Please consider signing this petition to stop the trapping of Amur Falcons in Nagaland. The video is sickening and I don't recommend watching it!

31st: Found the Chough again today.

Here is the ground after its pecking.

Pair of Golden Eagles there too.
30th: In the process of entering my bird records for this year I tried to see if anyone had counted the Starling murmmuration at Gretna which we saw on 14th November. One newspaper quoted the flock as being over 1 million birds!
This is an excellent YouTube clip of the Gretna flock and it was only 4 days after we saw it (worth watching until the end). Loads more here. There is a motorway service station nearby but somehow I always manage to pass it (we have seen the murmuration one before whilst heading south). This is a highly recommended winter event. 
I counted at least 5,000 in a smaller flock I saw at Leighton Moss Lancashire last month

so I find a million entirely credible.
We get the same thing happening every sunset at Treshnish Point as they get ready to dive into their roost cave. It only involves 200-400 birds but it is, none the less, a beautiful sight.
29th: 1 male Hen Harrier at Haunn (I presume this is the same male that has been around the Treshnish - Reudle area for the past month)
28th: Woodcock flying around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse at dusk
26th: Spent a couple of hours looking for the Chough but couldn't find it. It really needs a whole day of searching to be sure it isn't further along the coast. I did see a pair of Golden Eagles and a White-tailed Eagle (probably an immature) and a Woodcock.
25th: 1 Mistle Thrush on Reudle road summit.
24th: Spent 3 hours looking for the Chough without any luck although we did have a pair of Golden Eagles flying around for most of the time and also a male Hen Harrier and 1 Woodcock.
These videos are a fraction of the quality of original videos. They approximates the originals if you click the YouTube icon and then on YouTube click the cog icon to change quality and choose the highest HD setting.

Male Golden Eagle, above Treshnish lochan, 9 Aug 2012.

Colour ringed juvenile Sanderling at Langamull on 4th Sept 2012. Ringed by Jeroen Reneerkens and his Sanderling Study Group at Hochstetter Forland, Greenland on 27th July 2012.

Sanderling, Calgary beach, 16 Sept 2012

Croig, 9 Sept 2012

Croig, 9 Sept 2012

Croig, 9 Sept 2012

20th: 1 Hen Harrier at Haunn.
Here is an update on the pressure being put on India to stop the killing of Amur Falcons in Nagaland, India.
A lakh is 100,000 and BNHS is the prestigious Bombay Natural History Society.
Thanks to everyone who has signed the petition above.
18th: Just got back home and realised I had seen the big three today (the two eagles and Otter). The tour guides have a high hit rate for these species but I never go out of my way to see all three. 
Pair of Golden Eagles on Ensay Burg road,

immature White-tailed Eagle at Kellan

and Otter at Killiechronan eagle watch-point.

Also 1 Bar-tailed Godwit (pretty sure it was this godwit) and at least 1 Slavonian Grebe off Killiechronan, 1 Hen Harrier at Ulva ferry crossing, 1 Greenshank at Lagganulva, 1 Woodcock nr Torloisk crossroad (I could have got a good photo but I had to drive forward to let a car pass), at least 1 Redwing and 2 Fieldfares at Ballgown, about 10 Redwings on path to Kilninian black beach. Didn't see any white-winged gulls at Knock.

Ben More had an unusual cloud formation.

17th: at least 15 Blackbirds below Calgary Farmhouse.
16th: Found the Chough very quickly at its most commonly used site. It landed a couple of times very close to me.

Flight shots were less successful as it was either too close and therefore fast across the frame or the autofocus was focusing on the sea background. Frustrating as it could have made beautiful shots with the sea behind.

At one point the Chough flew out of  view on a hillock and seconds later a Golden Eagle stooped at the exact spot. I needn't have worried the eagle was just displaying and it continued doing so all along the coast.

About 10 Redwings near the hair pin bends above Ensay farmhouse.
12th: Another beautiful day but couldn't find the Chough. Did see 2 Golden Eagles, 1 Woodcock on open moorland and 1 male Hen Harrier.
About 15 Redwings near first stone bridge on Ensay-Reudle road. There are quite a few Blackbirds and Song Thrushes along the coast which I presume are migrants.
11th: Beautiful sunny day again so tried to get good Chough shots but I only saw it from a long way away. I was quite impressed though as it seemed to be holding its own against 2 Ravens. Some friends were there a few minutes earlier and had closer views.
Also 1 Golden Eagle and 3 Woodcocks on the open moorland which only seems to happen in cold weather (usually only seen in Treshnish wood in winter).
Carolyne saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Treshnish House.
10th: Saw the Chough again today

plus 1 male Hen Harrier (twice) and 1 or 2 Golden Eagles.
Saw a Hooded Crow and a Raven flying several hundred yards with food (I am not sure why they would be doing this at this time of year).

