Sunday, 21 April 2013

Puffin therapy

As the days draw Out the weather has turned to heavy showers.
The birds fly in to nest in the last fortnight we have started to get the puffins on the Isle's of Staffa and Lunga to begin their nesting rituals and tourists begin their Puffin therapy as you walk among the puffins, the Swallows have just started to arrive around the island as well as the Cuckoo's which i am hearing most mornings now.
Recent sightings of a pod of 9 Orca have been seen in the waters around the Isle of Rhum as well as bottlenose dolphins being reported to us by Turus Mara around Staffa and Trishnish isles, but still no Minke whales.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Dry but crisp start to the season

As the season gets under way the glorious weather stays with us nice dry sunny days with a real chill in the air but once again we manage to miss the snow the boat trips have started with great sightings of the white tailed eagles playing in bloody bay as well as the golden eagles tussling with the ravens in the bay. whilst harbour porpoise play in the water around the boats, the seals hide from the wind on the rocks around Calve island & the otter is now being seen daily feeding around the boats in Tobermory harbour but please take care whilst driving down the main st because the otter has a tendancy to run infront of vehicles especially in the area of the co-op.
On land as the season starts and all the attractions open their doors to the public and the town starts getting busy and spring is beginning to appear the birds are full of spring song the eagles have started laying in their nests around the island the red deer are chewing the heads of the daffodil buds and awaiting that first bite of lush spring grass.
no whales have been reported off the whalewatches leaving Tobermory however Calmac ferries and their passengers this morning reported seeing a sperm whale just out of Oban what a fantastic start to the season.

Friday, 15 March 2013

As spring pulls back the curtains

As spring pulls back its curtains and the daffodils and snowdrops burst into full bloom, whilst the primroses and violets begin to open their new buds to the fresh spring air as the days draw out and the spring lambs are born in the fresh growing spring pastures, the trees begin to awaken and the birds look for their nesting sites for this years fledglings to hatch.
The eagles have returned to their nests, Red deer begin slowly but surely move to higher ground as the daily temperature rises and the days get brighter and longer.
On a fishy note whilst expecting the cetaceans to move back into the waters as the water temperature rises and the plankton on nice hot sunny days will begin to bloom making plenty of food for the basking sharks to start appearing along the coastline in may, as well as mackerel moving into local waters to be caught from the shore.
This year we are glad to welcome an otter back into Tobermory, seen very regularly all around the pontoons and in the bay catching its prey from the sea bed.
We are now getting ready for this year's season on the island opens its doors on the 23rd of March for the Visitor Information and now taking bookings for many land and sea tours.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

First sighting of Orca this season

Well the season is coming to an end and the weather has definitely taken on an autumnal feel, however when the weather permits and sometimes even when it doesn’t there are still plenty of wildlife spectacles to be seen.

The highlight of August has to be the sighting of Orca just off Mull. Throughout the year there had been a number of sightings reported by fishing boats, but as Silver Swift set off on the 24th August, little did the people know they were to be the first passengers to catch up with this amazing species this year. The day started off a bit wet and overcast, but the boat was soon treated to a visit from some Common Dolphins, after this they headed further out the Sound of Mull and then someone saw the unmistakable sight of a male Orca surfacing, with their 6 foot dorsal fin they are very hard to miss. There was another wildlife boat out so they were quickly contacted and everyone felt honoured to see these magnificent animals in their natural environment.


Even though the weather isn’t being particularly kind to us at the minute we are still getting good views of the local wildlife. We have been lucky enough to have an Otter that has been sighted in the Bay a number of times in the last few weeks. As many returning visitors will know we lost Elvis our resident Otter a couple of years ago, but it is fantastic that another has taken over the area.

Our Eagles are still making their presence known, this year we were lucky enough to have Sea Eagle and Golden Eagle young successfully fledge and they are still being seen on a regular basis

Juvenile Sea Eagle attacked by Golden Eagle this is an amazing bit of footage and shows just how quick the Golden Eagles are, this was seems to appear from nowhere!


Whilst the Basking Sharks seem to have moved on, or at least under, when conditions permit the Minke Whales are still being seen well, hopefully this weather will let up and allow us to get out further afield a few more times before the end of the season. We will give a final end of season round up in a few weeks and let you know what has been about.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The good weather & sightings continue

It’s time for another monthly round up and my how this month has flown. I have just been reading the last update and things are still pretty much the same up here. We are still seeing very good numbers of Minke Whales, up to 7 on one of the full day Whale watching trips, we also had a spell where we were seeing the Minke Whales and Basking Sharks very frequently on the 2 hour trip, in fact we had 7 consecutive 2 hour trips that all saw at least one Minke Whale and usually 2. How lucky we are to live so close to these majestic creatures.

Until the last week or so the Basking Sharks continued to show well, just recently the sightings have dropped off a bit, but it seems that the plankton is just that bit lower in the water, the other possibly reason for the shift is something that was first brought to my attention by one of the skippers and he raised an idea that during long periods of bright sunshine the Shark sightings are usually lower, whether there is any truth to this we don’t know but this is the only possibly downside to the lovely sunny weather we’ve had that I can think of.

