Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw - a working day on Mull

When I was asked if I'd consider going up to the Isle of Mull to undertake a habitat survey I immediately jumped at the opportunity even though it was only going to be a day visit and would involve two full days of driving. It was just one of those jobs I couldn't possibly turn down. We stayed in Oban for two nights and traveled over to Mull on the earliest ferry and back to Oban on the latest ferry to give us as much time as possible on the island.

Whilst travelling across Mull today we came across this magnificent immature white-tailed eagle eating a lamb on the moors below A Mhaol Mhor. At first it was harassed  by a buzzard and some ravens, but after a while the lambs mother appeared and walked around watching the eagle and eventually walked straight towards it and caused the bird to fly. Unfortunately the lamb was already dead and half eaten and well past the point of rescue and the eagle flew off with it in its claws to finish off its meal. It's hard to know if the eagle had killed the lamb or if it had just come across the animal already dead, but I guess that it hadn't been dead long if the behaviour of the mother was anything to go by.

There were several breeding plumage great northern divers around the coast, particularly at Fionnphort  and Loch na Beal. These really are stunning birds in summer plumage and it just goes to show that black and white birds can be every bit as spectacular as more colourful birds.

More black and white birds, we saw black guillemots at Loch na Beal and from Iona.

I was actually on Mull working, but it's hard not to have one eye on the wildlife, especially when birds such as this white-tailed eagle fly overhead during your habitat survey.

Ben More

There were masses of bluebells covering vast swathes of the lower hills, and scattered in amongst them were wood anemone and lesser celandine.

Turquoise seas and white sand beaches are a feature of Iona which is a very different island to Mull.  Mull sits comfortably as one of the Inner Hebrides, alongside islands such as Skye and Rhum, whilst Iona is clearly a member of the Outer Hebrides and more akin to Barra and the Uists. As if to prove the point, Corncrakes hardly occur on Mull yet on Iona they are common.

There was a corncrake calling just below the abbey, but even though it was obviously moving around we didn't see it.

I love the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries.

On Tuesday evening I watched the Champions League semi-final, Liverpool v Barcelona in the Aulay's Bar, Oban.

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