. After a short rest Pam prepared an  evening meal for our friends and some other neighbours, where we shared stories from the day's birding over a glass or 2 or 3? of wine.
Kestrel on rockAfternoon sky on Mull
Jan 11th
A very wet night was followed was followed by a wet day. This evening we went to bird club where the guest speakers Alan Davies and Ruth Miller gave a really good talk on their world wide biggest twitch, when they took a year out going around the world seeing how many bird species they could see in a calendar year. They were trying to break a record of over 3600 which had stood since 1989, in the event they saw a total of over 4250 species a remarkable achievement. A cautionary tale for all would be authors, check the publishers small print on their contracts, Alan and Ruth just signed theirs and get no royalties for any books sold below 50% of publishers price and as most books about 90% are sold below this figure by Amazon they have received little in recompense for their efforts.
Jan 10th
Cold but brighter after early morning mist, I am trying to go out for a walk with our younger dog on most days now that we have returned to Mull and today it was a 4 mile walk up a forest track, very unrewarding bird wise but we did see 4 Red Deer stags and 2 hinds. On my way home I saw 2 Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Song Thrush and at Dervaig some Wigeon and 3 Snipe had joined the birds there from yesterday. Talking of yesterday I forgot to mention the White Tailed Sea Eagle that flew over Dervaig as I was checking out the waders, it just shows why birders need note books.
Jan 9th
A lovely warm  morning and I took Sally, the young dog, to Dervaig to post a letter birding as we went. A Greenshank, 3 Redshanks and a Curlew were seen at Dervaig along with Teal and Mallard Ducks some Greylag Geese and of course a Grey Heron. I also saw 5 Blackbirds which I will report to the BTO who are doing a Thrush survey this winter and it is a worthwhile exercise to do if out walking or birding, if any readers wish to help just put BTO in a search engine to see what you have to do.
Jan 8th
Travelled through the early hours and arrived home to be greeted by 2 wildly excited Shelties, although we were very tired we took them to Calgary Bay for a walk, the weather was lovely and dogs and Pam and I really enjoyed it. Pam saw a Merlin, the jammy girl, as I didn't so now I am green with envy, my turn will come.
Jan 7th
A day af recovery from the real ales before we set off back to Mull and although it is sad to say goodbye to friends we cannot wait to get home. It is also sad to read about the plight of birds after the horrible summer most of Britain has just experienced and so I do recommend if you can afford to give birds a helping hand by having a bird feeder or two in your garden. It will help them even more if occasionally you fill them with bird food.
Jan 6th
Back to Cheshire and a catch up with friends and get re-united with pubs that do great real ales, Mmmmm.
Jan 5th
 Our last day in Devon and hurrah at last my annual Cirl Bunting, I thought I might miss out on one this trip.
Jan 4th
Still in Devon and have been on a walk whilst Grandma plays nurse and managed to find some Purple Sandpipers and a Little Egret,  birds we don't often see on Mull.
Jan 3rd
We have now been visiting our Grand Children in Devon with lots of laughter, walks,  play and even a little birding for Grandpa, just what the doctor ordered a bit of normality --- Whoops the Grand children have all gone down with Chicken pox.
Jan 2nd
We are on the way to sorting the family issues now with Pam's Dad in a very nice care home, many readers will empathize with Pam as it not nice when a family member becomes not the person he or she once was and needs full time care but Pam gave her Dad a nice Christmas and with help from her brother and sister have found a nice home where they know he will be safe and well looked after and also close enough for family members to visit.
Jan 1st
Although we are still not on Mull may we both take this opportunity to wish all our guests whether on tours or self-catering or just readers of my blog a very happy New Year.


January 2012
Jan 31st
Weather rain all day, windy - Pam and I went to fetch some fodder for the new sheep this morning and despite only being out for 2 hours and in dreadful weather we saw a lot of wildlife and Pam never got out of the bus. I don't often do this but here is a list in the order we saw them-Redshank, Ringed Plover, Little Grebe, Curlew, Hooded Crow, Mute Swan, Heron, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, White-tailed Eagles, Great Northern Diver, Hen Harrier, all Mulls Gulls, Otter, Golden Eagle, Red Deer, Greylag Geese with one Pink footed Goose amongst them and a Peregrine Falcon. Who says the weather has to be good to see wildlife? (Pink footed Goose 2nd to right)
Greylag and single Pinkfooted
                                      Geese
Jan 30th
Weather dull but dry in the morning wet in the afternoon - Big garden birdwatch today with 18 species seen in the garden with 2 notable misses, the Collared Doves have disappeared maybe the Sparrowhawk has taken them and we have no Wren in the garden this winter. We did see 140 Chaffinches and 21 Greenfinches, 3 Siskins, 6 Goldfinches, a Treecreeper and a Brambling amongst the 18 species seen.
