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Old 06-12-2008, 09:39 AM
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Trip report - Islay and Mull

My report on my trip to Shetland and the northern Highlands in late May and early June has re-appeared in recent days …..

Trip report - northern Scotland and Shetland

…. but here is a report on my trip to Islay and Mull in early November.

I like to write up illustrated reports of my wildlife trips both for my own personal record and benefit but hopefully for the enjoyment of WAB members too.

After a very enjoyable visit to Islay last November and several previous visits to the wildlife hotspot that is Mull, I promised myself a pre-Christmas trip to both islands again.

Here is a report of my trip, illustrated with my own photos (as always, please click on the thumbnails for larger images). I hope you enjoy it and that potential visitors to Islay and/or Mull gather some useful information. If anyone wants any additional information, please do contact me.

1st November 2008 – Essex to Glasgow

Unfortunately Scotland is a long way from Basildon in Essex and the motorway drag necessarily had to be encountered.

I left home mid-morning as I was stopping off in Manchester for the football and I therefore was able to travel via the “Red Kite route” i.e. the M40.

I spotted my first Red Kite by junction 2 of the M40 and then saw at least 25 more between junction 2 and junction 6. This is one of the most reliable locations to see Red Kites in southern England as it is part of The Chilterns re-introduction area. Health and safety warning …. birdwatching and motorway driving are not a particularly safe mix!

In addition, this part of the motorway provided sightings of 4 Common Buzzards, 2 Kestrels and 1 Sparrowhawk.

Old Trafford produced a fine sighting of 3 Mute Swans flying against a Manchester setting sun …. plus a 4-3 win for the English and European champions!

By the time the match had finished it was dark so nothing else was seen on the journey north to my overnight stop at Dumbarton just outside Glasgow.

2nd November 2008 – Glasgow to Islay

The day dawned very sunny, cold and frosty. After scraping the ice off the car, I was on my way on the A82 up by Loch Lomond.

I stopped at Luss to get some photos of the loch and its reflections and Ben Lomond.





Last year, I had to take a very long detour from Tarbet since the A83 route over to Inverary was blocked by a huge landslide. This time I was able to move in to west Argyll with no problem.

After the steep climb out of Arrochar, the A83 reaches the “Rest and be Thankful” summit and viewpoint. Here there was a fine view of a perfect reflection in Loch Restil.



At Inverary the A83 continues south along Loch Fyne. Whilst this loch may be world famous for its seafood, I have never found it to be particularly good for birds. However, a brief stop at Minord produced a female Common Scoter, a Heron and a Curlew.

Continuing on to Lochgilphead provided sightings of Raven, Kestrel and a Roe Deer.

The head of Loch Gilp at Lochgilphead (I wonder how this small town got its name? ) was much more interesting with large numbers of birds.

Loch Gilp sightings: c.200 Wigeon, c.10 Red-breasted Merganser, c.10 Teal, c.10 Mallard, c.10 Goldeneye, 1 Eider, c.50 Common Redshank, c.20 Curlew, c.100 Oystercatcher, 2 Heron, large numbers of Common and Black-headed Gulls and 1 Great Black-backed Gull.

Since there was plenty of time to catch the 1 p.m. ferry to Islay from Kennacraig, I decided to take a detour on the B8024 which runs down the side of the Knapdale coastline and Loch Caolisport.

A couple of stops along this route produced my first Otter sighting of the trip, swimming and fishing just offshore. I initially picked up the movement with the naked eye and was then able to gain exceptional views with my binoculars and telescope in the morning sunshine. Loch Caolisport also provided good sightings of 2 diver species and a single Whooper Swan. A very good start to my trip!

Loch Caolisport sightings: 1 Otter, 4 Common Seal, 8 Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Whooper Swan, c.20 Goldeneye, c.20 Eider, c.20 Mallard, c.10 Red-breasted Merganser, c.20 Shag, c.10 auk species, c.20 Oystercatcher, c.20 Common Redshank, c.10 Oystercatcher, c.200 mixed group of gulls including Black-headed, Common and Herring Gulls.





I reached Kennacraig from where the Islay ferry leaves with plenty of time to check in and then enjoy some remarkably warm November sunshine.





The 2 hour crossing to Islay was flat calm and this undoubtedly helped to provide some very good wildlife sightings from the outside upper deck, the highlights being the Harbour Porpoises, the Slavonian Grebes and the large numbers of divers.

