Well it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote anything and what a fabulous time it’s been. The island has been getting increasingly busier, which mean there are a greater number of people out looking for our returning wildlife. The fantastic weather has also surprised and delighted both visitors and locals alike.
From land lots of the summer migrants have been seen arriving in good numbers. Wood Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Whitethroat, Whinchat, Sedge Warbler, Redstart and Garden Warbler have all been seen in the last week or so with the first Cuckoos being heard as well. It has also been a fantastic time for seeing as well as hearing Corncrake over on Iona. With the vegetation still being quite low these secretive birds lack their usual hiding place and therefore you have a greater chance of spotting them skulking around. The first Mull Magic http://www.mullmagic.com/ Corncrake walk on Iona was very successful, with at least 5 birds being seen or heard.
On the boats it has been a very exciting time. The Puffins and other breeding Seabirds have now arrived in good numbers to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa. As well as the birds, Seals and Harbour Porpoise one of the operators running to Staffa has also seen a Basking Shark, this is still very early for this species, but hopefully within a few weeks they will be being seen on a much more regular basis. The first Minke Whale has also been sighted from a passenger boat from Tobermory. This was seen last Thursday, and another was reported earlier in the week. It’s good to have these visiting Cetaceans back, every spring it is always an anxious time as we can’t take if for granted that they will continue to return year after year with the changes in the marine environment.
The faithful Harbour Porpoise have also been putting on a fantastic show as usual with Ardmore point once again being a hotspot with one boat seeing at least 20 individuals there yesterday. Another species this area is good for is the Sea Eagles. This was where our young pair bred last year and it appears that they are using the same nest again this year; I hope they are as successful at their second attempt, as in 2010 they had two young that fledged the nest and as far as we know are doing well.
Monday, 11 April 2011
Yesterday saw the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far for Mull and I was lucky enough to have a day off. Deciding to forgo the usual mundane day-off tasks, we decided to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Having heard about the Pied-Billed Grebe seen in Salen Bay and not yet having had a chance to go looking for it we headed off in the glorious spring sunshine. Even before we had reached Salen I had seen my first Swallow of the year; during the winter months I always forget how fond of these summer visitors I am! We then stopped at the old boats on Salen shore and had a walk down to the edge of the water.
There was no sign of the Grebe but we saw a good number of Common Seals hauled out on the rocks enjoying the sunshine, along with Oystercatchers noisily making their presence known, a couple of Red Breasted Merganser, Curlew, Greylag Geese and a single Mute Swan. We had a wander along the shore and saw a number of Buzzards soaring above us and heard at least two Willow Warblers singing from the bare branches, but even with no leaves they were impossible to see. Just as we were about to head back to the car, another bird came towards us, even from a distance you could tell it was something different and as it came closer and flew over our heads I instantly saw that it was an Osprey. This is a bird that whilst not common, is a summer visitor to the island and despite having seen them elsewhere this is my first sighting on Mull.
Unfortunately this isn’t a picture I took but from http://www.edupic.net/predator.htm
After this we started to head home, but with the lovely spring sunshine still beating down on us we decided to have another stop by Aros Bridge, this is where I had spotted the Swallows on the way down and is a notoriously good spot for Dippers. Again the Swallows were seen, but no Dipper today, however it was lovely just to be outside, enjoying the bird song from the Chaffinches and Blue Tits amongst others. It was also lovely to see the bright yellow flowers of the Gorse and the Daffodils as well as hearing the young lambs call to their mothers in the field.
When we arrived back in Tobermory we were greeted with the news that there had been a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins in Calgary Bay. It is likely that these are the same animals that were in Tobermory on Friday evening and with the lovely weather bringing lots of people to the beach there it is likely that their presence was enjoyed by many.
All of these sightings mean it has been a fantastic start to the season and long may it continue.
Saturday, 2 April 2011
With the sound of drilling, sanding and hammering coming from all areas of the pontoon you can tell we’re coming to the beginning of a new season. With Easter being so late this year the boat refurbishments have taken on a more leisurely pace, however with a number of boat trips starting at the beginning of April last minute work is being done until the late evening. Luckily the weather has been kind to us lately and with the increasing day length this is a pleasure not a chore. Even I have been drafted in to assist with a bit painting! Despite there still being a sprinkling of snow on the mountains there is a definite feel of spring in the air and the animals know it too. Last week, St Patrick’s Day saw a pod of 7 Bottlenose Dolphins come into the bay and spend a couple of hours showing off courtship behaviour. Whilst many locals and visitors watched from the main street, staff from the HWDT jumped on the Harbour Association Rib and went out studying behaviour and taking photo identification pictures, further information can be found on their website http://www.whaledolphintrust.co.uk/news_article.asp?news_id=230. The Eagles have been good to us all winter and there have regularly been 3 seen above the bay and flying to Aros park, reports are that one is an adult bird released in Fife last year and we think the other 2 are juveniles. Also the Tobermory Peregrine Falcons have been making themselves known, they often sit on top of the gallery in the main street, eyeing up the local feral pigeon population. With the regular sightings of feathers on the pavement it looks like they are living up to their name of fearsome predators. Even when not in sight you can hear them calling from over much of Tobermory. Last week there was another first for the year with a single Basking Shark seen near Tiree whilst one of the local boats was carrying out a bird survey in the area. This is an incredibly early sight, however looking into other Basking Shark reports for the year it looks like there have been a few more sightings, have a look at http://www.baskingsharks.org/whatsnews_all.asp for more information. This is just a quick round up of some of the recent sightings around Tobermory. This season we are going to try to keep a weekly report of all interesting sightings and hopefully we will set up a link so that visitors and locals will be able to send us their wildlife sightings. For now all I'll say is that Explore Mull is now open and operating from the Aros Hall on the main street in Tobermory.