Greenfinch's and Brambling
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jan 29th Weather dull but calm and dry - 
Gardening nuff said.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jan 28th
Weather Cloudy, cold but dry - I went out for a couple of hours this afternoon and saw the male and female Goosanders seen below, the male has a dark green head with a white body which has a pinkish wash , it is a very beautiful duck usually favouring fresh water. When I was out Pam saw the Brambling again in the garden, we have not seen it for a few days and this was only a brief sighting as the Sparrowhawk flew through scattering all the birds off the feeders.

Male GooseanderGooseander pair
Jan 27th
Weather glorious sunshine, calm and cold - We went looking for a White-tail Eagle nest this morning and although we were unsuccessful we had a lovely walk. We saw lots of Red Deer and a juvenile White-tail and heard but did not see some Crossbills. Gardening again this afternoon and a neighbour delivered our new ewes 4 Cheviots and 2 Hebridean, hopefully they are in lamb, if they are they are due to start lambing in April.
Jan 26th
Weather sunny and breezy, cool - A day out with Tony and Alan mullbirds Spellman to the south of Mull today, we had a great day out with lots of laughs and 48 bird Species seen and 4 Mammals including the 4 Arctic Hares in the picture below. We saw 24 White Fronted Geese, 9 Great Northern Divers, 3 Golden Eagles 2 White-tailed Eagles and 2 Otters and a large mixed flock of Fieldfares with a few Redwings amongst them.
4 Winter HaresCurlew
Great northern DiverLapwings
Jan 25th
Weather the same as yesterday with less rain -I went out for a couple of hours today and spent 20 minutes watching a pair of Golden Eagles interacting with each other, it is great seeing natural behaviour in idyllic surroundings and it makes me feel very privileged. I did not rush today and took time out to visit .Kilninian Church and took in the views up Laggan Burn. On a less fun note Gardening again in the afternoon, does anyone have a cure for boredom, yawn!!! 
Jan 24th
Weather dull, cloudy, breezy morning with rain in the afternoon - We went down to Cailiach with Tony this morning and saw a White-tailed Eagle, it is one we have seen regularly on the island, we know this as it is wing tagged, today we noticed it had lost the tag from the left wing. We also saw this Gadwall at Cailiach an unusual Mull bird but regular in other parts of the UK. There was a Shelduck at Cailiach back on territory and the first one seen this year, 2 Grey Seals in the bay and the group of Shags seen in the picture below. Just in case there is any doubt Tony is in the picture bottom right, with that hat it is easy to become confused.
Gadwall and female MallardGreater black-backed Gull
Shags in conferenceRev Tony and his bus
Jan 23rd
Weather cloudy, dry and calm - I went for a drive today as it was dry and warm and we had the car back. The highlight was a Black Throated Diver at Salen, the first I have seen this year, there were lots of Great Northern Divers and Slavonian Grebes on Loch Na Keal as well. I saw 3 separate Otters and 3 White-tailed Eagles, a Golden Eagle and more Red Deer than I could count, another nice sighting 4 Bar-tailed Godwits at Killiechronan. It was a lovely drive and I bumped into several people for a catch up, Dave Sexton from the Rspb, Prassad from Treshnish and the Rev Tony Budell who has just arrived to spend a few days with us. Tony collects and delivers aid to the people and children who are still tragically suffering from the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster which has its 25th anniversary on the 26th March at 10.32pm. www.britishhumanitarianaid.co.uk
Jan 22nd
Weather cloudy but calm, warm and dry - We went for a walk in Tobermory today as our car has been repaired at last and we had to go in to pick it up. On our way in we saw an Otter on the Mishnish Lochs, this is the first time we have seen Otter here although we have heard of other people who have. It was very quiet on the walk with little wildlife to be seen but the dogs enjoyed all the new smells.
Jan 21st
Weather cloudy but warm and calm - I did the annual pruning of the Weeping Pear tree in the garden today one gardening job I do like as you can see a difference when the job is done, it is a bit like giving a guy with long unruly hair a short back and sides. On the bird front we had both male and female Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the garden on the peanut feeders today.