Ferry sightings: 4 Harbour Porpoise (including 3 together), 1 Common Seal, 30 Great Northern Diver (including a group of 15), 10 Red-throated Diver, 2 possible Black-throated Diver, a group of 3 Slavonian Grebe, 16 Black Guillemot, 33 Guillemot, 26 Razorbill (including a group of 20), 2 juvenile Kittiwake, c.100 Eider, 1 Heron plus plenty of Shags and Herring Gulls and Red Deer on the island of Jura.

I arrived at Port Askaig on Islay at 3 p.m., most of the sunshine had disappeared and there was not much daylight left. I decided to take the short trip up to Bunnahabhain where last year I had a very close encounter with an Otter just offshore from the whisky distillery.

Otter encounter

Unfortunately this year, I had no luck with the Otter here but I did see the following.

Bunnahabhain sightings: 1 Great Northern Diver, c.20 Shag, 2 Mute Swan (it seemed strange seeing these birds swimming and feeding amongst the seaweed along the rocky shore!), 1 Common Buzzard plus small numbers of Redwing, Stonechat and Pheasant along the road to and from Bunnahabhain.

Before it finally went dark, I managed to see the following along the “high road” between Bridgend and Port Ellen. This included the 2 winter stars of Islay, the Barnacle Goose and Greenland White-fronted Goose, both of which migrate here in huge and internationally importnant numbers.

“High road” sightings: 2 very large groups of Barnacle Goose, c.30 Greenland White-fronted Goose, 6 Greylag Goose, 3 Common Buzzard and 4 Raven

Richard
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:40 AM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

3rd November 2008 – Islay – the south east and Loch Gruinart

Whilst on the island of Islay, I stayed at an excellent bed and breakfast just outside Port Ellen. The location, room, breakfast and hospitality were second to none and I would highly recommend it. I don’t think I am allowed to mention the name here but if anyone wants details then please contact me by private message. Here is the view that you get at breakfast time!



Whilst I stayed at the bed and breakfast, the owner’s bird feeders provided regular sightings of Robin, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and Blackbird and I also saw Goldcrest and Grey Wagtail close to the bungalow. The shoreline of Kilnaughton Bay produced Rock Pipit, Oystercatcher, Mallard and Hooded Crow with a Common Seal just offshore.

My first full day on Islay was generally very sunny with blue skies although it did cloud over towards late afternoon.

On my first day, I decided to start by visiting the south east and specifically the route up to Claggain Bay. Last year I saw an Otter at Claggain Bay but again unfortunately this year I had no luck.

Loch an t-Sailein sightings: 13 Common Seal, c.30 Greylag Goose, c.50 Golden Plover, c.15 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Heron, 2 Curlew

Ardlistry Bay sightings: 17 Common Seal, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Mute Swan





Kildalton sightings: 6 Red Deer hinds, c.50 Fieldfare/Redwing, c.5 Mistle Thrush, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Blackbird, 2 Raven, 2 male Pheasant, 2 Hooded Crow

Kintour sightings: 3 Red Deer stags, 3 Common Buzzard







Claggain Bay sightings: 3 Great Northern Diver, 3 Black Guillemot, 2 auk species, c.10 Shag, 1 Cormorant, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Mallard, 3 Oystercatcher, 3 Rock Dove, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Robin, Raven, 1 Common Buzzard









On the return route back from Claggain Bay to Port Ellen, I spotted a very large bird of prey flying low and towards me near the Laprohaig whisky distillery. Yes, it was my first Golden Eagle of the trip and it flew by in the field adjacent to the road, beautifully lit by the sunshine. I was so in awe that I forgot I had a camera with me!

From Port Ellen I travelled up to Loch Gruinart, the location of a RSPB reserve and working farm ….

The RSPB: Loch Gruinart

Apart from the huge numbers of wintering geese and ducks, the highlights here were a female Hen Harrier, a female Merlin and 2 Roe Deer.

Loch Gruinart sightings (reserve hide and surrounding areas): 2 Roe Deer, 1 Brown Hare, very large groups of Barnacle Goose, smaller groups of Greenland White-fronted Goose, large groups of Wigeon and Teal, small groups of Shoveler, Pintail and Mallard, 5 Whooper Swan, 1 Heron, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Curlew, c.50 Lapwing, 1 female Hen Harrier, 1 female Merlin, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel plus Hooded Crow, Jackdaw, Pheasant, Starling, Goldfinch and Wren













After visiting the RSPB reserve, I continued travelling up the west side of Loch Gruinart to where the road ends at Ardnave.

