We got back from our annual pilgrimage to The Isle of Mull on sunday afternoon. The memories of a great week, with great company, and in good weather are still fresh in my mind. Unfortunately, so are my midge bites. I reckon I had about seventy(ish) bites in all, that's one for every species of birds that we recorded during our stay, not a bad tally, of birds that is not bites. May is usually pretty much free from the 'wee beasties' but this year they were out in force. Maybe the mild winter and the calm weather are to blame.
Of course no trip to Mull would be complete without a boat trip to the Treshnish Isles. Sailing out of the tiny harbour at Ulva, stopping first to marvel at the geological architecture of Fingal's cave on the Isle of Staffa and then on to the island of Lunga to watch the sea birds is an absolute delight.
When I say sea birds I really mean the Puffins. These utterly enchanting birds return each Spring to the Treshnish Isles and Lunga in particular to breed and what a fantastic sight they make.
They nest in burrows, often disused Rabbit burrows along the cliff edges and sometimes in hollows beneath rocks. At this time of year they can often be seen carrying grass and other materials in their colourful bills to line their nests with.
It's easy to dismiss the sometimes used phrase of 'Puffin therapy' as a tourist gimmick. But there's no denying the smiles on everyones face as they clear the steep steps to the top of the cliffs and see the 'welcoming commitee' on the grassy slopes in front of them.
It's not just Puffins though. Here are some of the other species seen on the island.
Guillemots, above and below.
Shags, who nest under the rocks alongside the path and hiss and clack their beaks if you venture too close.
Wheatears. Dad above and juvenile below. This is the first time i've seen juvenile Wheatears, just as well the parents were in attendance as I wouldn't have recognised what I was looking at!
Grey Seals, which were hauled out on the rocks all around the island (and all around Mull), this one was pretty chilled compared to his mates who took to the water as soon as the boat appeared, they must have been pretty chilled too judging by the water temperature.
And finally some Gannets. Probably my favourite sea bird, apart from Puffins of course.