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30th: 2 Wheatears at Langamull, 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier at Port Langamull.
1 Otter at same site as on 25th and 24th between Ensay fort and Lainne Sgeir, Calgary (guest at East cottage).
29th: 79 Pink-footed Geese flying from Croig over Dervaig towards Salen,
1 Goosander & 2 Black-headed Gulls at Croig oyster-beds, 1 Little Grebe at Croig Harbour.
1 Mountain Hare below Ensay farmhouse.
This Silver Y, a common migrant moth came to our garden.
This spider climbed from the flower half way onto the moth. I wonder what the outcome was?
Pollination in action
27th: 1 Sparrowhawk at Treshnish House (is now regular and so I won't mention this species again until the next breeding season), Carolyne told me there was a Golden Eagle at treshnish Point and 2 Mountain Hares at Treshnish House, we haven't seen ours for about a week.
25th: 1 Little Grebe at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary. Little Grebe is locally common in north Mull with Mishnish Lochs and Salen the most reliable sites. The closest to Treshnish that I've seen it is at Croig. 1 Black-throated Diver off Calgary beach, 6-7 Goosanders at Croig and a White-tailed Eagle at Quinish Point.
Grey Seals with pup at Croig
1 Otter at the same spot I saw one yesterday between Ensay fort and Lainne Sgeir and another at Croig.
I was reading about the persecution of Peregrines in England. I try not to blog about politics but it would be negligent to ignore this. It looks like the Peregrine is going the way of the Hen Harrier. There are now more Peregrines breeding in London than the whole of the Pennines. Of the 77 historic peregrine territories which existed on grouse moors in the Pennines, only 11 pairs remain.
My sister and her husband have a farm and woodland in the Forest of Bowland where, for 3 years, a Peregrine pair nested, before the trees around the quarry became to large for them. It was this pair that re-kindled my interest in birds. Persecution was also rampant then, over 25 years ago.
More recently between 2000-2008, 131 Hen Harriers fledged from 106 sq km of moorland in the Forest of Bowland owned by United Utilities water company. In this same time only 24 young fledged from moorland owned and managed by all the additional regional shooting estates, a combined area of nearly SEVEN times the size. In 2008 the Forest of Bowland had 20-25 pairs of Peregrines and England’s core population of 14 pairs of Hen Harriers. In 2013 there were no Hen Harriers and one pair of Peregrines.
This is what has driven the Hen Harrier to the position where there was not one successful pair throughout England in 2013 and the it looks as though soon we will only have breeding Peregrines in cities and on coastal cliffs.
24th: 2 Pale-bellied Brent Geese flew from Lainne Sgeir, Calgary towards the Treshnish coast (lost track of them before Treshnish Point), 1 diver near Calgary pier (at first thought to be a Black-throated Diver) was probably a juvenile Red-throated diver, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit & 2-3 Wheatears (1 was large and may have been a Greenland Wheatear) at Langamull and 1 adult yellow-tagged White-tailed Eagle at Rubha an h-Àirde.
1 Otter between Ensay fort and Lainne Sgeir, 2 at Langamull and I was tolf of another off Ardmore lighthouse.
23rd: 1 Arctic Skua, 2-3 Red-throated Divers in Calgary bay, 2 juveniles and 1 adult Golden Eagle on Beinn Bhuidhe, 2 Swallows over Ensay Burn, 1 of 5 redpolls at Treshnish wood was very pale grey above and pinkish below.
22nd: 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese,
& 4 Grey Wagtails at Calgary beach, 2 Arctic Skuas, 86 Kittiwakes, 1 Turnstone at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary, flock of c8 Sand Martins at Calgary, Ensay and Treshnish wood, 1 adult White-tailed Eagle at Rhubha nan Oirean.
21st: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit at Scarisdale Rocks, Loch na Keal, 1 male Hen Harrier on Dervaig near Drimnacroish.
20th: I was reading up about Balearic Shearwaters in Birds of Scotland (the 2 volume tome that can be found in the Treshnish reading room). My first surprise was to find out that Argyll has the highest number of records in the whole of Scotland. Usually the far north is best for rarities and scarcities but there have been no record on Fair Isle or Shetland.