Loch Gruinart sightings: very large groups of Barnacle Goose on the sandflats and adjacent fields, 1 Common Buzzard

Ardnave Loch sightings: 18 Whooper Swan, 6 Mute Swan, c.50 Greenland White-fronted Goose, c.50 Greylag Goose, c.10 Wigeon, 2 female Goldeneye, c.10 Mallard, c.20 Tufted Duck, c.20 Teal and 1 Cormorant



On the return south to the farm at the Loch Gruinart RSPB reserve there was a fine sight of Barnacle Geese in flight against the setting sun.



The day closed with a beautiful sunset over Loch Indaal.





Richard
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:40 AM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

4th November 2008 – Islay – Loch Indaal, the Rhinns, the west and Loch Gruinart

My second full day on Islay was again generally very sunny with blue skies with more cloudy weather in the late afternoon.

I started my second day having a look at the vast Loch Indaal from the eastern shore between Bowmore and Bridgend, the highlights being single Slavonian Grebe and male Long-tailed Duck, the large flock of Scaup and the variety of waders.

Loch Indaal sightings (from east side): 1 Slavonian Grebe, c.300 Scaup, 1 male Long-tailed Duck, c.200 Wigeon, c.50 Eider, c.50 Red-breasted Merganser, c.10 Goldeneye, c.20 Mallard, 2 Shelduck, c.50 Barnacle Goose, c.10 Greylag Goose, very large numbers of Oystercatcher and Curlew, c.200 Golden Plover, c.40 Knot, c.40 Dunlin, c.20 Ringed Plover, c.10 Common Redshank, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 1 Greenshank, 2 Heron, large numbers of Black-headed, Common and Great Black-backed Gulls plus Rock Pipits on the shoreline.



Due to the bright sunshine, it was very difficult to view Loch Indaal from the western shore but the following were seen between Bridgend and Bruichladdich.

Loch Indaal sightings (from west side): c.500 Barnacle Goose, c.100 Scaup, c.20 Red-throated Diver, 9 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 2 Guillemot

A stop by the Bruichladdich distillery produced the following sightings, the highlight being Purple Sandpiper on the rocks.

Bruichladdich sightings: 2 Great Northern Diver (1 in summer plumage!), 1 Red-throated Diver, 8 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Turnstone, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Curlew, 1 Lapwing

Moving south from Bruichladdich, I noticed a group of Hooded Crows and Ravens mobbing a large bird of prey over the ridge opposite the war memorial. This turned out to be my second Golden Eagle of the trip!

The corvids eventually seemed to get bored with mobbing the seemingly oblivious Golden Eagle and I was able to watch this magnificent raptor soar and glide effortlessly for over 15 minutes. I also heard the distinctive call of Chough but was unable to spot them.





Down at the south west tip of Islay at Portnahaven, I was able to watch and photograph the very confiding seals, especially 1 Common Seal who clearly enjoyed sunbathing in the November sunshine!

Portnahaven harbour sightings: 3 Common Seal, 4 Atlantic Grey Seal













The road north from Portnahaven through the Rhinns was rather disappointing for wildlife with no hoped for Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl.

The Rhinns sightings: 6 Common Buzzards plus plenty of Ravens, Hooded Crows and Stonechats.

Joining the coast road again near Port Charlotte produced c.30 Greenland White-fronted Goose in the fields.

I stopped again by the war memorial just outside Bruichladdich. The Golden Eagle was still there, this time being mobbed by a Common Buzzard! In addition, I finally managed to spot 2 Chough plus 1 Sparrowhawk and c.20 Curlew feeding in the fields.

Arriving back at Bruichladdich, I then took the road away from Loch Indaal to visit the north west of Islay finishing the day at Loch Gruinart again. Apart from further large groups of geese, the highlight was another Chough in the dune area at Machrie Bay.

Sunderland to Rockside area sightings: c.300 Barnacle Goose, c.150 Greenland White-fronted Goose, c.30 Rock Dove, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Brown Hare (causing mayhem amongst the geese!)





Machrie/Kilchoman sightings: mixed group of Skylark, Linnet and Reed Bunting, large flock of Starling and 1 Chough.



Coull Farm-Saligo-Grulimore sightings: c.120 Golden Plover, c.100 Lapwing, c.500 mixed group of Barnacle Goose and Greenland White-fronted Goose and a separate group of c.20 Greenland White-fronted Goose

Loch Gruinart sightings (southern end): very large groups of Barnacle Goose and smaller groups of Greenland White-fronted Goose













A short detour up the minor road on the east side of Loch Gruinart was worth it to see the sun set.





