Thursday, 29 March 2012


Tuesday the sun was still shining so a bit of a drive about was in order. The day wasn't lacking in sightings by any means but it could have been closer! A decent list of species including Black-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Northern Wheatear, WT Eagle and a group of 22 GN Diver and the best the camera had was a Greylag Goose. 
A couple of summer plumaged Slavonian Grebe were never close enough and a Mountain Hare was keeping tabs on the proceedings.
Plenty of Buzzard were on show through the day and a couple of Red-throated Diver were nice to get. A Grey Heron struggled with a fish but eventually managed to get it down.
There is usually something that will put a shine on the day and todays offering was a cracking Slavonian Grebe. It paraded around in the sunshine on a flat calm sea - just the best!
It left eventually but not in any great hurry as it got airborne enough to run across the water - fantastic!
Wednesday the sun was still shining. A bit of commotion from the gulls alerted me to the presence of a WT Eagle - a nice way to start the day.
I eventually got out just after lunch for a trip to the garage with the odd deviation along the way. Good light and a Lapwing - you can't fail.
The Lapwing can match it's good looks when on the ground with a transformation into a black and white acrobat when it takes flight. You could spend a whole day watching these birds and never get bored. This one is that good it only needs one wing to fly;-)
A real poser next. I was just stepping out of the car when a Skylark flew in right beside me. As you can see this bird has been in front of the camera before - the confident look over the shoulder, the raised crest, the glint in the eye and a happy smile...brilliant!
You can't make these things up...I'd put the camera down and started the engine and as I looked up there was a WT Eagle flying past. I just watched this one fly along, gaining height and collecting an escort of Buzzards. A first winter Glaucous Gull was quite approachable and looked good in the sunshine as I paid a quick visit to the beach.
The weather is forecast to change and it was easy to see that happening as the fog rolled in off the sea.
I managed to bump the year list up to 100 with a Linnet and then increased it by one with an elusive Yellowhammer. I saw this bird out of the corner of my eye as I was driving so I hauled in for a better view. I fired off a couple of shots just before a passing vehicle put the bird off.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


The good weather has continued over the weekend with the temperatures hovering around 20 degrees - dry at last! Friday I spent a bit of time looking for Yellowhammer but didn't connect with anything more exciting than Collared Dove. 
Monday I had a Great Northern Diver with an elongated bill. I guess this won't affect the birds ability to fish but it does look strange.
Looking at a bird with a normal bill you can see there is still a gap between the mandibles but this one has a much heavier bill or is that an optical illusion?
I'm still trying for a good RB Merg photo - not bad but still too far away!
A trip up the north of the island produced views of WT Eagle, Slavonian Grebe, Goldeneye etc but only one photo opportunity - an adult Iceland Gull.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A crocodile and a bear.

Thursday was wall to wall sunshine at last!! I headed out in search of some of the migrant birds that should be on Mull by now. A good start was had with a female Hen Harrier while looking for Adders. Looking at the snake from the front it looks a bit like a crocodile!
You see a lot of pictures of frogspawn but not that many of toadspawn - a tidy string of eggs.
The first of the migrant birds to make it onto the list was a Lesser Black-backed Gull - smart.
The gull was rapidly followed by the next migrant bird, fresh in from Africa, a Northern Wheatear.
Not just one bird either as a stunning male bird popped up in front of me!
Another male was feeding in the same area. These first arrivals are always special but it won't be long before they are commonplace. You can't fail to be impressed though.
I got my third year tick of the day, my 99th of the year, about two minutes later as a Common Snipe lifted out of the marsh and dropped back in again. As I was trying to get a snap of three distant Golden Plover a Skylark lifted from the ground, no chance to change the camera settings but I'm pleased with the result showing the motion of the wings.
The Starlings were in fine form too, plenty of birds singing from the rooftops and wires but this one in the Iris bed was just fabulous.
Highland Cattle are always nice to see...
...but don't the youngsters look like bears? Even the calf is laughing at that!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Little brown jobs.

A quick run out on Tuesday in poor conditions (what a surprise!) had me watching the Great Northern Divers. Not that many close to shore but it was interesting to see how the moult is coming on. Most of them have an all dark bill now and the feathers across the back seem to be changing on a daily basis now - you can see how tatty this one looks.
Wednesday was a better day all round but still overcast. Plenty of eagle sightings of both kinds but nothing close enough for the camera. I had good views of an Otter in the morning but it managed to disappear before I had a chance with the camera - I'm sure there will be plenty of other opportunities. One of the little brown jobs seems quite happy to pose...
...but the male Stonechat seems to keep his distance. Another little brown job that is hard to miss is the Meadow Pipit. It's nice to see them displaying again and don't they look smart?
I had a wander along the road too and put up what I thought was a Song Thrush. After a careful approach the bird hopped into view in a small bush - a cracking Redwing!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The weekend was actually sunny...with showers. Saturday was an early morning outing just for the delight of being out in the sun. We got better views of the Mountain Hare that I photographed in the rain a while back.
A Shelduck glowing in the sunshine was nice too.
The Curlews seem to be, mostly, paired up so there is a lot of display and checking out of suitable nesting sites and the rest of the time is spent feeding.
There are plenty of plants starting to show now with Ramsons, Wood Sorrel and Primroses all out but I can't find any signs of Butterwort yet.
Sunday was a reptile day. One of last years Common Lizard youngsters was seen while trying to get photographs of my first Slow Worm of the year.
I saw plenty of Lesser Celandine in flower on the mainland a week or so ago but this was the first one I've seen in flower here on Mull this year - pretty.
There were three Adders basking in the sunshine, one that was difficult to see in the grass, one basking on the rocks...
...and one in the shade.
I spent a bit of time with the one in the open to get some nice head shots.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Wet and dry.

Thursday it mostly rained. I was lucky enough to see a Peregrine creating havoc as I stepped outside to see how heavy the rain was. Not a great deal to report but it was interesting to see this Great Northern Diver was in almost the same stage of moult as the last diver I photographed.
The numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers are still increasing but it doesn't make them come any closer!
The conditions were not going to improve so I was heading for home and just one quick stop to get a few snaps of a male Common Teal.
Another lucky break at the end of the day was an odd call from one of the garden birds had me looking out of the window just in time to see a WT Eagle flying past!
Friday there was no rain but the cloud was hanging in. Inspired by a sighting of a Golden Eagle flying over the shop I had a quick run out that was well worth the effort. A Reed Bunting was singing at the side of the road.
A bunch of birds of prey next with sightings of two WT Eagle at the nest, two Golden Eagles soaring in the distance, a Sparrowhawk flashing past, seven Buzzards all heading for the same spot to gain height before moving on, another Golden Eagle and another Sparrowhawk - not bad at all! A male Stonechat was in full song...
...and a female of the same species was fly catching about half a mile further down the road.
An Otter was seen sleeping on the rocks but I wasn't going to wait for it to wake up.
I finished the day of with some good views of a Treecreeper...
...and watching the Grey Herons going about the business of nest building.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Wednesday I spent a very pleasant couple of hours photographing some Bullfinches. Initially the birds were fairly high in the trees with this male being the closest of a group of four birds.
A better view as it dropped down a couple of branches.
There was no concern about my presence as they munched their way through the buds on the trees.
The female birds seemed to keep their distance but occasionally one would work it's way past me...
...munching all the way down the branches.
Getting to the ends of the branches is the key to a good meal.
It was a real treat to see these birds at such close quarters.