Talking about Basking Sharks we have had a group of scientists from the University of Exeter out on one of the local boats. They were here to carrying out tagging on Basking Sharks. For such large animals not much is known about the species, for example where do they overwinter and where do they give birth? So armed with high tech and very expensive tags they set off very early in the morning from Tobermory and travelled out to Tiree, Gunna Sound and Hyskeir to deploy the tags. You can follow the tracks of some of the animals here

As well as our local Sea Eagle nest there have been good reports from all across the island, including from Frisa & Skye, these were the original stars of Mull Eagle watch and springwatch and although the Mull Eagle watch location had changed for this year, not a lot had been said about this pair, however just recently the local RSPB officers confirmed that they had successfully raised a chick, fantastic news for this pair. We have also had lots of Golden Eagles fledge.

By the time of the next update the season will slowly be starting to wind down and although it hasn’t been as busy up here as usual we all feel very lucky to have had such great weather and sightings and will hopefully welcome many more of you before the season finishes for good.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Latest season update

Well it’s time for our monthly update and what a good month it’s been. Whilst the rest of the UK has been suffering flooding and gales we have survived largely unscathed. That is until last Thursday; the day started off beautifully with light winds and sunny skies. By mid afternoon the clouds were building and by the time work finished there was thunder and lightning all around. It was fun watching it in Tobermory, however for those up Ben More and along the road to the South side of Loch Na Keal it was much more serious. As the heavens opened the rain poured down the mountainside and was so forceful that a number of little bridges along the road that runs along from Knock to Gribun were washed away. This road, the B8035 remains closed for the time being whilst the bridges are rebuilt. Luckily everyone trapped between the bridges were quickly rescued.
Photo courtesy of Mull Charters

Now on to some better news regarding the recent sightings. With the Scottish Schools breaking up over a week ago the island has been busier meaning that the trips have been going out more frequently and with more people on board, these extra pairs of eyes always help with spotting the wildlife. The Minke Whales are still here and are being seen almost daily on the longer whale watching trips and just last week people on board for a 2 hour Ecocruz were lucky enough to see a Minke Whale in the Sound of Mull. It is very rare to see whales that close to the Harbour, but if conditions are right you never know it might stick around.
We’ve also had 3 separate reports of Orca within the last week and although none of these sightings have been from the trips, it’s great to hear that these animals, the largest of the Dolphin species are hanging around in our waters. Another Dolphin species that has been putting in an unexpected appearance has been a group of White Beaked Dolphins that were seen a number of times around the middle of June. This is a species that is quite numerous around the east coast of Scotland, but was last seen off Mull in 2008. We’ve also had regular sightings of the Common and Bottlenose Dolphins around the island. As well as that the Basking Sharks have been showing well.
White Beaked Dolphins Copyright Sea Life Surveys

In terms of bird life we had an unusual sighting of a Red necked phalarope a couple of days ago, these birds are seen occasionally, however it tends to be later on in the season. There has also been another sighting of a Long Tailed Duck, there was an individual seen on a number of occasions  earlier in the season but this was the first one for a couple of months. Other than that we have had the Sand Martin chicks leaving their sandy burrows for the first time, a Red Breasted Merganser with 10 fluffy ducklings and even the first Guillemot and Puffin chicks have been seen bobbing about on the water, waiting until it is time for the whole colony to leave in a few weeks time.

Well that’s all for now from Mull, we are coming into our very busy season and who knows what that will bring. Don’t forget to look us up on facebook and keep us up to date with your sightings on Mull.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A busy month for wildlife

Since the return of the Minke Whales over a month ago we have had some fantastic sightings with 5 different individuals seen on one very good day. Obviously the long period of calm and sunny weather has meant that as well as having more boats out looking it is much easier spot the wildlife. As well as the Whales we have good sightings of Basking Sharks with many more reports of breaching Sharks already this season, the Dolphins have also been putting on a fantastic show, with both Common and Bottlenose being seen at least once a week. Both these species are just transient so pass through at any time but it seems like conditions are favourable in the waters around Mull at the minute as they seem to be sticking around.

As well as the larger species we are having good views of the birds, the trips leaving from Tobermory are seeing both the White Tailed and Golden Eagles on an almost daily basis, with at least the Golden Eagle having a nest with 2 chicks in it. Other nests around the island have been very successful, with the new stars of Mull Eagle watch having 2 chicks in the nest as do a number of our West coast nests, which is especially good news for Mull Charters and their Sea Eagle adventure trip as it means the parents are taking advantage of the easy meal in order to feed their hungry young so they are having fantastic views of both the adult birds taking the fish from beside the boat on nearly every trip.

Otters are being very elusive this year with even the experienced land tour operators struggling to find them, however that is all part of the fun of wildlife watching! There have been some amazing sights seen on the minibus tours. For example whilst one group were looking at a Golden Eagle nest one of the adult birds flew from the hillside and attacked a Buzzard. The pair then tumbled to the ground where the victorious Eagle proceeded to eat the Buzzard! Nature at its best! There have also been some special one-off sightings for example a Red backed Shrike and a Red Kite being seen from the Treshnish headland.

I’m sure the next few weeks will bring many more exciting sightings so we will keep you updated. For more frequent updates and pictures from the trips have a look at our facebook page