Before it went completely dark, I decided to take another trip to Bunnahabhain to try again for an Otter sighting. Once more, I was unlucky but returning back to the main road, I did catch sight of a Woodcock in the car headlights. I am not quite sure what it was doing sitting in the middle of the road and as it flew off I think we were both equally surprised!

Richard
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:41 AM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

5th November 2008 – Islay – Kintra, Loch Gruinart, Loch Indaal and back to Kennacraig

This was my last day on Islay and the fine weather continued.

I started the day by taking the road over the Oa peninsula to the RSPB car park. Last year this road provided good sightings of Hen Harrier and Merlin over the moors and rough grassland but I was not so lucky on this trip. Some distant black movement in the grassland was initially intriguing until some Feral Goats revealed themselves!

The Oa sightings: 6 Feral Goat, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Stonechat, 4 Fieldfare plus several Hooded Crow and Raven

Returning back towards Port Ellen, I then took the road west towards Kintra Farm. This provided probably the largest group of Barnacle Geese of my trip feeding in a field adjacent to the farm …. until they all took to flight in a clamouring mass when a fighter plane screamed past at low level! This was an awesome sight albeit the birds were disturbed from their essential feeding.

Kintra road sightings: a huge group of Barnacle Goose, 2 small groups of Greenland White-fronted Goose, 1 male Kestrel, 1 female Sparrowhawk, 1 Common Buzzard and large numbers of Hooded Crow and Jackdaw

Before moving north, I had a quick scan of Kilnaughton Bay at Port Ellen with 3 Common Scoter being the highlight.

Kilnaughton Bay sightings: 3 female Common Scoter, c.10 Shag, 1 Oystercatcher plus several Black-headed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.

A quick stop on the east shore of Loch Indaal provided opportunities to photograph the Scaup and Eider flock and the Whooper Swans which were all close inshore.







From Bridgend, I moved on again to Loch Gruinart and started birdwatching around the farm and the bird feeders. The surrounding fields were relatively empty of birds compared with previous visits.

Loch Gruinart sightings (RSPB farm): large number of Jackdaws, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, House Sparrow

Loch Gruinart sightings (Gruinart Flats area): small groups of Barnacle Goose and White-fronted Goose, 3 Common Buzzard, 3 Rock Dove, 15 Lapwing

Movement of birds in the trees and hedges at a spot on the road up the west side of Loch Gruinart encouraged me to stop and in the space of just a few minutes a good variety of commoner birds were recorded.

Sightings: Grey Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Starling, Hooded Crow, Jackdaw

At Ardnave, the following were seen:

Ardnave Loch area sightings: c.100 Greenland White-fronted Goose (in the fields opposite the farm), 32 Whooper Swan, 9 Mute Swan, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 5 female Goldeneye, c.10 Wigeon, c.20 Tufted Duck, 1 male Common Pochard, c.10 Mallard, c.10 Teal, 1 Common Buzzard feeding on a carcass







Returning south to the head of Loch Gruinart, I then took a slight detour up the minor road which follows the eastern side of the loch. This produced a memorable sighting of a female Hen Harrier flushing and pursuing a Common Snipe.

Sightings: c.300 Barnacle Goose in 2 groups, c.30 Greenland White-fronted Goose, 1 male Sparrowhawk, 1 female Hen Harrier, 20 Reed Bunting and 3 Linnet perched on phone wires, 1 Common Snipe

A small group of c.20 Greenland White-fronted Goose on the return to the Loch Indaal road provided a final opportunity for some photos.



On the way back to pick up the ferry at Port Askaig, I had one final look over Loch Indaal which produced a final Islay highlight of 2 Slavonian Grebes.

Loch Indaal sightings (west side): c.500 Barnacle Goose on the grass adjacent to the road, 2 Slavonian Grebe, 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 6 Wigeon, 4 Red-breasted Merganser

The ferry left Port Askaig for Kennacraig at 3.30 p.m. so there was much less daylight for wildlife watching than the outward crossing. After 1 hour, a combination of gathering darkness and cold forced me inside.

Ferry sightings: 1 Heron on the rocks near the ferry terminal, 9 Great Northern Diver, 5 Black Guillemot plus several Shags and Herring and Greater Black-backed Gulls and Red Deer and a possible Golden Eagle over Jura

I arrived at Kennacraig in the dark and then travelled up to Oban for an overnight bed and breakfast stop.

