Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday 29th September. Its a hard life being a rutting Stag!

A very cloudy start to the day yesterday as we made our journey to collect the days guests. On arrival we met a happy go luck group all keen to explore Mull and the great outdoors.

Heading off our first sighting of the morning A White Tailed Eagle overhead i think the Greylag Geese flying in total panic helped us there!.

If the birds go up suddenly its a matter of looking around 360 degrees and finding the predator in the sky.

There it was gliding across towards us and the Geese heading in the opposite direction. Sometimes i wonder what if must feel like being an eagle you walk in the room and everyone else walks out!

Great sightings of x2 Hen harrier before we left great to see them a bit scarce this year. Flying across a loch instead of grassland for a change.

We moved on and spotted a Grey Seal in the shallows as well as Common seals and loads of  Herons yes they really are everywhere.

Coffee and Biscuits came next as we discussed the finer points of life and a host of various interesting subjects.

A single Merlin was next on the menu and we captured a brief glimpse of one which took off from a nearby rock as we passed.

After finishing too many biscuits again! i drove our group along the lochside and we quickly spotted our first Otter of the day. Great views diving and fishing, two of our guests had only seen a brief glimpse of a live Otter once before so glad we could put that right.

Our next spot a Golden Eagle flying across the cliff face distant views i must admit and cant say it danced for us, it didnt and we lost sight as it glided over the ridge.

A few moments laters we were busy in discussion Corvids was the topic and talking about Ravens and how clever they are when a local Raven peformed an upside down display for us. Almost shouting out look how clever i am!

Next up a large group of Hinds below us a relatively large group for Mull and i am sure this number of hinds will be guarded very shortly with an impressive stag. A small upright stag was present but nothing majestic and no signs yet of an impressive Autumn Stag moving in.

They havent quite warmed up yet although some stags have started roaring the hormones havent peaked and they are not in full flow.

Odd groups around with 3-4 Spring stags always happens in early rut. Later as time moves on a dominant Stag generally moves in and will not tolerate any young pretenders around his girls!

Lunchtime stop and views of Curlew, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Oystercatcher and Redshank. Heron another Common Seal floating around in the bay.

Throwing in a few Buzzards the list was growing by the second.

The guests were in wildlife spotting mode and all eyes again scanned the loch looking for more intimate views of Otters.

Just had a hunch that the tide was perfect and i wanted to go back over the ground we had just covered once more.

Yes over there x3 Otters rolling playing around on an exposed weedy rock just offshore brilliant views. Suddenly the telescope was busy and suddenly the guests turned into digiscoping mode using their cameras and some real innovative methods of taking a few snaps through the scope.

Sometimes Otters appear like magic!

Quite impressed as i didnt have a digiscoping adapter with me.

Delighted with great views of Otters we moved in search of more Eagles didn't take long to find our local female perched in a favourite place and both telescope and live screen gave excellent images.

Then a few minutes later on cue we had x2 WTSE overhead and an adult perfomed a fantastic low level display for us to the gasps and wow sounds around me.

We moved through the glen looking for more Golden Eagles and sad to report that we couldn't find any. No birds flying and a systematic search of the area we couldnt find a perched eagle either.

Last Stop a well know rutting stand and an impressive sight of around 35 Hinds and 4-5 stags again smaller but no real signs of aggression and activity. The stags looked quite happy with each others company.

The Rut is a game of stamina and fitness i think they are just drawing breath before the long month ahead.

They hardly sleep, feed and certainly only have one thing on their minds.

Staggering how a well conditioned stag can enter at the start of October and at the end of October has lost a considerable amount of weight and well looks completely knackered.

Well it was a great day and we all enjoyed ourselves the wildlife sightings made up for the grey sky which shrouded us for most of the day.


Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday September 20th 2010 Wow that was just amazing!

Today i made my way past the local loch all was very quiet no cars no people. I spotted the local Otters swimming together they seemed to be enjoying themselves too!.

Slowed down but never intended to stop. Then something caught my eye yes a White Tailed Heading straight towards me.

Well i had to stop and have a closer look. The Otters carried on Swimming and fishing and one of them surfaced with a nice fish to eat!.

The White-Tailed headed closer and then closer and then a stoop Wow!. The Otters Both dived the Eagle turned and circled.

Otters Popped up and again in came the Eagle. I had heard about this behaviour before but never managed to see it for myself.

The Eagle tried three times in vain to take the Otters prize but the Otters won the day.

Reckon the cub must have said what was all that about Mum!

The Otters came straight into the shore with their prize and just vanished.

The White Tailed Landed on a near by rock and stayed observing the scene. I think we both wondered how two Otters vanished into thin air!

