Monday, 14 May 2012


May 11
After one of Kathy's excellent breakfasts - she keeps her own hens down on the shore so the scrambled eggs are delicious - Arthur picked us up at the bridge. Already full with the other six passengers, we sat in the front for the first session. He wanted to get to the Loch site for White-tailed Eagle early so took the Salen road first. 

Our first stop, roadside looking over the Sound of Mull, took our breath away, literally. It was extremely windy and rather cold, the sea jumping with white horses. We hastened to the northern shore of Loch na Keil, just as windy and cold but excellent views of a White-tailed Eagle flying out to the Lady Jane (Eagle feeding boat), viewable in the distance, warmed hearts. As did a Peregrine, coming at us like a fighter plane, zooming overhead.
Two Ravens, kronking furiously, flew out to intercept the eagle. Arthur says if Ravens call fast and furious, there's an eagle about.

Here comes the first of the furious pair........
Although Arthur doesn't approve of the eagle feeding, it's obviously very useful to know when the boat arrives !
The south shore of Loch na Keil was warm and almost windless. Arthur's forecast was that if we arrived by 12, the Golden Eagle nest change would take place between then and 1.00 and we'd get flight views. And so it happened..........Later, an immature White-tailed Eagle also appeared.
Ben More had a fresh overnight topping of gleaming snow. (Mull is the only island to have a Munro, A says Skye doesn't count as it has a bridge! What does the Channel Tunnel make the UK?). A camera stop for everyone.

Ben Mor 0n the right, across Loch na Keal. Snow top not visible in the photo.
Calgary Bay with its almost deserted white shell-sand beach and Caribbean blue water, as spectacular as ever. It's reached via a high road corner, the view below producing stunned gasps of surprise. The back of the bay is classic machair (pronounced macca I discovered), only found in a few of the Hebridean islands. Looks like short grazed grass to me. Spectacular views of Coll and Tiree to the west, great visibility to-day.
The high moor outside Dervaig is classic Hen Harrier territory. One duly - and confusingly - appeared. Confusing because it looked like a female ringtail but was displaying. Arthur said that it was an immature male, one of which has previously been known to breed successfully on the island. You live and learn......
The surprise was a Red Grouse flying across the road into the heather, as we turned round. A Mull tick for us. The area around has been fenced off - private grant, not Forestry - keeping sheep and deer out has enabled the heather to grow, a probable reason for the increase in grouse sightings.
I'd read in the Mull Bird Report that Caliach Point, on the north west coast,  is the best sea watching site on Mull. That's where we stopped after several miles of very pot-holed track. The sea was spectacular. We didn't walk to the Point itself, we viewed from the small parking area where Arthur was amazed to find two other vehicles. He is used to having it to himself. We saw Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets, Shags, battalions of Kittiwakes and regular Manx Shearwaters, all hugging the waves as they battled the wind. Boy, was it cold!
Another go at the high moorland road, hoping for Short-eared Owl. No luck, the bright sunshine we'd enjoyed all day made the evening too light for them to be about early.
An excellent day. The other tour members were friendly, enthusiastic and perfect day companions. Arthur was as knowledgeable, humourous and pleasant a leader as one could wish for.
The food must be mentioned, everything home-made by wife Pam. Three choices of biscuit mid morning, delicious veg soup and four different sandwiches at lunch, three different cakes mid afternoon. Waw, she must spend a lot of her time cooking. All delicious too.
I highly recommend this tour.
We'd like to spend more than two nights in Dervaig, how can we fit it all in?

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