Richard
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:42 AM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

6th November 2008 – Oban to Mull and a Mull circuit

Following the bright and sunny weather of Islay, the weather was obviously changing and dawned very grey in Oban although at least it was dry.

Waiting for the ferry to Craignure on Mull provided an opportunity for some wildlife watching in Oban harbour.

Oban Harbour sightings: 13 Black Guillemot, 2 Heron, c.20 Eider, 1 Common Seal



The 45 minute ferry crossing to Mull was much less productive than that to Islay but nonetheless I did have excellent views of 7 Harbour Porpoises (2 singles, 2 together and a group of 3).

Ferry sightings: 7 Harbour Porpoise, 3 Black Guillemot, 1 Guillemot, 1 Shag, 3 Cormorant plus c.40 on the rocks by Craignure Harbour





For my first day on Mull, I decided to take a clockwise circuit of the island from Craignure to Diavaig through Glen More and via Loch Scridain and Loch na Keal with detours off to Loch Don, Grasspoint and Loch Spelve.

Loch Don produced few birds as it was high tide but the bird feeders around the bungalows did produce a good variety.

Loch Don area sightings: 2 Wigeon, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Common Buzzard, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Collared Dove

The coast and rough grassland around Grasspoint at the southern entrance to Loch Don produced some excellent birds, not least an adult White-tailed Eagle perched on a small offshore rock and a hunting female Hen Harrier.

Grasspoint sightings: 1 adult White-tailed Eagle, 1 female Hen Harrier, 1 Common Buzzard, 3 Great Northern Diver (1 in summer plumage!), 2 Wigeon, 1 Mute Swan, 11 Mallard, 3 Common Redshank, 1 Heron, c.40 Cormorant, 3 Stonechat




The road around Loch Spelve to Croggan was also excellent with the first of 3 Otter sightings during my brief visit to Mull (I watched it for several minutes swimming and feeding just offshore) plus a male Hen Harrier and Peregrine flying over a ridge together.

Loch Spelve sightings: 1 Otter, 5 Red Deer, 1 male Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 6 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 4 Raven, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 3 male and 1 female Goldeneye, c.10 Red-breasted Merganser, c.10 Heron, c.10 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 5 Oystercatcher, 1 Common Snipe, 3 Cormorant, 3 Shag, flock of c.50 Fieldfare, 2 flocks each of c.50 Redwing, c.10 Rock Pipit plus small numbers of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls











Glen More is a c.10 mile route through the uplands of central southern Mull and can be very productive for birds or prey. Unfortunately I did not see any Short-eared Owls on this visit but this was more than made up for with the awesome sight of 3 Golden Eagles in the air together, at times being mobbed by 2 Peregrines!

Glen More sightings: 3 Golden Eagle, 2 Peregrine, 1 Common Buzzard, several Hooded Crow, 16 Red Deer

Following the descent from Glen More, my route followed the shore of the sea loch of Loch Scridain. This produced my second Otter sighting which started with observing it swimming and feeding just offshore.

However, it eventually became clear that it was heading towards the rocky shore and through careful stalking I managed to get within 20 feet of this wonderful mammal. It seemed to be totally oblivious to my presence as it concentrated on its meal. I could clearly hear it munching on the fish that it had brought ashore!

Needless to say, this encounter led to some brilliant photo opportunities despite some drizzly weather and very poor light.







Loch Scridain sightings: 1 Otter, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Mallard, 1 Curlew, 1 Shag, 3 Heron, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel





Continuing north from Loch Scridain, I eventually arrived at the south shore of the sea loch of Loch na Keal. Amazingly, at the eastern end of Loch na Keal, I spotted yet another Otter as it ran over the rocky shore to the sea.

I have been lucky to see many Otters on my trips to Scotland but 3 separate sightings in a single day was unprecedented! Unfortunately this third Otter was too distant and the light too poor to even attempt a photo.

Loch na Keal sightings: 1 Otter, 2 Common Seal, 2 Great Northern Diver, 9 Red-breasted Merganser, 8 Heron, c.20 Oystercatcher, 4 Curlew, 1 Grey Wagtail plus small numbers of Hooded Crow and Common, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.

A flock of c80 Greylag Geese were seen in fields at the Salen/Dervaig road junction.

