Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Wildlife on Mull

I have never seen a White-tailed Sea Eagle so when we visited the Isle of Mull in June (here’s my first Mull blog) I was hopeful of seeing this incredible bird with its eight-foot wingspan.

For Fen and me, this was our first visit to the Isle of Mull. The rest of the family group, also enthusiastic lovers of birds, wildlife and the natural world, had visited several times, and had a good idea where we might spot the Sea Eagle, as well as Golden Eagle and otters to name but a few of the isle’s wild residents.

Sure enough, within a couple of days of being on Mull, we were fortunate to spot not one but three White-tailed Sea Eagles. One was perched in the tall tree tops set back by the side of Loch na Keal. Alas, my camera wasn’t powerful enough to gain a clear image but I’m posting the pic anyway to mark my first sighting of one of Mull’s most famous birds.

Shortly after this memorable sighting, and a little further along Loch na Keal, we saw a playful otter enjoying a post-meal stretch in the evening light.

There are plenty of deer on the island.

And there are highland coos, too, plus one or two wanderers that like to roam at will along the isle’s roads. (Remember to drive carefully!)

Hooded crows were the most dominant of the corvid family on Mull. Apart from wren, robin, and a lone rabbit, the hooded crows were among the first to appear in the morning looking for breakfast treats.

As the fourth largest of Scotland’s islands with almost 300 miles of coast line, Mull offers a diverse habitat for its resident and visiting wildlife.

We had far distant views of seals bobbing playfully in the sea. Perhaps we’ll go on a wildlife boat tour next time to spot Minke whales, porpoises and dolphins in the waters around Mull.

We had a fantastic view from the holiday house overlooking the isle of Ulva.

But the best place to see wildlife is while out and about. On our walks, we saw plenty of pipits, pied wagtail, waders and gulls but very few butterflies despite fields full of foxgloves.

Mull is also renowned for its population of Golden Eagles. Many a time, upon seeing a large bird soaring over the scree slopes and ridges or perched on a tree branch, we were hopeful of it being a golden eagle but mostly they proved to be large buzzards such as these two…

On our last couple of days on Mull, we did finally see Golden Eagle gliding over the cliffs on the opposite shore of Loch na Keal. Too far away to capture the moment on my camera but it was an unforgettable sight.

We logged around 100 species of bird sightings for the entire trip (the numbers helped by a northbound visit to RSPB Leighton Moss on the first day of our travels). Of this tally, we saw about 35 species of birds on Mull out of a possible 250 known to visit the isle, and the rest were spotted on Iona and on the mainland while travelling.

As for my favourite sighting on Mull? Each and every one was wonderful. Of course, it’s always an extra special moment to see a creature you’ve never seen first-hand before. So I’ll particularly remember Mull for my first sight of the White-tail Sea Eagles.

I’ll leave you with my little video clip of the otter…