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TonyQ

Scotland: Mainly Mull – Puffins, Predator birds… and some mammals

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Posted (edited)

No trips to Africa this year – but a trip to Scotland!

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Puffin

 

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Predator Bird

 

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One of the mammals.

 

Outline of trip

A few days based in Broughty Ferry (east coast, near Dundee).

May 26th- June 1st  Isle of Mull (based in Salen)

June 2nd- 3rd Iona

June 4th-5th   Kippford (Dumfries and Galloway) – for the Galloway Kite Trail

 

We chose the timing of the trip to give us the best chance to see Puffins. They are on the Island of Lunga (just off Mull) from mid April to early August. I had never been to Mull before (MrsQ had visited a long time ago) and I had never seen Puffins. Mull is also well known for White-tailed Eagles as well as a variety of other wildlife. @Towlersonsafariwere very helpful in sharing their knowledge of Mull, and the guidance they provided contributed greatly to our trip – so thank you.

 

Be booked the second section of the trip quite a while ago, but then we had to also visit the east coast for family reasons. We managed to fit in in some wildlife viewing in the east and then we travelled across Scotland to the west coast to visit Mull.

 

The report will not be a detailed day to day report, but I hope it will give a flavour of some of the places we visited and some of the creatures we enjoyed seeing.

Edited by TonyQ
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Posted (edited)

Part One: The East Coast

We (MrsQ  a.k.a. @Thursday’s Child) were based in an apartment in Broughty Ferry, just outside Dundee. Although our main reason for being here was family related, we did have time for a few wildlife based activities.

 

Morton Lochs, Fife

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Roe Deer (taken from the car on the track into the reserve)

 

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Buzzard

 

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Robin (baby waiting for return of parent)

 

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Pheasant

 

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Bank Vole

 

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Bank Vole

I have never seen a Bank Vole before so this was a treat.

Edited by TonyQ
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595e2f6fda17a_GreatSpottedWoodpeckerm-1.thumb.jpg.f2b2686b666c8abb57a980cdcbf41b82.jpg

Great Spotted Woodpecker

 

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Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel is the native squirrel in the UK, however it has disappeared from most of England. (I have never seen one in England but see Greys every day in our garden). The American Grey Squirrel was introduced in the 1870s. It has since has spread across most of the Red’s range. There are now an estimated 140 000 Red Squirrels (down from an estimated 3.5 million) compared to 2.5 million Greys. Red Squirrels are still found in Scotland and efforts are in place to encourage and support them.

 

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A feeder has been developed that the squirrels can access, but not birds or other creatures

 

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Posted (edited)

Balgavies Loch, Angus

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Osprey pair at nest

 

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The first time I have seen one. The nest was quite distant from the hide, but it was a good clear view.

 

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Jay

 

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Brown Rat - not a very popular mammal!

The reserve has stopped using bird feeders because the rats were accessing the food - but they haven't (yet) worked out how to open the Squirrel Feeders!

 

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Osprey

 

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Bringing in some additions to the nest.

 

Ospreys are exciting birds to watch - particularly for me seeing them for the first time!

Edited by TonyQ
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Thanks for this report @TonyQ - some really nice photos.    Nice job on the Bank Vole!

 

It's so sad that Gray Squirrels have nearly taken over the U.K. - invasive species are so bad for things even in preserved habitat...

 

 

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@TonyQ - as always excellent photography. I'm looking to seeing more given. I'm likely taking a few more of my holidays closer to home do I'm looking for ideas.

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@TonyQ I'll be heading up to Mull & Skye at the start of September. Any idea what species I might expect to see there at that time?

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Beautiful Tony, looking forward to more Puffin photos especially - love them. 

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Lovely pics. Heading towards Scottish Highlands and outer Hebrides next month.  Puffins would be gone but hope to see some of your other captures. 

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Posted (edited)

Nice! It looks like Scotland this year is as interesting as Africa! Zvezda and me will also explore Outer Hebrides, second half of August, crossing our paths with @Chakra . Maybe also with @Soukous on Skye ??

 

I can only hope some birds will cross our path; @TonyQ excellent photos will be very hard to match.

Edited by xelas
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Posted (edited)

@TonyQbeautiful photos. From Plockton up to Applecross is one of my favourite stretches of landscape in the world and the seafood ain't bad too. Puffins and red Squirrels remind me of my childhood; when there were still Puffins on Puffin Island off Angelsey and Formby was full of red squirrels (which thankfully it still is). I always hope we'll see an Osprey when we visit Porthmadog as there is a breeding pair there. Never been lucky though and so Ican  imagine what a treat it was to spot one. 

Edited by ld1
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Posted (edited)

35 minutes ago, ld1 said:

@TonyQbeautiful photos. From Plockton up to Applecross is one of my favourite stretches of landscape in the world and the seafood ain't bad too. Puffins and red Squirrels remind me of my childhood; when there were still Puffins on Puffin Island off Angelsey and Formby was full of red squirrels (which thankfully it still is). I always hope we'll see an Osprey when we visit Porthmadog as there is a breeding pair there. Never been lucky though and so Ican  imagine what a treat it was to spot one. 

Puffin Island has been cleared of rats so hopefully the Puffins will return in greater numbers in the future, in the meantime there are a few at South Stack on Anglesey. Talking of Anglesey a total cull of Grey Squirrels across the island has led to Red Squirrels re-establishing themselves in significant numbers  across the island.

