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TonyQ

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

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On 21/07/2017 at 0:00 PM, TonyQ said:

“The journey is the destination”

 

With single-carriage roads all over Scotland, that can be the new marketing slogan! 

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Posted (edited)

@Towlersonsafari

Thank you. We went with a guide called Peter (because we could do a private day tour in a smaller vehicle) and he was fine. I forgot to mention that we also saw a male Hen Harrier with him (dreadful photo!)

@michael-ibk  thank you - we were excited to see otters

@xnegvx thank you

@Kitsafari thank you. There a number of B&B options, a few hotels and some self catering. The cottage we originally wanted was already booked quite a number of months in advance.

@xelas  - should work well!

Edited by TonyQ

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Posted (edited)

Puffins (+)

In this section I will look at our trip to Lunga (one of theTreshnish Isles to the west of Mull)  to see Puffins. Puffins live here from mid-April to early August. Three companies (I think) run boat trips to Lunga. One goes from the far south west of Mull and so would mean a long drive. One goes from Tobermory in the north and another from Ulva Ferry in the west. Either of these can be reached from Salen in a short drive.

 

We regularly checked the weather forecasts – expecting rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon – so we booked the trip from Ulva Ferry because it went in the afternoon. https://www.turusmara.com/

5979c59d98208_Landscapelm-1.jpg.15162891698556c79ebde1fe0a828709.jpg

Ulva Ferry

 

The boat trip is very pleasant, stopping at Staffa for about an hour to see Fingal’s Cave and some sea birds (including some distant Puffins) and then on to Lunga to see the Puffins. The landing is on a rocky beach, and you walk up a steep path to the towards the top of cliffs, and then you smile……

5979c5cdc6e67_Puffinrm-10.jpg.74aea28120372ab3efc8d0463341a1ac.jpg

 

There are thousands of Puffins and they appear to be completely indifferent to human presence.

5979c5e842d5c_Puffinrm-2.jpg.a3d5848631eef2446b4c61e740a505f2.jpg

 

5979c5f577983_Puffinrm-1.jpg.e356053692f7b3ec280f3f608b044dd5.jpg

 

5979c619bb185_Puffinrm-5.thumb.jpg.2fcd85cd53ee6d96fb3690a6dcc6d979.jpg

 

5979c62c5ea5b_Puffinrm-6.jpg.510cb07d46c1ae71c6f75f0766b840ec.jpg

 

We were advised to look at the Puffins briefly, then walk further on to see other seabirds and then return to spend time with the Puffins. We did this, but in fact there were lots of Puffins all along the cliff tops. (And I will return with some more Puffin photos later...)

Edited by TonyQ
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Posted (edited)

Guillemots

We could hear the Guillemots well before we could see them!

 

 

 

 

5979c8203c77d_Guillemotlm-3.jpg.35dfd937c8b7fd644823c04d95ad2e21.jpg

 

5979c827b9351_Guillemotlm-1.jpg.443324e32d99920a05d16ba41c690c77.jpg

 

5979c830a2eab_Guillemotlm-2.jpg.0b12afa85025bc88f4072d4f7fe47b72.jpg

 

The sight of so many birds, the noise, and the smell was amazing.

Edited by TonyQ
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reading your trip report has made me realise its been too long since we were on Mull-so have booked for next Easter! @TonyQ  the lunga puffins are quite difficult to believe until you actually see how close they are!i

@Kitsafari there is quite a lot of self catering cottages but they do get booked up for the May/June periods-i was looking  last week for May/June 2018 and most are booked up already. April  and September/October or even the winter are all good though for otters and Eagles!

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Razorbills

5979ca28078de_Razorbilllm-1.thumb.jpg.b36294a3e6fa700fba6fb83d7b12837f.jpg

Again incredibly close and not bothered by people

5979ca335ad8d_Razorbilllm-2.jpg.62d465f73acc65f70c1fd096c89ccd2c.jpg

 

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Courtship behaviour

 

5979ca4e98eb5_Razorbilllm-4.jpg.bd7c364c29ac27f565991eb70bde7e93.jpg

 

And a rabbit

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– unusually dark I thought (I will return to rabbit colouration when we get to Iona later in the report)

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The real surprise to me was seeing the Shag in their breeding plumage. I had only seen them fairly distantly as generally black birds, but here they were stunning.

5979cba7e18e9_Shaglm-1.thumb.jpg.c35ad516da519e870ab14cc8f1a6f131.jpg

 

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Nesting (taken at 400mm so as not to disturb them - but they didn't seem very bothered)

 

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Seeing these beautiful birds so well was an unexpected treat.

 

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Great Skua flies overhead.