9th: Pair of Golden Eagles off and on throughout the day hunting around Treshnish wood with the female calling and displaying

and 1 Sparrowhawk around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.

8th: 1 Reed Bunting at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
6th: The Golden Eagle pair were around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse off an on all day.

They were mostly hunting and only spent a small amount of time calling and skydiving.

The first calling and display by the female was closely followed by an interloper being escorted away by the female. Presumably it was the presence of the third bird that got the female excited. The only other calling and display was late in the afternoon.
The low light showed how the talons are packed away for flight.

1 Sparrowhawk over Treshnish wood

and 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker seen twice flying backwards and forwards over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
1 Greenshank flew north from Treshnish lochan (a new species for Treshnish).

5th: Saw the Chough again today at the sea cliffs

very close to where Juliet Vines and Felicity Pollard saw it on the 20th. It was very tame even coming so close I had to zoom out with my camera. It was first seen at the top of the sea cliff. Then it flew below, to the cliff face, out of view for a while. I stayed still and after a few minutes it came back to check me out and then flew up to a nest hole (of another species) on the cliff directly above the raised beach

and then up a small distance up to the cliff top. It seemed to be feeding on the small eroded soil exposed ledges. When it is feeding it is very quiet and it would be very easy to walk right by.
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker seen and heard in Treshnish wood and 1 Golden Eagle on walk to Chough.
4th: 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker heard in Treshnish wood.
I thought it would be good idea to write about why I am making a fuss over Choughs (proper name Red-billed Chough, to distinguish it from Yellow-billed or Alpine Chough).
Most people know that Choughs have only recently re-colonised England (in 2001) after an absence of 28 years and which last bred successfully even further back, in 1947. The original pair have been very successful so in 2012 the population had expanded to 5 pairs which have round the clock protection during the breeding season. The Chough is on the coat of arms of Cornwall so its emblem is now rightfully re-deserved*
Scotland has never lost its Choughs but it is still a rare breeding bird with only 83 pairs in 2002. In 2002 the entire breeding population (excepting one mainland pair) was restricted to Argyll, the main stronghold being on Islay (64 pairs) with the only other breeding site on Colonsay (18 pairs). Potential breeding last occurred on Mull at Scoor in 2000 which involved a pair which had attempted to breed in every year since 1989 but which never succeeded although eggs were laid in most years! In 2001 there was only one bird on Mull in breeding season (Argyll Bird Report -ABR- does not give the location). There was only one pair on Colonsay in 1982 so colony recovery is possible although confusingly the birds in Islay are thought to have colonised from Colonsay in the late 19th century (Gray in Birds of Argyll) when they were common there. This suggests that colonies fluctuate and no one really knows how although weather and land use are thought to be involved.
I notice Alan Spellman has written that the present bird on Mull is probably from Colonsay. This seems logical since Colonsay is not far from Mull and can be seen easily from the Ross of Mull on a clear day. In fact the very coastline where I have seen Choughs on Colonsay is visible with binoculars from the Ross. But this is all guesswork. When the Cornish birds first re-colonised it was assumed that they came from the nearest breeding sites in Wales (Gower Peninsula) or Brittany. Indeed Welsh ringed birds have turned up in Somerset, Devon, Heysham, Lancashire and the Isle of Man although the latter two were from the Anglesey population in north Wales.
But last year the Cornish birds surprised everyone when the University of Aberdeen (yes, them again) took DNA from moulted feathers of the Cornish birds and proved that they came from Ireland!
Incidentally whilst the pair were trying to breed on Mull a dead bird was found in 1993 and in 1991 'Birds were seen during the breeding season at two other localities on Mull' and in 1995 'A colour-ringed bird at Loch Don Mull in late Oct was a wanderer, presumably from Islay or Colonsay' (ABR).
In 2009 there was an unconfirmed report of a single bird at Caliach Point (Mull Bird Report and in 2010 whilst talking to a local gardener I was told of bird(s) being seen in about 2005 at Calgary.
All these records show that birds do occur occasionally on Mull and probably more than we detect. It is hoped that a wandering bird will chance upon the bird here in north Mull right now.
*The symbol for the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire is the Hen Harrier. Only one pair bred in the whole of England this year (I presume in the Forest of Bowland). The reason for the Choughs extinction was not persecution although that may have played its part. The same can not be said for the Hen Harrier which should have a population of 300 pairs in England if it were not for deliberate persecution.
3rd: Pair and later female Golden Eagle on Treshnish headland walk and 1 Siskin over Treshnish wood.
I was just reading about Aberdeen University tracking of Fulmars during the breeding season. One adult male Fulmar left its nest in Orkney and travelled on a foraging trip deep into the Atlantic and returned via Galway Bay, Ireland; a round trip of over 5,000 miles! I gather he was away from the nest for 14 days. A later post shows that most foraging trips are closer in although one bird travelled quite close to Norway.
Incidentally on the subject of satellite tracking; there appears to be only one of the tagged Basking Sharks still transmitting data and Cailleach (presumably a female) is presently off south east of Gran Canaria. Map here.
2nd: Relocated the Chough close to where it was seen on the 20th November.
I also saw an unfamiliar bird flying overhead at the place where it appeared to land. It looked like a very small grouse. I shall have to look through my books but nothing springs to mind. I don't know what a Water Rail looks like in flight so it could be that.
Also saw a Sparrowhawk and a Golden Eagle pair.
1st: Just got back to Mull. Whilst I was away a Chough was seen in north Mull on the 20th of November. Because there is a chance of breeding, the location is not being published on the internet but presumably this is the same bird seen by Ewan Miles on the 25th October at Gribun. I went to see if I could find it and had no luck but whilst driving off I had a close encounter with the male Golden Eagle whilst driving near Reudle Schoolhouse but I forgot to check the camera settings. The eagle flew down to Treshnish wood so I sped back.
It joined the female and another unidentified eagle at the wood and I could hear a Golden Eagle calling.
I thought these 2 shots were interesting as the two birds are almost in exactly the same position in the frame
When I took this shot I was sure it was the female on the left (definitely the male on the right)
but when I looked at the photo later I thought the pale patches were just reflections. Because of the apparently smaller size I now think it could be a first winter male (the wing patches fit but not the pale belly which is a bit of a mystery and one reason why it may be a reflection after all). After they all flew off I knew it was probably better to stay at home because the light was good and the eagles were sure to return but I wanted to look for the Chough. When I returned the pair were over Treshnish wood calling and displaying but it was late and the light was poor.
1 Dipper at second stone bridge on road up to Reudle.