Continuing west along the north shore of Loch na Keal in the gathering darkness and drizzle produced a few interesting sightings, in particular a small bat which I assume was a Pipistrelle.

Loch na Keal sightings (head of the loch near Killiechronan): 1 Heron, 1 Common Redshank, 2 Curlew, c.20 Oystercatcher, 4 Mallard, 2 Teal

Loch na Keal (north side): 2 Great Northern Diver, c.40 Greylag Goose, c.20 Red Deer, 1 possible Pipistrelle

Richard
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:42 AM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

7th November 2008 – another Mull circuit and back to Oban

My last day on Mull dawned rainy and a temporary dry period then led to torrential heavy rain for the last 2 hours or so whilst waiting for the 5 p.m. ferry back to Oban.

The clear highlight of a generally disappointing day was 2 adult White-tailed Eagles seen soaring high over Loch na Keal before flying off over the island of Eorsa towards Ben More and 2 more adult White-tailed Eagles perched in a dead tree near the Knock fish farm.

Calgary Bay sightings: 10 Oystercatcher, 3 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Common Gull

Loch na Keal sightings (north side): 2 adult White-tailed Eagle

Loch na Keal sightings (head of the loch near Killiechronan): 2 Wigeon, 1 Curlew, 5 Oystercatcher, 1 Mallard, 5 Red-breasted Merganser



Gruline sightings: 3 Fallow Deer including 1 buck moving through the woods adjacent to the road



Loch na Keal sightings (south side near Knock): 2 adult White-tailed Eagle, c.20 Teal, c.20 Mallard, 2 Heron, 1 Common Redshank, 1 Curlew, c.10 Shag, 1 Stonechat, 1 Grey Wagtail plus small numbers of Hooded Crow and Herring and Common Gulls

Loch na Keal sightings (south side to Gribun): 1 Common Seal, 10 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Mallard, 2 Heron, 8 Shag, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Raven

Loch Scridain sightings (south side): 1 Common Seal, 4 Heron, 3 Curlew, 13 Oystercatcher, c.20 Greylag Goose by Glen More junction, 2 Kestrel

Loch Scridain sightings (north side Pennyghael area): 6 Common Seal, 1 Great Northern Diver, 7 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Heron, c.20 Ringed Plover, 2 Curlew, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Turnstone, c.20 Common Gull, 1 Great Black-backed Gull

Glen More sightings: 2 Common Buzzard

Loch Don: c.50 Wigeon, 1 Mute Swan

A very rainy journey from Oban down to my overnight stop at Carlisle and an even longer journey home the next day left me to contemplate the highs and lows of my trip ....

Some closing thoughts

So that is it …. an excellent trip to the islands of Islay and Mull. Both are highly recommended for wildlife watching and I will definitely return to both islands.

Highlights

- the ferry crossing to Islay …. sea birds and sea mammals
- special island wildlife …. 95 species of bird and 10 species of mammal
- 4 Otters! …. including one close-up encounter
- 5 White-tailed Eagles!
- 5 Golden Eagles!
- thousands of wintering Barnacle and Greenland White-fronted Geese on Islay
- my B&B accommodation on Islay
- the Islay weather

Disappointments

- insufficient time to visit the island of Jura
- the weather on the last day
- heading south and returning home!

Thank you for reading.

Richard
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:45 PM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

Rich.... another enlightening diary!!!

Its really good of you to take the time to write in such detail ....what a fantastic trip you had, well worth the drive I reckon..

Thanks for the post its a great read and full of useful info!

Gess
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:47 PM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

lucky lucky lucky lucky That made my day thank you!
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:32 PM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

A good read, thanks - I do Islay every year (and Mull pretty often) at about the same time of the year and you've captured both places wonderfully well. I was on Islay the week before you and had very different weather, snow on the hills, gales, the works but it was still a wonderful trip. To anybody whose never tried it - go - it's a great island as Rich's write up well illustrates.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:07 PM
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Re: Trip report - Islay and Mull

Thank you Richard - I'm adding Islay and Mull to my list of places to visit - well in truth they've always been on my wish list - but with only so many hols in a year I keep returning to the Outer Isles secure in the knowledge that when I can no longer afford or be fit enough to take that journey on - then the inner isles are still waiting for me .............

Thanks for taking the time to write it up - its been read from cover to cover by me and I had laready drooled over your pics and my highlight out of it - well it just has to be getting 20ft off that otter - what can I say this big green grin is just that - a big green (jealous) grin One of these days ..............

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