Jan 20th
Weather pleasantly sunny and warm - A great day to be out and about and where was I Gardening, lets just say I was feeling very frustrated, I hope the good weather continues, at least I saw the Brambling on the feeders  again today.
Jan 19th
Weather beautiful sunny, warm and calm - A morning spent gardening, not great in this weather and an afternoon at a tour operators meeting trying to find a solution to the parking in passing places through Glen More particularly between Craignure and the turn off for the scenic route. We are looking at putting in small short stay parking areas for 2 or 3 cars at a time in various places on the old road which runs parallel to the main road. If in doubt about how to drive on the single track roads check out the guidelines at the bottom of this blog page. I will update you as to the progress on the parking issue as their is little funding available. On a lighter note on my way to the meeting I saw 2 White-tailed Eagles and an Otter swimming with an enormous Crab in its mouth, it made me feel quite envious as I love Crab.
Jan 18th
Weather cloudy warm and calm - We went to Oban today as I had broken the frames of my glasses, so this required a trip to the big city for us, it is not something we do often but it does give us chance of a bit of sea watching on the crossing. The strange thing we saw on the crossing was an Otter out in the middle of sea half way between Mull and Oban, this Otter was the farthest away from land we had ever witnessed. There were also lots of Kittiwakes flying past the ferry as we journeyed to Oban always a nice Gull to see, they look and fly like a cross between a Gull and a Tern. It is a pity you cannot be in 2 places at once as we learned as we were watching the Otter and Kittiwakes a pod of 5 Bottle nose Dolphins were seen on the other side of the ferry.
Jan 17th
Weather cloudy, warm with the odd heavy shower - I could not put it off any longer, I had to make a start on tidying up the garden today. This involved carrying lots of branches and the remains of a tree which fell down in a late autumn gale, yes I know I should have done this long ago but gardening is just not my forte. The one thing i did learn today was I am not as fit as I used to be because at the end of the day I was Knack..... The birds in the garden were great though as I frequently needed rest breaks.
Jan 16th
Weather cloudy, warmer with showers - I went looking for birds at Cailiach Point today and dropped Pam off to walk the dogs, there was nothing unusual at Cailiach but the views as always were worth the short trip. I also had to dodge around a herd of black highland Cattle which were spread out on and either side of the road, these gorgeous animals might look fierce but they are quite gentle unless they have young calves and you have a dog, if this is the case give them a very wide berth.
Black Highland Cattle
Jan 15th
Weather cloudy, warm, wet and very windy - Not the best weather for the bird race but 17 members in 5 cars took part, in all 76 bird species were seen with Pam and I seeing 55 species in the day which luckily for us turned out to be the highest total for a vehicle. The highlights for us were 6 White-tailed Eagles, a Golden Eagle, a Hen Harrier, a Kestrel and our Sparrowhawk going through the garden, the only Sparrowhawk seen in the day. We also had our garden Brambling which  has so far evaded the Sparrowhawk, a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a Treecreeper. We found waders to be hard to see again today although we did manage Snipe at Cailiach Point. We had a very good day and everyone who took part enjoyed the day, hopefully this event will continue for many years.
Jan 14th
Weather cloudy, dull but still mild - I went out to look round the local wader spots today and was disappointed at the lack of wader species to be seen in the Dervaig area. I saw a Greenshank at Dervaig, a single Redshank at Croig, Oystercatchers and Curlews at Calgary and very little else. This is not a good omen for the bird club bird race which takes place tomorrow with Pam and I the only ones from the Dervaig area taking part.
Jan 13th
Weather same as yesterday with occasional showers - The local Sparrowhawks are having a great time in our garden at the moment, we saw them fly through several times today attacking mainly Chaffinches. Siskin numbers in the garden are climbing daily now, always a nice little bird to see. As I am writing this we noticed that a Goldfinch had fallen asleep on a branch below a seed feeder, cute or what or does it think our Sparrowhawks only take Chaffinches, a very risky strategy. 
Jan 12th
Weather cloudy but warm with little wind - A breakthrough in the Deer saga Pam saw a calf that I and the dogs disturbed it ran across our front paddock and jumped straight over our cattle grid, proof at last that this is where they get in, it will probably mean we have to put a gate in at the entrance to our drive. On a brighter note the male Brambling was back in the garden again today with all the other finches in at present, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Siskins. 