I was away for a couple of weeks. Highlights of non-birding trip: murmuration of Starlings at Gretna on 14th and Leighton Moss Lancashire on 27th, Red Kite at Nidd hall Yorkshire (SE300607) on 20th and another to east of Knaresborough, Yorkshire (where A59 crosses A1 - SE406567) on 25th, Grey Partridge, Colton Lane, York on about 22nd, aurora boralis seen from south of Wray, Lancashire on 14th, 2 Marsh Harriers and 30 Little Egrets at Leighton Moss Lancashire.

28th: 1 Red Grouse at Burg (Mr Pollard).
20th: 1 Chough in north Mull exploring possible nest site (Felicity Pollard & Juliet Vines).
17th: In June I wrote about White-tailed Eagles being accused of causing a Puffin decline on the Treshnish Isles. I argued that there was no evidence to support that claim.
The species that looked like it was in the most serious overall decline on the Treshnish Isles appeared to be the Kittiwake but the data I had was 2 years old.
Today I saw the report by SNH on seabird populations in Scotland over the last 20 years and ALL monitored species are shown to be in serious decline except Fulmar (-7%) and Black Guillemot (stable). Kittiwake (-66%) and Arctic Tern (-72%) are the two Treshnish Isles species which have suffered the most serious declines in Scotland. There is absolutely no suggested link between any of these declines and White-tailed Eagle predation. Tern populations on the Treshnish Isles are extremely erratic so nationwide figures are the best method of monitoring their population changes. Needless to say a 72% nationwide decline in Arctic Tern numbers is catastrophic.
I hope the Treshnish Isles Auk Ringing Group (TIARG) report 2012 will shed more light on the most recent local populations numbers. I have just downloaded the TIARG 2011 report. Puffin numbers have declined slightly in 2010 this does not seem to be different from the overall Scottish seabird trend although Puffin is not covered in the SNH report. Razorbill and Guillemot have increased as have Herring Gull and Great Black-backed Gull (although only slightly) but Kittiwake continues its decline from 2008.