 

Edited by Dave Williams
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5 hours ago, Soukous said:

@TonyQ I'll be heading up to Mull & Skye at the start of September. Any idea what species I might expect to see there at that time?

 

Peak season for Bottlenose Dolphins near Inverness which isn't too far away. Should be a few birds heading south at that time of year too.

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1 hour ago, xelas said:

Nice! It looks like Scotland this year is as interesting as Africa! Zvezda and me will also explore Outer Hebrides, second half of August, crossing our paths with @Chakra . Maybe also with @Soukous on Skye ??

 

I can only hope some birds will cross our path; @TonyQ excellent photos will be very hard to match.

 

I have asked "The Master" @Galanaabout feathery friends in Hebrides , as I was wondering whether it'd be worth lugging the big one in last week of August. 

To quote him verbatim :

" There will be birds around. From Eagles to Wrens. Late summer migrants and maybe early Autumn ones plus all the lazy ones  who have not bothered one way or another. 
I will admit to some disappointment with Lewis scenically and birdywise. It was fine but access was a problem. Loch Stiopabhat had a productive hide. The RSPB reserve near Arnol had no hide.

Nice walk up to the Harris Eagle hide produced no eagles only a Coastguard helicopter making a racket. The SE Owls are great and quite relaxed as they sit by the roadside. If you draw up and approach slowly they will often sit tight. They don't even blink when trucks roar by but somebody braking noisily will set them off." 

 

Currently RSPB Bempton cliff has reasonably good puffin show. 

 

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@Dave Williams It would be fantastic if Puffin Island returned to its former glory and thanks, I didn't know there were red squirrels on Angelsey. Are they around Newborough which is a bit like Formby with its pine forest and sand dunes.

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13 minutes ago, ld1 said:

@Dave Williams It would be fantastic if Puffin Island returned to its former glory and thanks, I didn't know there were red squirrels on Angelsey. Are they around Newborough which is a bit like Formby with its pine forest and sand dunes.

There was a stronghold in Newborough but they are in a few other places now as well, mainly along the southern end towards Bangor. They introduced some European ones to help with the gene pool so you see different shades from red to almost black.

 

Sorry to wander off topic on your excellent report @TonyQ

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Posted (edited)

@TonyQ thanks for posting this report - I am thinking of a Scotland safari for 2019 so am keen to see how this worked out for you.

 

Lovely photos, and yes puffins are a big drawcard for me too.

Edited by Treepol
typo
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Scotland is a beautiful country.  We had a couple of stops there a few years ago.  Mull and a trip to Iona.  It is charming, even without any bird sightings.  Thanks!

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Hurrah! @TonyQ i was hoping you were going to do a trip report on one of our very favourite parts of the world-well we did get married on Skye and honeymooned on Mull!  your photo's are splendid and the puffins on lunga are just wonderful. needless to say your white tailed eagle shots from the boat are much better than mine have ever been! looking forward to the rest of the report. I do not want to interfere in the report but @Soukous I can mention a couple of very good sites-well they were good in June this year- on Skye for both Eagles and indeed ottersrs if you wish that are not particularly obvious. skye always seems trickier than Mull and it is a lot busier!   without wishing to  pretend I am an expert @xelas we were in the outer hebrides 2 years ago-based in the uists and found an excellent site for otters which can be tricky and a couple of sites for Sea Eagles if that is any help

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With the current crop of great trip reports, we need to arrange an annual Safaritalk birding trip to Scotland bringing members together, perhaps even experienced birders and photographers amongst us with those less so for a bit of tuition and sharing of birding knowledge: would that be something more people would be interested in?

 

Matt

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@TonyQ

 

Lovely picture of the puffin.  Great that you saw Ospreys and nice picture of the Jay, and wonderful shots of the Red Squirrels.  We were lucky enough to see them not long ago in the Lake District where they are still holding their own against the greys.

 

Looking forward to this report and all the others to come this year from Scotland.  We live in the north of England so really must make the effort to get across the border more often.

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20 hours ago, xelas said:

Nice! It looks like Scotland this year is as interesting as Africa! Zvezda and me will also explore Outer Hebrides, second half of August, crossing our paths with @Chakra . Maybe also with @Soukous on Skye ??

 

I can only hope some birds will cross our path; @TonyQ excellent photos will be very hard to match.

Hey @xelas what are your dates for Scotland and where are you going?

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Great pictures @TonyQ

 

3 hours ago, Game Warden said:

With the current crop of great trip reports, we need to arrange an annual Safaritalk birding trip to Scotland bringing members together, perhaps even experienced birders and photographers amongst us with those less so for a bit of tuition and sharing of birding knowledge: would that be something more people would be interested in?

 

Matt

I would love to be able to attend!

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1 hour ago, Soukous said:

Hey @xelas what are your dates for Scotland and where are you going?

 

Arriving Scotland 13th of August, Mull 14 - 18, Outer Hebrides 19 - 30, Skye 31 - 2nd Sep, departing Scotland on 3rd Sep. Will cross path with Chakra on Lewis. Any chance to meet you ??

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4 hours ago, Game Warden said:

With the current crop of great trip reports, we need to arrange an annual Safaritalk birding trip to Scotland bringing members together, perhaps even experienced birders and photographers amongst us with those less so for a bit of tuition and sharing of birding knowledge: would that be something more people would be interested in?

 

Matt

 Count us in ... only do plan at least two years in advance :o! But for a week, we can always fly there and away almost last moment specially if puffins will be around :D.

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