Monday, 23 May 2011


The picture above is of Ben More. It's the highest mountain on Mull and it's height of 3,169 feet, qualifies it as a munro. This is the only munro on a scottish island apart from on the Isle of Skye. Carol and I climbed Ben More a couple of years ago, it was a bit of a slog but the views were fantastic and thankfully there wasn't any snow then. There isn't usually any at this time of year and the snow this time has actually fallen since we've been here. Just another example of the extreme weather that has beset us since our arrival.
We've now been here for ten days and as yet, we haven't had a rain free one. Most of the time we've met the challenge of the elements head on, but saturday was absolutely horrendous and we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and hunkered down in the cottage and waited for it to pass. Except it didn't really and after a slightly better, but very windy day yesterday (sunday), We are again virtually housebound due to torrential rain and an absolute hoolie blowing. We did manage to get to Tobermory for some provisions, stopping on the way to watch the Fishnish Lochs (three freshwater lochs), which were whipped up to an absolute frenzy, with sea sized waves crashing to the shore and sheets of spray lifted from the surface and carried along on the gale force wind. Tobermory, although the capital of Mull, is only small, as is it's harbour, which is usually home to a mix of fishing boats and small private craft of various shapes and sizes. Today though, we were surprised to see two Hebridean cruise ships, one alongside the pier and the other anchored just inside the harbour. These two ships have come here seeking safe haven from the forecast 70 to 80 mph winds today. We returned from Tober via the small town of Salen and as we crossed over from there to Dervaig, we were stopped by a motorist who told us that the two roads south from Dervaig were both closed due to fallen trees. Luckily our route avoided these roads and we arrived home without incident. Exciting stuff!

On friday we paid a visit to the Island of Ulva. At approximately eight square miles and a population of around a dozen people, it hardly gets busy. The island is reached by a small, on demand passenger ferry, which takes just a few minutes to cross the narrow stretch of water that separates it from Mull. An island, off an island, off an island you might say. We managed to do a reasonable walk without too much weather interference, apart from a particularly vicious hailstorm just before we got back the the ferry.

As usual it was windy, but the birds didn't seem to mind it, they're probably used to it now. Even the Swallows seemed OK about it, although they did seem to spend more time than ususal perched on the rocks, as above. We also inadvertently disturbed three or four perched Buzzards on the way round, but they seemed to be less inclined to fly very far though, just taking off as they spotted us and flying low to the next suitably undisturbed spot.

As ever, the Willow Warblers were top singers, their song of descending notes has accompanied us constantly this week and here, some even chose to leave the privacy of their leafy refuge and give us more than the usual quick glimpse. This particular chap didn't even seem to mind being roughed up by the wind while he posed for me.

Treecreepers, Coal Tits, Lesser Redpoll, Mistle Thrush, House Martin, Sand Martin, Robins, Dunnocks and parachuting Meadow Pipits were just some of the many species seen on our walk. Back at the jetty, a pair of Black Guillemots dived and a small flock of Eider ducks (two pictured below) flew past, low over the water looking very smart in a brief moment of sunlight.

Our drive back to Drevaig took us through the tiny hamlet of Knock, where we were lucky enough to see some Fallow Deer. I say lucky because as far as I know there are only a couple of small herds of these on Mull, the Red Deer being much more common. On the way down to Ulva we stopped for a few minutes alongside a stream near Torloisk because I thought I'd caught a glimpse of a Dipper. We couldn't find it but on the way back Carol spotted a pair in the same place, we stopped again and I tried to get a picture but there was no way that they would let me get close enough. I did get a couple of shots but they don't do such a nice bird any justice so I won't publish them.

We're still constantly on the look out for a Golden Eagle, but to no avail so far. It's not usually this hard, time's running out! I was going to tell you about our day yesterday (sunday), but we just temporarily lost power in the cottage and it now sounds like the roof is about to fly off, so i'll catch up tomorrow hopefully!


Warren Baker said...

I was going to moan about the wind on my post for today Phil, but reading your post makes the wind here seem like a gentle wisp :-)

Great wildlife your seeing up there !

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Hope you two are not amongst those who have lost power today , and that your roof remains intact .
I know you say that you don't go there for the weather , but , is just one good day too much to ask ?
Glad you're still able to get out and see some wildlife .

Phil said...

Go ahead, have your moan, I would have done:-)

We lost power twice but only for a very short time. The roof, so far seems intact. Having just seen the local forecast, it's clear that things are going to remain bad for the rest of the week. If we can get a ferry, we may surrender, re-group and try again in September. You can't win them all!

ShySongbird said...

Oh my! I thought the wind was bad here but it really sounds nasty there. What a shame, you have tried to be so upbeat but I see from your reply to Greenie that things are getting a bit too much now. Do make sure you both stay safe.

Lovely photos today, my favourites are the second Willow Warbler and the deer.

Bob Bushell said...

Poor you, every day there is rain. Looking out of the cars window can be very nice.

Enda said...

fantastic photography on this site

JOHN SHARP said...