Most scarce or rare birds are not actually rare but just blown off course or difficult to find. The opposite is the case for Balearic Shearwater. Although it was first recorded in 1854 it was not recorded again until almost a hundred year later in 1950 and then after that in 1966. After 1976 it has been recorded almost annually, increasing in mid 1990's with 30+ seen in virtually every year (up to 70 per year). No one knows if the range has really changed or if it is due to increased observer effort. Whatever the case it is no longer rare in Scotland but in fact this is an extremely rare species. The last estimate of the total population of Balearic Shearwater was 1,700 pairs in 2002 and it is Red Listed as Critically Endangered, the highest threatened bird category.
Balearic Shearwater used to be known as Mediterranean Shearwater but has now been split into Balearic and Yelkouan Shearwaters. Balearic Shearwater breeds on the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean but disperses in winter to the Atlantic waters around western Europe and the Mediterranean. Yelkouan Shearwater breeds in the central and eastern Mediterranean and winters in the Mediterranean and according to BWP Concise has never been recorded in the Atlantic.
19th: 5-6 Goosanders at Croig,
35 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins and 1 Grey Wagtail at Calgary cemetery
Pair of yellow tagged adult White-tailed Eagles at Rubha an h-Àirde and another on the rocks at Sgeirean Beaga, Croig. The pair at Rubha an h-Àirde were flushed by walkers and flew towards Langamull. (I notice the OS 1:25,000 has Rubha an h-Àirde as the inland settlement whereas the 1:50,000 has this name as the reef at the point. I think the former is wrong especially as the point on that map is unnamed. Rubha means headland or point. I use the name to mean rocks at the point). 4 hours later there was still one untagged adult at a closer islet to Croig (Sgeirean Beaga was under the high tide). It flew towards Dervaig
(it looks like this is the remains of a white tag).
Half an hour later another untagged adult flew over Croig towards Dervaig. So at least 4 White-tailed Eagles.
18th: 3¼ hrs sea-watching at Caliach Point (someone who got there 10 minutes before me saw a Storm-petrel/Leach's Storm-petrel). I saw 4 Manx Shearwaters, at least 4 Great Skuas , c10 Kittiwakes and 1 diver thought to be a Great Northern.
I am also pretty sure I saw a Balearic Shearwater. It was very much like a Manx but it was chunkier in the body and overall larger. Balearic Shearwaters are scarce autumn migrants in Argyll but usually in association with large movements of Manxs which certainly wasn't the case today. I don't think there have been any Balearic records from Mull.
I also thought I saw a juvenile Sabine's Gull but the views were not good enough to send in a rarity report. It had a dark leading edge to the wing upper body and a broad white trailing edge to the whole of the wing. It didn't have the wing pattern of an adult or juvenile Kittiwake and it also looked more longer winged in fact I thought the shape was more like a large gull than a Kittiwake. If other's report Sabine's Gulls at this time it might add to the probability but even so it will still be a possible.
I also saw 2 medium size waders flying over the sea westwards around the point. I think they may have been Knots.
Another bird which I had difficult views of was much closer but it was flying away from me and as it dipped down below the skyline I lost it each time. From behind it looked grey with pointed wings but when it sheared it was dark-grey above included the small wedge shaped tail. It had bouncing wing beats and I can only think it was one of the smaller skuas. It didn't seem to have have any tail forks.
In the last few minutes I watched a Great Skua make an attack. It chased a Kittiwake and then in the panic of the first attack another smaller bird appeared. At first I thought it was an Arctic or Pomarine Skua but as it chased the Kittiwake I realised it was a Peregrine. I presume it was attacking the Kittiwake and it gave up when the Great Skua appeared and flew towards land. A few minutes later as I drove off I saw an adult Peregrine over the coast at Lag and a minute later another over the car. I had time to get the camera setting right and wind down the sun roof. I was sure the photo wouldn't be in focus but it turned out nicely. This is a juvenile.
On the cliffs above Ensay fort I had a brief view of a Merlin and Swallows still around at Calgary, Bennan and Caliach.
17th: 26 Crossbills beside main road through Ardmore, 1 hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow at Tobermory water treatment works, male Hen Harrier near Arthur Brown's Barn owl boxes, Sparrowhawk by Tobermory cheese farm and water treatment works.
Skein of 126 Pink-footed Geese flying east over Frachadil, Calgary.