I notice the 2011 report has a drawing of the view of the Treshnish Isles from the gate just beyond Haunn cottages. Click here to see it! And on another of their pages they have a photo of the same view click here.

12th: Mountain Hare at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
10th: 2 Fieldfares and 1 Sparrowhawk over Treshnish wood.
8th: About 20 Redwings over Treshnish wood and 3 Turnstones at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
7th: Flock of about 50 Redwings and 6 Fieldfares over Treshnish wood and 1 Dunlin on Calgary beach (no sign of the Common Scoters).
Arthur Brown pointed out a Waxwing to Leena whilst shopping in Dervaig (near old smithy). I think there are virtually no berries left in Treshnish wood so the large flocks of thrushes will probably not occur now, although small numbers of Redwings on the woodland floor and Fieldfares on the open land on the Reudle road are likely.
6th: One of the Golden Eagles was display diving, low over the wood near Treshnish House. I didn't have my camera. Later I managed to catch up with the male at his usual spot in the wood.

1 Turnstone at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary but I couldn't find any Common Scoters in Calgary bay.
5th: Didn't see any Waxwings today despite getting out early and looking all day but Arthur Brown et al. saw 20 at Tostary at mid-day, Alan Spellman saw 20-30 at Torloisk also at mid-day and Rod Little saw 10 at Dervaig in the morning. There has also been up to 6 Common Scoters in Calgary bay for a few days including 3 today (Arthur Brown et al.).
Pair of Golden Eagles, low over Treshnish Old schoolhouse. Unfortunately they didn't come over when the sun was shining.
The male

showing the new outer tail feather

Even the new long tail feathers are already starting to look scraggy. My theory is that because they are not all long and new, the freshest ones take more of a beating.
This is the smarter female

1 Merlin

1-3 Sparrowhawks

at least 10 Long-tailed Tits, 1 Bullfinch (first since mid summer), 1 probable Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Mistle Thrush, at least 60 Redwings

and 10 Fieldfares over Treshnish wood. Our neighbour to the south says they saw over athousand thrushes flying overhead in waves either yesterday or the day before. Arthur Brown says he hasn't seen so many on Mull before.
This cotoneaster in Treshnish wood (with Mistle Thrush) was taken in the morning

here with Redwing

and this was 6 hours later.

A male Hen Harrier was flying east off shore from Ensay Burn mouth. I have seen them flying over the sea once before off from Lagganulva. I think they are hunting miogrant birds. I've deliberative not blown up the photo to show that it really is offshore  (Hen Harrier is in the centre of photo).

Here is the cropped image.

Buzzard with full crop.

I am not certain but I think this scrapping of redundant laws includes the law forbidding the taking of beached whales because the head and tail belong to the king and queen.
4th: 1 and 2 Waxwings in Treshnish wood (at 3pm) which was teaming with migrant thrushes. It was impossible to count as it is not possible to know if it the same flock being seen. There were at least 50 Redwings and 50 Fieldfares and 1 Mistle Thrushes. The small numbers of Song Thrushes and Blackbirds were also obviously migrants (although not necessary from abroad).
The male Golden Eagle appeared briefly below the tops of the trees in Treshnish wood.
I didn't have time for photography or to look to see if there were more Waxwings but I did get off a quick shot of the male Golden Eagle. I noticed 2 days ago that his left tail feather is almost fully grown which is visible on today's shot.

Oh dear. I have just heard some terrible news about the annual massacre of Amur Falcons in Nagaland, northeast India. If you are squeemish you might not want to read this. The Amur is an absolutely stunning little falcon which used to be considered a subspecies of the Red-footed Falcon. Live photos here and if you click on the 'next' button or go to the drop down menu at the bottom of the link there are another 60 photos. I have actually been lucky enough to witness this species mating in Assam, northeast India.
3rd: At least 15 thrushes in Treshnish wood
2nd: The Golden Eagle pair off and on all day along the northern Treshnish coastal strip at times very close to Duill cottage (Mallards on the pond their were not alarmed at all). Like last Friday, I was working, so no camera. At least 15 Fieldfares in Treshnish wood. 
1st: At least 1 Waxwing. Only the third record for Treshnish (others being 4 on 23rd Oct 2010 and 30 on the following day)

Also at least 1 Brambling (a first for Treshnish and my first on Mull - so allow the terrible shot)

at least 3 Long-tailed Tits near Ensay Burn mouth, at least 30 Redwings and 60 Fieldfares in Treshnish wood.

1 (probably 2) Otters at Ensay Burn mouth.