The Marvel of Mull (25-28th April)

As mentioned in our previous post (found here), the first three days of our Mull tour were rather exciting: jampacked with otters, eagles, divers and other regional specialities, all of which left us wondering if our spell on the island could get any better. Well, truthfully, it did; the final days of the tour equally as exciting with the untamed wilds of Mull continuing to provide for guest and guide alike. A brief summary (omitting some equally exciting spectacles) is given below.

Day four of our tour found us departing our accommodation early; setting off, once again, into the interior of the island in the hope of catching up with yet more regional treasures. Our drive coming to a screeching halt when one eagle-eyed guest spotted a party of Red Deer close to the roadside. In an effort to view the ungulates – the largest and by far the most imposing of any British species – we soon exited the vehicle and, with the use of scopes so not to disturb the deer, enjoyed fantastic views of the fifteen or so hinds as they grazed on a nearby hillside. A pleasure to witness, especially under the fabulous, crimson sunrise. The experience here amplified by a fabulous dawn chorus of singing Song ThrushBlackbird and Robin, and distant go back go back call of an agitated Red Grouse. Sated with our mammalian encounter, we advanced to our first stop where, yet again, we enjoyed fantastic views of a hunting Golden Eagleyet another ringtail Hen Harrier and, for the first time on this particular tour, a hunting Merlin. The agile little falcon whizzing over the heads of our party as we enjoyed our packed lunch beside the trail. A real joy to behold, as always. Day four ended back on the coast where, not too far from our accommodation, we enjoyed the sight of both Common and Grey Seal languishing at a favoured haul-out site, and countless gulls and wading birds foraging along the tide-line. A highlight here coming in the form of two Whimbrel which dropped in briefly, clearly on route to the breeding grounds further North. The intriguing birds – a close relative of the much more familiar Curlew – showing well as the sun set on another day of fabulous wildlife.

For day five of the tour, we set out to try something a little different. Today, we hoped, would be a day of seabirds which despite it being rather early in the season, we admired in abundance. Among these, yet more fabulously monochrome Black Guillemots – bobbing in the surf alongside countless commoner, more familiar auk species. With both Guillemot and Razorbill noted in abundance and a few Puffin tossed in for good measure. With these, the regular assortment of FulmarKittiwake and Shag and the more notable sight of a passing Great Skua – the second of the trip no less. The formidable bird gliding effortlessly over the breakers before being lost to sight. The majority of the day was spent here; engrossing ourselves in the isles rugged coastal seascape and enjoying the comings and goings of the various species adorning the cliffs and coastal waters. With yet more beautiful canine Grey Seals observed, plus additional sightings of TwiteKestrel, Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Harbour Porpoise. Heading back, a Barn Owl crossed the road before dusk and, later, the characteristic call of a Tawny Owl was heard – both species being new for our every growing trip list.

For the final full day of our trip, it was decided that we would, once again, attempt to catch-up with the region’s big five. That we would attempt to see Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Otter, Mountain Hare and Hen Harrier within one day – something only possible here, on Mull. Well, things started on a promising note with a truly superb adult White-tailed Eagle observed fishing early in the morning. Followed, in turn, by another ringtail Hen Harrier as we drove slowly towards our next stop. This individual representing the first of three separate sightings throughout the day – we knew the Western Isles, as a whole, were good for this species but we never expected to see so many. The ghostly male bird observed later in the day standing out as one of the highlights of the entire trip. Well, advancing on our quest, Golden Eagle fell by mid-afternoon, albeit distant on this occasion (though you won’t hear us complaining) and Mountain Hares were noted twice, including one individual still sporting the remnants of his fine Winter coat. That only left otter to complete the glorious fivesome and, by early evening, we had positioned ourselves in a reliable spot in the hope of bidding farewell to Mull in glorious fashion. After an hour’s wait, it is fair to say our optimism had begun to diminish somewhat; minutes ticking by as we twitched at every movement amid the rocks and on the water – each ripple investigated as a possible indicator as to the presence of our quarry but failing to bare fruit. At least, that is, until a faint splash was heard off to our left. The ensuing five-minute wait finding our patience rewarded as a lone Otter swam into view. A female, we suspect due to her small size, which delighted as she fished behind the breakers for a good fifteen minutes before departing. We followed suit, happy and satisfied with our haul.

All in all, our Mull tour was a rather splendid affair: rife with spectacular wildlife, iconic scenery, great food, great weather and, of course, no end of friendly banter. It was nothing short of a pleasure for the UKWS team to be able to show our guests some of the islands hidden treasures and, from the feedback provided, we are delighted to hear that they had a good time. If you would like to learn more about the tours we offer – on Mull and further afield – please check out our page using this link: http://www.ukwildlifesafaris.co.uk/wildlife-

sunset on the beach
White Tailed Sea Eagle
Tobermory
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