Monday, 30 December 2013


If anybody has been checking this blog throughout the year then there is no need for me to go through the highlights, mainly because there have been too many. 2013 was an amazing year of birding for me on patch, in the county and further afield. Thanks again to everybody who has made it such as good year I hope to see you all in the future.

2014 has a lot to live up to

Happy new year!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Mull 2013, Part 3: Don't mention Ivory Gulls

Thursday 5th, after the 96mph winds during the night, a light covering of snow was a welcome change. Whilst having breakfast a Woodcock fed in the garden foraging in the undergrowth next to the wall. More activity was in the garden as a Raven cronked from a tree under the window and a Ringtail Hen Harrier flew through the valley opposite.

Most of the day was spend on the cliffs between Treshnish Point and Calgary Bay. One of my favourite sites of the week were the abundance of Hooded Crows. There were plenty of the beaches and shorelines as they dropped shells onto rocks from a height. After being caught in a snow storm that forced us to shelter for half and hour we made it back to the car in time to see a male Hen Harrier close in as it quartered a coastal field. As we left we even got to see the phenomenon that is the reverse waterfall.

Friday 6th, more stunning snowy scenery back at Loch Na Keal. Extended views of feeding Otters once again on the rocks and a few Goosander of the Loch. Another WT Eagle swooped over the car near Killiechronan, Fallow Deer in the woods and a WT Eagle chasing Salmon through a stream near Loch Ba made for a great ending to an amazing trip.

Saturday 7th, whilst stuffing my face with deep fried Black Pudding and chips, news of the Ivory Gulls came through. Unable to get back before dark we mad the best of the day and visited the William Wallace monument at Stirling instead. Oh well at least we won at Old Trafford, that made things slightly better :)

Winter is coming

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Mull 2013, Part 2: gets you through

Tuesday 3rd Loch Begg was revisited. This time a ringtail Hen Harrier was hunting near the car. Amazing. On our way back from the pub at Tobermorey we spotted three Whooper Swans on Mishnish Lochs. With Dervaig reed beds only a few minutes away from the cottage we decided to spend the rest of the daylight seeing what came in to roost. Unfortunately nothing turned up but it is a great sight. With a cloudless sky we headed up to the radio masts near Tobermorey. Whilst the opthers timelapsed I spent the evening looking to the darkest sky I have ever seen. The greenish glow of the northern lights flickered in the distance, shooting starts passed over and two moons of Jupiter were visible. The Milky Way was also an incredible sight. On our journey to the masts four separate Barn owls flew form fence posts and one bird was hovering like a ghost near the masts.
Wednesday 4th and our furthest journey of the week to Iona ferry terminal. A stunning Hen Harrier flew over the road near the terminal and later on a Ringtail flew even closer. Best ever views of these amazing creatures just a shame I have to go to Mull to see them. The farmland near the Iona terminal had attracted a flock of 120+ Barnacle Geese and we had more good views of WT Eagles over the roads near Loch Na Keal.
Gets you through

Man make fire

Near Dervaig

The season finale will soon follow…

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Mull 2013, Part one: To freedom!

From Saturday 30th until Saturday 7th I spent the week on the Isle of Mull with Cain, Ewan, Andrew and Ciara.  The trip got off to a good start as we spotted at least three Waxwing south of services on M74 near Uddington outside Hamilton. One of the Waxwings flew over the road bridge and did some aerial acrobatics before joining the others in the trees.
A brief and welcome stop at the Green Welly Stop and for more potato based products at Fort William, we were on the island by dusk. After checking in at our cottage for the week near Dervaig, we had a drive around the local roads. Not surprisingly Tawny Owl were on fence posts and Red Deer roamed the roadsides but a sign of how mild the weather was took the form of a Hedgehog that was wandering around the middle of the road.

Sunday the 1st we spent most of the day around the shores of Loch Na Keal. On our way we called into Salen Bay where a winter plumage Great Northern Diver was just off shore where it wrestled with a crab for about ten minutes.  It was great to see this species close up for a change rather than a distant blob on the sea off Stag Rocks.  Plenty of gulls though no white wingers were around the fish factory. Occasionally they would all take to the air before re-landing, we soon noticed why. A juvenile White Tailed Eagle was sitting on a fence post near the factory. Its amazing how such a massive bird can stay so well hidden. The eagle eventually took off, flew past us and landed on a rocky outcrop just offshore.
Also on the Loch were a group of five Slavonian Grebe, Black Guillemot, more close in Great Northern Divers and very entertaining displaying groups of Red Breasted Merganser. We watched as three or four males made a variety of noises and head movements towards unimpressed females.
Next we headed over to Loch Buie where another White Tailed Eagle flew over the Loch. The Bay just past the Loch was impressive complete with an honesty shop that sold Guinness crisps, honest! Feral Goats climbed over the rocks near the bay and Woodcock swooped in front of the car as we headed back.  In the darkness on a road near Salen I had my best ever views of a Tawny Owl as it stared down at us from a roadside wire.

Monday 2nd we started again at Loch Na Keal. A pair of Shoveler were amongst a flock of Teal in the middle of the Loch, it turns out that these were unbelievably only the second record for the Isle! Surely there must have been more.
At the nearby Killiechronnan as we left, a Golden Eagle was being mobbed overhead by Hooded Crows and Buzzard. A pair of White Tailed Eagles were also circling a plantation as we headed to Loch Scridian. An Otter preformed well on the shores of Loch Scridian and whilst we watched a Long Tailed Duck landed on the water after flying from further inland.
Loch Begg was our final stop of the day as light disappeared. A lone Greenshank and 124 Golden plover were the best waders at this attractive spot.

More to come soon... and pictures!