Tuesday, 17 May 2011


After an overnight stop at Dumbarton, we arrived at our cottage in the small village of Dervaig, on the Isle of Mull, on saturday afternoon. Soon after arriving, the rain began. Thankfully, it drew breath for a while today, but is now showing us what it can do when it really tries up here. As I type this, the view to the hills, over the reedbeds in front of the cottage, and the sea loch to the side, are completely shrouded by low cloud and rain. You don't come here for the weather, that's for sure.

Yesterday, despite the rain, we walked to the RSPB eagle watch hide and back, along the shore of Loch Frisa, a total of about seven miles. En route we were treated to a great view of fantastic male Hen Harrier, not a bird we see very often, that's for sure. We hoped to catch a sight of the Loch's resident White tailed Eagles. Unfortunately, the bad weather meant that the Eagles stayed landed and all we really saw were Common Sandpipers along the loch edges, Red-breasted Mergansers diving further out, and a couple of Cuckoos calling from the hills behind, where a single Raven 'cronked' past in the gloom. We also heard from another walker that sadly, the Eagles' nest had failed for the second year running, it's such a shame that there will be no Sea Eagle chicks again this year at beautiful Loch Frisa.

However, there are other Sea Eagles on the island, indeed ten chicks were successfully fledged last year. Today, we managed to find at least two, possibly three, Sea Eagles at the eastern end of Loch Na Keal. We were lucky enough to see one of them circle the loch a couple of times in the distance and at one time watched two of them circling together above the forest, where they were constantly mobbed by Buzzards and Hooded Crows, an interesting chance to compare sizes. These are stunning creatures with a wingspan of up to nine feet and I was disappointed that I couldn't get a picture, but I haven't given up yet.

From Loch Na Keal, we drove to Loch Ba, a freshwater loch where there are often Golden Eagles to be seen. A lochside walk gave us Treecreepers, Redstarts, Mergansers, Pied Wagtails (pictured above), loads more Common Sandpipers, Coal Tit, a Willow Warbler in every tree, as there is everywhere up here and loads of cows, so many in fact that Carol has now changed it's name from Loch Ba to Loch Moo. But no Golden Eagles, you can't win them all, there is no doubt at all that Goldies will make the list soon, weather permitting.

Otters of course are everybody's favourite up here, but they can be hard to find. So we were really excited to see two on the way from Loch Moo to Loch Beg. We think they were mother and cub and when we first watched them together it was hard not to think that they were just playing together as they swam and dived among the kelp just off the shoreline. The picture above is of the cub, we think, with maybe a butterfish and Mum in the background. Don't forget, you can left click for a closer view.

For a while the adult seemed to disappear and the youngster (above), sat on the rock calling plaintively. We both commented that it almost looked like a bear in this picture.

We spent a long time watching these two and they didn't seem at all bothered by our and by now, others' presence on the road above them. They are superb animals and it's so obvious when you see them, just how well adapted they are to their own environment. It's just a shame that the light wasn't better for picture taking, but nevertheless it was great just to be able to see them. We were also lucky enough to find a third, probable dog Otter when we got to Loch Beg, which was a bit too distant for decent pics. Today was a typical, jam packed Isle of Mull wildlife day, which left us exhausted. But not too exhausted to walk up to the local Inn, the oldest on Mull, just three hundred yards up the road. In the rain. Cheers


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Hope yourself and Carol don't get too rusty during your stay .
Great shots of the Otters , what a great find and a privelege to see .
Hope you enjoyed your meal , and managed to find your way home .

Bob Bushell said...

Hi Phil, we stopped in a cottage not far from Dervaig, it was very pleasant.I'm very pleased for you, seeing the White-tailed Sea Eagle, it was too much longer that for my camera, good luck with the weather Phil.

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, Well done with the Sea Eagles, magnificent birds and with the Otters, brilliant, we were there probably 20 years ago just for a day or two, unfortunately didn't find either but it would be great to go back one day. Enjoy the rest of your stay.

Marianne said...

Fantastic Otter pics! Hope the weather picks up for you and you get those Goldie sightings. Most amused by 'Loch Moo' :)

Warren Baker said...

WT Eagles! Wow! Must be quite something to see them up soaring :-) Enjoy the rest of your holiday Phil

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
So you did decide to take your laptop with you. Great idea, nice to keep up to date with what you are up to. Are you sure Carol isn't making these loch names up:-)
I expect to see some flying barn door photo's really soon.
PS. Have a couple single malts on me as I am quite partial to it myself:-)
Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

ShySongbird said...

Glad you are back in the place you love Phil, it sounds wonderful! The WT Eagles sound spectacular...nine foot wingspan wow!!

Lovely to see the Otters, it must have been fascinating to watch them, great photos too. My first thought was that in one it looked like a bear before I saw your words ;)

I hope the weather is kinder to you both soon :)