Sunday, 6 May 2012

Eagle Day

May 6
Our first full day on Mull did not disappoint. Breakfast at 7.30 , joined by a woman from N.E. USA on a sabbatical, visiting Iona then on to Lindisfarne, and a couple from Canada with some Scottish ancestry. Interesting.....they had a stereotype American breakfast too. Pancakes, fruit, bacon and maple syrup. John said that they were at the end of their trip and probably fed up with the full Scottish.
As I walked out to the car, not until 10.00 after a leisurely start, our first Cuckoo called from across the stream. First stop Fidden (pronounced Fidgen), a couple of miles along a road two houses up from the B and B. A dead end - at Knockvelogen farm yard , it's twtty.
The road follows the sea most of the way with some beautiful sandy coves, lichen clad rocks and sheepfields dotted with gambolling or sleeping lambs. Still quite small here. Stonechats and Wheatears are frequent as are the ubiquitous Meadow Pipits and Willow Warblers. On the return journey, a Peregrine arrowed across the road causing consternation and panic to the small birds. They fled in scattered clouds. A single Buzzard loafed about as we struggled to ID anything on the shore, the tide was so low and the heat haze shimmering.
We did have good views of two Golden Eagles through the  sun roof, soaring higher and higher above us, a few miles along the 'main' road.

The turning for Uisken (Ooshkin) is immediately before the small hamlet of Bunessan, a single track very bumpy road down to a lovely bay. Bank holiday Sunday was not a good day to choose. The tiny car parking space at the end was full, containing about 8 cars, people and dogs and kids all over the bay. Another day... We did hear, and briefly see, a Lesser Whitethroat in a stunted willow patch but, there wasn't a pull off so we couldn't linger.
The crag and forest we were aiming for can be seen across Loch Scridain - but it's miles around, past Penn y Ghael Post office. Three Great Northern Divers on the Loch, no waders again apart from Common Sandpipers and Oystercatchers. The Oyks are everywhere with so many Grey Herons, we must have seen 20+ to-day.
A quick chat with Brian Raines out with his birding group of the day and off to the rough, rocky, corner pull-off from which a White-tailed Eagle nest can be distantly viewed. Once located, in the middle of the conifer forest, we could see two adults, one standing in the nest, the other on the edge with its back to us, showing the big white tail. After a few minutes, the latter flew off through the woods, emerging to flap its giant plank-like wings to gain height and find a thermal. Hassled by a corvid of course.
We went on to have a look at the new hide set up for ranger led tours to guide booked public to view the nest. Not in view though, only the clearing from which the walks start.. We spent the rest of the afternoon slowly making our way back, parking for an hour or two to have a late lunch (cooked breakfast this morning). We saw a total of three White-tailed and three Golden Eagles, 6 Buzzards and a lovely Short-eared Owl. We turned round to re-locate the latter and I found it perched on a high grassy mound, My photos need a telescope to view the bird !

Fidden again to see what the high tide had brought. Parked on the 'camping ground' - not a flat area in sight, a rough bit of hillocky pasture overlooking the sea - our first different Scottish waders at last. Seven Dunlin and a Ringed Plover, feeding on manky looking drifts of seaweed beside a small rivulet, the tide rising ever higher.

Everywhere looked lovely in the evening, sun-dropping, golden light.  The sand is white, the sea a tropical blue, if it wasn't for the cold wind it could be the Caribbean ! This lone Shelduck looked good.

We decided not to eat there to-night, returning to our room to do so. John and Jane had left us a bottle of wine last night with some lovely crystal glasses. Only one glass to-night, John broke one. We are sworn to silence as he hasn't confessed to Jane yet.

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