Well after 5-10 mins the Eagle gave up and gently took off and flew back across the loch.

It was all over in a few minutes but what a spectacle and one i will remember forever !.

Guess i just got lucky!

Local Mull Otters Close Bond.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

September 18th When is a Buzzard not a Buzzard!

During the last few days at various locations my binoculars have been trained on the sky when a little voice says but how can you tell if its a Buzzard or Sea-Eagle, they all look the same to me!

Well heres my attempt just for you Gary.

I know when they are just tiny dots in the sky its difficult but there are differences some of which i have pointed out below.

Buzzards really do have a different wing profile than WTSE.

Autumn is very much here shorter days combined with colder evenings.

Even the Bracken looks nice with different colous brightening the landscape.

Not really a Bracken lover, It spreads rapidly, Harbours the ticks that bite me, Cuts my hands when i try to pull it up, and produces Carcinogenic spores yuk hate the stuff.

Not sure if Bracken or Midges are my least favourite   hmmmm   No i will go for Midges although a valuable food supply for the rest of the food chain.

Cant we develop a new strain which cant bite!

Exhibit 1 White Tailed Sea-Eagle in Profile.

Long Protruding Head
Very Rectangular wing. (Deep)
Distinct Saw Toothed trailing edge.
Long Fingers.
Short White Tail

Glides on very flat wings.

Wingspan  2.0-2.45m

Common Buzzard.

Buzzard Dark wrist patches.
Narrower Wing.
Short Head.
Soars with Raised wings.
Wedge shaped tail.

Wingspan 1.13m-1.28m

Greylag Geese grazing on Mull.

The numbers of Greylag Geese seem to increase  by the year.

Should we be worried i will let you ponder!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

15th September 2010 Mixed Bag!

Well its been a mixed bag here on Mull.

Yesterday it rained for nearly 24 hours and eventually stopped.

The rivers in spate and the waterfalls are just stunning after rainfall like that!

Just the other morning after taking a look at the Mull Birds website

 I just could not help myself an Opsrey had been recorded fishing on Lochdon for a period of around 9-10 days.

Met check warned me of the heavy rain to come so i just had to get up there and check it out!.

Might be my only chance.

At 6.00am i left avoiding the Red Deer which always want to cross the road in front of you.

On arrival the light was terrible but then over my head came the Osprey couldnt have hoped for better timing.

The bird prospected the loch for a few minutes turning and putting on a magnificant display for me!.

Must say i was very chuffed!.

The Tide was very full and not ideal for a hunting Osprey and it headed off in a southeast direction towards Grasspoint and Loch Spelve.

Alan commented that the bird has now probably left for Africa and i had these thoughts also with the bad weather quickly approaching.

So i saw my Osprey and said goodbye from all of us good luck my freind and have a safe flight.

Its Websites like Mull Birds that provide up to date information on sightings and give us all the chance and pleasure of seeing these magnificant birds.

The Smaller spring stags are starting to find their voices i heard a few murmers the last couple of days.

The rut is rapidly approaching and groups of hinds are starting to occupy areas.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tuesday 7th September 2010. Singing in the Rain!

Well the brief spell of hot summer has come to an abrupt end.

The last couple of days here on Mull have been very windy and today showers which were very heavy at times.

Some of the local swallows have left us and we wish them well on their journey to Africa wouldnt mind a trip myself!

Loch Scridain tide and gathering wind.

The Red Deer hinds are starting to gather. I spotted a group of around 35 grazing today.

Wont be long before the younger Spring stags start paying attention and hanging around.

Enjoy their time while it lasts the bigger stags wont be interested for another 2-3 weeks.

But when they do they certainly wont accept the advances of smaller Spring stags laying claim to their patch and the youngsters will be sent packing!

Great day for Eagles today during the cloudy spells their was lots of action in the skies and around the island had sightings of WTSE, Goldies and a magnificant Peregrine falcon one of my favourites.

Otters resting after fishing the Loch.
The Local Otters have provided excellent viewing and well rain they just carry on as normal.

Had to laugh today came across a photographer stood in the road and he kept turning and looking from one side to the other.

I just had to ask him what he was doing!.

The trouble with Mull he added there's WTSE up there and on the other side an Otter sat on the rocks i never know which way to look next!

Curlew Loch Spelve.

Glad to say he managed good views of both subjects.

A few nice Curlew at Loch Spelve and a nice group of Oystercatchers around 20 in number.

Reports of Common dolphins in loch Scridain last few days.

I consider myself unlucky with Dolphin sightings i have to admit.

