Sunday 31 May 2015

Scotland 2015. Day 24 Our Last Day on Mull

Sadly today is our last day on Mull for this trip, but it is a work in progress so we shall be back.  I still need to find and photograph otters and we would love to go out to the Treshneish Islands.  We also need to climb Ben More, but the weather this morning was poor to say the least and the forecast not good.  As it happens the weather forecast got it wrong and this afternoon was not too bad at all.  Still plans were changed and we went to look for otters at Loch na Keal, yet again in vain, although I enjoyed watching the squalls sweep in down the loch, bringing torrential rain and hail for a while and then clearing to leave superb views once more..  We did get superb views of a sea eagle as well.  I had been constantly scanning the area for otters when I became aware that there was an eagle sitting on some offshore skerries, where otters had been seen yesterday.  It sat there for a while and then took off and flew down the loch towards Ben More giving wonderful views.  What a final treat!!

We finished our day with a walk through the forest and up the River Scallastle with excellent views of waterfalls and out to the Sound of Mull.

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Saturday 30 May 2015

Scotland 2015. Day 23, A Close Encounter with Sea Eagles.

The boat rocked on the gentle swell in Loch na Kreal under an unaccustomed clear sky and warm sun for this cold May.  The sea eagle, the flying barn door, left its perch on the distant Scots pine tree, by its nest containing two chicks and headed our way, gradually increasing in size in the lens like some V bomber of yesteryear.  It flew in low and, as it neared the boat, gained height, circled to pinpoint the fish and, with a flick of the tail plunged down, thrust out its talons, scooped up the prey amid a spray of crystal clear water and headed back to its young, mobbed by gulls all the way.  What a sight!  Today must rank as one of my best wildlife experiences ever: a day of sea eagle photography with Mull Charters on the small boat Lady Jayne skippered by Martin, who has been running these trips from Ulva Ferry into Loch Na Keal, Mull for several years.  We had booked for a trip last Wednesday but it had been cancelled in view of the awful weather, but we had been able to re-book for today.  We were up early and away for 8.30 to be ready to board at 9.45.  Once in position we had the amazing experience of watching and photographing three visits from these stunning birds, attracted by the fish thrown out by the crew; one fish per visit.  The eagles appear to recognise the boat and know when to make their approach.  Martin is careful to ration the fish provided so that the eagles do not come to rely on the food source and need to hunt for themselves. An added bonus was the excellent views and photo opportunities of the great northern diver on the way to the site.
Back at the site, ready for our meal at the excellent Craignure Inn we were pleased to get our first clear view of Ben Nevis with a thick covering of snow.

What a day to live in the memory banks.

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Friday 29 May 2015

SCotland 2015. Day 22, Calgary Bay

What a day; they get better.  The weather forecast was for heavy showers again, and there were a few and the were heavy, but overall it was a day of brilliant light culminating with a dramatic, moody sunset.  The plan for today was a round trip to Calgary Bay via Loch na Keal with Dervaig and Salen on the way home.  The first stop was the sea eagle nest site at Loch na Keal for more wonderful views of these magnificent birds.  Too distant for decent photography but it was brilliant top see both birds return to the nest with fish and to watch the way they shrugged off mobbing by hooded crows.  From here we continued along the coast road past Ulva Ferry with the most dramatic views of coast and island scenery: the Treshneish Island with Col and Tiree beyond.  The light was fabulous and to watch squalls blowing in and clearing was stunning.  Calgary Bay itself was the perfect white shell sand beach backed by machair and we enjoyed the cafe, gallery and sculpture trail.  A special treat was the narrow leaved helleborines we found here and the butterwort in flower on the coast path.  Arriving back at the site it was a tasy but simple tea of ravioli with a tomato sauce and then it was time to get out for the sunset; more about the views away from the sun than towards it: huge billowing storm clouds coloured pink by the setting sun.

What a day; there is only one way to complete it: a glass of malt and anticipation for the sea eagle boat trip tomorrow.

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