Jan 11th 
Weather cold and sunny all day but not windy - Pam went with the dogs to the bank bus in Dervaig this morning, it is great that we have a bank that comes to us and we don't have to get the car out to go to the bank and we get to give the dogs a walk at the same time. The dogs love Dervaig as they get fussed by everyone in the village. We went for a short trip out this afternoon, it was a reasonable hour spent looking for some wildlife even if there was not a lot about, just a hunting Golden Eagle, a fishing Otter, an idling Grey Seal, lots of Red Deer, yes we can find them if they are not on our land, a Great Northern Diver and finally a White-tailed Eagle going to roost. 
Jan 10th
Weather very wet but not like the unfortunate Australians so we can't complain - Pam on a walk with the dogs watched an Otter for some time and in the meantime I had to go and sort out the water supply as the particle filter tends to block during heavy rain. It can be a case of water water everywhere not a drop to drink otherwise. We still have not seen the Red Deer on the farm so the mystery continues. 
Jan 9th
Weather thawing fast after the heavy snow, it has nearly all gone already - There has been good and bad news about the car, it needs a small part transplant, not good on our pocket but not fatal on the car. We have been having the after christmas book sorting today when we decide which books go to the charity shops and which go into the self-catering and which stay in our bookcases. I did not get much help from Pam as she had a new 1000 piece jigsaw for Christmas and spends as much time as possible on that. 
Jan 8th
Weather more overnight snow and heavy snow in the early evening - We had visitors again last night but we still could not find them or how they are getting in and out, it is most odd. A local friend of ours saw them jumping over our cattle grid , which is where we thought they were getting in but there were no footprints in the snow anywhere near the cattle grid and no sign of Deer except tracks that appeared to go nowhere - The mystery deepens as does the snow. 
Jan 7th
Weather after another small dusting of snow during the night it has been a pleasant day - There is a mystery at Ardrioch at the moment, it is the case of the invisible Red Deer. As readers will know we have fenced Ardrioch to keep the Deer out but at least 2 are still here, we know this as their foot prints are in the snow, and it is rumoured that they have been seen, but not by us. We have tried tracking them, we have searched for them, we even have nightmares about them, but we cannot find the dratted creatures or where they are getting in. I will keep you updated on this particular drama as it unfolds, As we were out looking for the Deer this morning a Hen Harrier flew over the farm, as did a Sparrowhawk and we disturbed a Buzzard and as i write this there is a Tawny Owl in the garden. Log in tomorrow for the continuing saga of the invisible Deer. 
Jan 6th 
Weather more snow off and on with more wind - Replenished the bird feeders today, have any of you got Chaffinches in your gardens or do we have them all, now I know they are very beautiful but enough is enough we must have 200 in the garden at any one time at the moment, hey ho a single Brambling has turned up, for the uninitiated this is the Chaffinch of the north a fairly scarce  winter visitor here. 
Jan 5th 
Weather snow in the morning but it had all melted by the afternoon - I saw my first White-tailed Eagle of the year today sitting looking a bit disconsolate sitting on a small hill in driving sleet. Teal my favorite duck were in Aros Bay and looking particularly splendid despite the weather, other ducks seen here were a pair of Red Breasted Mergansers and some Mallards also a couple of Mute Swans. 
Jan 4th
Weather warm and damp - Pam had to go to Craignure today on bird club business so I went with her, we had travelled over 1800 miles over the Christmas period and the car had run perfectly, 20 miles on Mull and it broke down, thanks to Alan 'Mullbirds' Spellman for giving us a lift home. The car is now in Mackay's Garage in Tobermory having tests, we have not heard yet how expensive it is going to be, luckily we still have the mini bus. 
Jan 3rd
Weather beautiful from Cheshire to Argyll then snow and heavy rain - We travelled back to Mull today from family visits over Christmas and New Year and only just got through Dalmally before the road was closed because of snow. The dogs were not happy that we had left them behind and although they were pleased to see us they were also very grumpy for most of the evening. Ardrioch had not fared too badly during the very cold weather while we were away and luckily we only had one burst pipe, thanks to Chrissie and Mike for looking after everything whilst we were away. 
Jan 1st      HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR GUESTS AND FOLLOWERS OF THIS BLOG
This is the web site of Pam & Arthur Brown, Ardrioch Farm, Dervaig, Isle of Mull. PA75  6QR