 

5979ccaeaeb26_Wrenlm-1.jpg.792a0374af9ea8b88a2c2936add2f672.jpg

And a Wren surprisingly in the open

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Returning to the Puffins

5979cd0ccb129_Puffinrm-3.jpg.3959118857f5739557a24dbfb7a8149d.jpg

 

5979cd124ce5f_Puffinrm-4.jpg.37bf899cde206c76e3ae7308d1605499.jpg

 

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5979cd513e748_Puffinrm-8.jpg.77132bab3105c9fc56643fd8bb6b5c4b.jpg

 

5979cd6395322_Puffinrm-11.jpg.0ddbbbdcb802b7ace4e1eb249ea53d3e.jpg

 

5979cd740aff9_Puffinrm-12.jpg.6be223142aeb6e3b7e73461618857dd7.jpg

 

5979cd82a5cf6_Puffinrm-13.jpg.64efa88cb9d343b00b2f68926e03e309.jpg

 

 

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Posted (edited)

And all too soon it is time for the boat trip back (tip: try to get a place outside on the boat – there are not enough outside seats for everyone, but it is possible to stand). This trip had about an hour on Staffa and 2 hours on Lunga. On some days they run a longer “Big Bird” trip which gives about 4 hours on Lunga – if we were going again we would certainly consider that option as it was a wonderful experience. There were still wildlife to see on the journey back.

5979ce2be5d6e_GreySeallm-1.jpg.7ce4e928f98cf2e84a51b244468a5649.jpg

Grey Seal

5979ce3434fca_GreySeallm-2.jpg.92fa303b67770c936639afdde6f6f661.jpg

 

5979ce4728c35_White-tailedEaglelm-1.jpg.d263a3e1db1c4f7e629e87bc0808f86e.jpg

White-tailed Eagle

As we got close to Ulva Ferry, the captain took the boat close to the island of Ulva where we were delighted to get good views of this White-tailed Eagle

 

5979ce50b4ee3_Landscapelm-2.jpg.cf57cdd057bedeaf7025872cb2c6d297.jpg

Back to Ulva Ferry

 

Apologies if there is Puffin overload, but as you might guess, we loved it!

 

Edited by TonyQ
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No need to apologize, Tony, I love the Puffins (and all the others) as well, such a wonderful time you could spend with all these seabirds!

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Posted (edited)

Ahhhh, I am so "green mode" right now :ph34r:, @TonyQ !

 

We will stay 4 nights on Mull, from 14th Aug on. I know puffins are gone by now, but are there still other birds, like razorbills, on Lunga?

 

And please do add as much details as possible about your birding on Mull!

Edited by xelas
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@Towlersonsafari

We look forward to hearing about your trip to Mull!

@michael-ibk thank you

@xelas  I am not sure what birds remain on Lunga. I think the Razorbills will have gone off to sea. Boat trips that are run at that time in August seem to spend less time on Lunga, and some do not go at all, so I suspect there would not be many birds there then (but I am not expert!). I will put some birding information in, but I recommend to you a small book that @Towlersonsafari  recommended to us

"Birdwatching on Mull and Iona: A Pocket Guide with Maps Paperback – 6 Dec 2010

by David Sexton (Author), Philip Snow (Illustrator)" (£4.99 on Amazon in the UK).  It is very useful in giving information on where to look for birds so well worth getting if you can get it where you live.

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Thanks for reply and for the idea! Amazon delivers to Slovenia but we don't have enough time. Maybe we will find used copy on Mull??

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Hello @xelas if @TonyQ does not mind here is a list of the breeding birds that are on lunga-and the Treshnish Isles-from  the website of the main operator-it has got a note of how long they are there for

Common Guillemot April - end July6000

Puffin April - 1st wk Aug3000

Razorbill April - 3rd wk July700

Kittiwake May - Aug 600-1000

Fulmar May - Aug400 - 600

Shag May-3rd wk July (nests)100 - 250

Greater B Backed Gull May - Aug300 - 400

Herring Gull May - Aug200

Artic tern May - Aug80

Black Guillemot May - Aug70

Lesser B Backed Gull May - Aug40

Common Tern May - Aug5

Common Gull May - Aug5

Great Skua May - Aug1

 

so sadly you will miss them-the book is available on mull and there is a similar book for the Outer Hebrides.Where I think you said you were going as well-sounds like a fun trip!

 

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Those photos of the puffin were right out of a photography book cover! Their colours are so vibrant and such adorable birds.

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@Towlersonsafari thank you, that is a very useful list

@Kitsafari thank you - they are lovely birds and it is great to get so close to them!

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A drive to Lochbuie

 

A lovely day, slowly driving to Lochbuie in the south of the island, stopping at lochs, scanning hills and generally relaxing. First we drove to Grasspoint.

597b5ff92635d_Buzzardlm-1.jpg.40e769967f8d7c548dc13786c8b41e28.jpg

Buzzard

We were told that Buzzards are the most common birds of prey on the island. They are often confused (by tourists) with Golden Eagles. They are much smaller, but size can be difficult to determine if they are high overhead.

 

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Stonechat – we saw a number of these in this area

 

Back on the “main” road

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Red Deer at the side of the road.

 

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Then on the small road heading to Lochbuie

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Fallow Deer (probably captive but not sure!)