Well lets go pack up the van a taking a group out tommorrow on another exciting wildlife Tour of Mull.

I love my job because you never quite know whats round the next corner.

Latest news an Osprey has been spotted fishing around Lochdon, last few days on an incoming tide so if your around that area lookout!

Cant wait!

Michael Leigh-Mallory

Mull In Focus.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Friday September 3rd 2010 Tropical Weather pour me a cocktail!

The Last few days here on Mull have been simply stunning. Sunshine ,Sunshine and well more Sunshine.
Oban yesterday not a million miles away recorded the highest temperature in the UK.

The swallows are starting to gather on the telegraph wires and i think just sitting around enjoying the sunshine.

I feel however that when this lovely spell of weather breaks most will be packing their bags and heading off to even more sunshine elsewhere.

Swallow Copyright Michael Leigh-Mallory 2010.
Lots of the birds around the island are moulting and tend to hide away just that little bit more.

John had a nice sighting of an Otter fishing in one of the freshwater lochs on a journey up to Craignure just the other day.

The Otters are so versatile and we are fortunate to have good numbers on the island.

Speckled wood Butterflies, Peacocks and a sighting of the Red Admiral this week.

The Mull stags are now wandering alone having split from the batchelor herds that are found earlier in the year.

Their Manes more pronounced and are busy gathering a breath before the Rut begins!.

Hormones building they change from a docile creature into something very different!

The Evening light and some spectacular sunsets are the order of the day at present. Down on the Ross of Mull they are particuarly special.

River Cauldoir settling after spate. Michael Leigh-Mallory Copyright 2010.

Hoping to unpack my fishing rod at some point very soon.

Theres nothing quite like a fishing session to relax the mind and cleanse the soul,

And sometimes you might even catch supper!

Thistle symbol of Scotland.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wednesday 1st September 2010 Eagle Feast!

At 6.00am this morning i heard the sound of raindrops falling on the roof.

Ahhh no i thought not a horrible miserable rainy day, thats not what Met check said, my trusted weather provider.

Well by 8.00am the cloudbase was high and the rain well a past memory.

A busy day tour ahead a full bus x8 guests all wanting their taste of Mull Wildlife.

So what did they want Eagles and Eagles seemed to be the main theme so Eagles it was!.

Our first stop was very lucky i must admit. As we scanned the shoreline i was busy telling our guests all about the Sea -Eagle program when all suddenly every bird in the district took to the air.

A flock of Greylags had also taken to the air around 60-70 and the noise was just electric, well amazing.

We scanned and picked up the problems WTSE hunting the shore and heading back to the safety of the conifers.

Is that a pet Eagle you have trained to do this a guest commented!.

A perfect example of luck combined with right place and right time i added.

Nice sightings of the usual Oystercatchers and a couple of nice Curlew, Common Gull and the frantic views of flying Geese.

The Guests busy at work.

The next few stops were very quiet to be honest with not a lot to report so i worried the guests with rockfall stories and a quick stop at Tragedy Rock a well know landmark on the island.

A quick stop for coffee and Tea we moved on the nest spot. Wheatear numbers have fallen away during the last week the next stop was buzzing with them but today empty.

Stonechat, Pair Red Throated divers but very distant views.

I always feel a touch of sadness saying goodbye to some of our migrants.

See you again next year!

Around the corner we stopped and scanned the cliffs nothing much to report.

Then a mile down the road the fun began. It started with the sighting of an overhead eagle so we stopped pulled off the road for a closer look.

Then 7 or 8 Ravens then another Eagle it was all happening.

I assume there must have been a carcass somewhere over the ridge and the Ravens didnt seem happy about giving it up!

Then turning behind us a juvenile WTSE and just 25 feet above our heads. We certainly didnt need binoculars for that one.

Then the Guests shouted Eagle and x2 Adult WTSE joined in the fun the Ravens tried to intercept them providing an excellent aerial display.

Then another guest shouted Eagles and we had just been joined by a pair of Goldies.

We had at this moment in time 3 WTSE in the air and 2 Goldies and a whole bunch of Ravens it was chaos.

Everyone struggled to keep up with the action. Best Eagle display i have seen for ages.

Calming down we took lunch and headed for Otters. All very quiet then a voice shouted is that one!

Yes it  was but there was a photographer on the shore and then i spotted another Tour operator watching this Otter from further down the road.

Being fair i wasnt going to pull over get out with x8 people and spoil it for them.

We pulled in further down the road and at least the guests got distant views of the Otter as it fished its way out of sight.

A good day a real Eagle Feast but lacking on our bird species count. It was very quiet everywhere birdwise today in our usual haunts.

Mull In Focus.