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Lochbuie is a lovely place

597b60f52e2d5_PostOfficelm-1.jpg.9c3d3bd78e1eba8fa0ef11bdd035ca12.jpg

Here, the old Post Office had been turned into a shop/café. When we were there – but was operating on an honesty system. You make yourself a cup of coffee, buy a snack and put your money in an honesty box. I think sometimes it is staffed.

 

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The Chaffinch are very used to people and will be keen to share your food.

 

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Sheep on the beach

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With castle

 

We also saw a number of Wheatears, Gannets and a distant pair of Red-throated Divers.

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As we headed back towards Salen

597b61ac18740_RingedPloverlm-1.jpg.2707337e7a6318b49c381cd4930d8ada.jpg

Ringed Plover (we also saw another distant otter in this loch.

 

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White-tailed Eagle being mobbed by Hooded Crows - great to see the eagle in flight

 

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Another Red Deer

 

The light was fading a little, We saw a small group using binoculars and long lenses, scanning from a parking spot. We pulled in and were very excited to see

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Short-eared owl, crossing the ground hunting. This was the first time I have seen one of these birds. A real treat.

597b61e1ebefa_Short-earedOwllm-2.jpg.9bbfd22983e9b7615a6f82d4910e517f.jpg

 

We headed back towards Salen as we had a meal booked at the very good Meditteranea restaurant. But we still had time to see another red deer by the side of the road to round off a great day.

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Posted (edited)

How nice you saw one of the 140 000 Red Squirrels.  Such adorable ear tufts.  The jay, with understated blue under the wings is lovely.

Sheep on the beach with a castle, a Scottish triple play!  You scored with the puffins.

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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Wonderful day @TonyQ  you only need Merlin now for a Mull full house of birds of prey!.We just love watching hoodies and ravens mobbing eagles.The Fallow deer are wild and you have achieved better views of them in your first trip than we ever have

 

 

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Posted (edited)

those fallow deer in the "garden" is such a pretty pretty romantic idyllic picture! that is what UK's (i can't say England since it is Scotland!!) gardens will always be for me - those the lovely deer with the shimmering coats looking lovely among the wildflowers. when it isn't raining, of course.....

Edited by Kitsafari
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@Atravelynn

Thank you

@Towlersonsafari  thank you - and pleasing to know the Fallow Deer were wild. I forgot to say earlier that we did have coffee and cake at the COffee Pot (about 1 minute walk from where we were staying!). It was very good. No merlin, but we did see a kestrel.

@Kitsafari  thank you. Rain?  in Scotland?  surely not;)

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White-tailed Eagle

This is the UK’s largest bird of prey. It was made extinct in the UK in the early 20th century by illegal killing and possibly overfishing. It has now been reintroduced in Scotland. It is believed there are about 35-40 breeding pairs – so still a very small poulation.

 

The RSPB run a couple of hides called “Eagle Watch” to give a chance to see the birds on the nest. We went to one of these but the weather was very wet and it was very difficult to see anything.

 

On the same day we had booked a boat trip with Mull Charters in the afternoon.  http://www.mullcharters.com/

The boat takes a maximum of 12 passengers, and has plenty of room for that number. The weather still didn’t look great, but we thought we would make the best of it. This is a trip where the crew throw a fish out to the water, attracting the eagle. The company works with the RSPB to carry out the trips responsibly. When reading about it I had mixed feelings, but the trip was recommended to us by @towlersonsafari and I am glad we followed their advice as we really enjoyed it.  Some people will not like that a fish is thrown out for the eagle but we thought the trip was well run with consideration for the eagles and other wildlife seen.

 

When the boat set out, it had to change route because the sea was rough in some areas. We had light rain but it did not stop the enjoyment.

 

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Black Guillemot

 

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Gulls following the boat

 

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Gannet

 

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White-tailed Eagle on Cliff

 

At this point, one of the crew threw a fish into the water, but there was no response from the Eagle. A little later, they threw another fish, and the Eagle took off and started heading towards the boat. (I think that once an Eagle takes a fish that they do not then give any more to that bird, but move on to another site. I think this is so that it remains as supplementary feeding rather than the birds becoming dependent on them)

 

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Being harrased by a Hooded Crow

 

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598059b8cea78_WTEaglebm-5.thumb.jpg.c8b8ad794a7c3c2ce9f95b746a2977e0.jpg

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Posted (edited)

59805b17d4beb_WTEaglebm-6.jpg.7d5b3267ab8924bd84197dd9f13cf875.jpg

 

59805b1f91618_WTEaglebm-7.jpg.2c5cfc2051d94104c73a9800ad9a0fd7.jpg

 

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The Eagle flew in, scooped up the fish and was immediately mobbed by a gull sensing some easy food

 

59805b3b20a88_WTEaglebm-9.jpg.5385219ed47faf98ad3f01a41b9d0cdb.jpg

But it held on to the fish

 

59805b473ae41_WTEaglebm-10.jpg.22a668f6750476d409100debf87a1328.jpg

and took it to the cliff-side nest (bad photo in poor light, but if you look hard you can just make out the other Eagle on the nest)

Edited by TonyQ
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