Migrants: flocks of Swallows at Tobermory water treatment works (15), Calgary (c10) and Treshnish (1+), 1 Sand Martin at Tobermory water treatment works.
Young Otter calling at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and 1 Otter seen there (possibly an adult because then it went quiet).
16th: Seawatching for 2 hours at Dùn Haunn/Treshnish Point: 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese,
1 Arctic Skua, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Black-throated Diver off Treshnish Point. I must have arrived too late as the geese and skua were both seen within the first 5 minutes. After that it was very slow.
In the evening 2½ hrs of sea-watching at Caliach Point (restricted by very few breaks in the rain): 92 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 2 Leach's Storm-petrels, 3 Manx Shearwaters and at least 3 Great Skuas (impossible to count as they were constantly going backwards and forwards). 1 Redshank on Calgary beach.
14th: mild aurora borealis last night with green patch of light on Ensay at midnight.
White-rampimg Fumitory flowering at our house. This is one of the first two to emerge and both are flowering. The one at Treshnish vegetable garden has been eaten by something but still has a few flowers. The c30 plants that emerged later are all looking healthy although one I transplanted has turned down leaves which probably indicates a problem.
13th: 9 Bullfinches at Treshnish wood. 1 Greenshank, 4 Dunlin, 2 Turnstones,
Flock of 75 Pink-footed Geese flying from Port na Bà towards Sunipol direction.
12th: 1 Golden Eagle on north Treshnish coastal strip.
Rod met a visitor who saw c7 Bottle-nosed Dolphins in Calgary bay.
11th: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit at Langamull, 4 Black-tailed Godwits on Calgary machair,
White-tailed Eagle pair at nearest nest site in north-west Mull.
Otter at Langamull.
10th: North wind brought the Golden Eagle pair over Treshnish wood.
The female was displaying with calling and fast low glides over the wood (no steep dives). They werre perched on the conifers for a while.
9th: Guests saw a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins opposite Treshnish.
Originally I thought this Corn Mint was but it is another mint species.
and Fragrant Agrimony at Kilninian shore.
8th: 1 Merlin over Treshnish wood
7th: North-easterly in the early afternoon brought the male Golden Eagle over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Carolyne photographed 5 Black-tailed Godwits on Calgary machair.
6th: Seawatching for 2 hours at Dùn Haunn/Treshnish Point with a north-easterly was disappointing: 4 Manx Shearwater, 3 Great Skuas, 1 Pomarine/Arctic Skua, 1 Kittiwake, 0 Fulmars.
The northerly turning to North-easterly brought the Golden Eagle pair to Treshnish House and Treshnish wood and the sitheans.
The male must have just finished feeding as he has blood on his claws and bill,
and the female.
1 Reed bunting at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Migrants still present: Swallows (unfledged chicks in the Nissen-hut by Treshnish wood), Whitethroat at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
In the evening Mr Reed saw a Manx Shearwater on the road outside Dervaig on the Salen road.
I was hoping to be able to photograph flowering White Ramping-fumitory which was in bud last week but the flowering stalk has been eaten. This is one of the first two I found this year, the other also is in a pot by our house but it also got eaten on the first day I dug it up. It struggled for a while but now it also has a flowering bud so they are both at about the same stage. The 30 or so newer seedlings are all doing well and I planted some around the farm buildings so at least some should set seed.
5th: 1 Black-tailed Godwit on Calgary machair,
1 Greenshank at Langamull.
Haven't seen this domestic goose since last winter at Croig.
Migrants still present: Swallows at Treshnish and Calgary, Wheatears at Bennan and Ensay Fort.
Tawny Owls calling at night.
1 Black Darter (had a blue tint in the wings), 1 Common Hawker, 1 Large Red Damselfly, at least 7 Blue-tailed Damselflies and 1 Common Darter at Treshnish lochan.
1 Mountain Hare at Langamull
and the usual one in our garden.
Corn Mint at Bennan (a rare plant on Mull).
4th: Seawatching for 2 hours at Dùn Haunn/Treshnish Point with a south-westerly: 17 Manx Shearwaters, 6 Kittiwakes, 1 Great Skua, 0 Fulmars and a flock of about 15 large waders flying south (Curlews/Whimbrels/godwits)
Pod of at least 4 Porpoise heading south around Treshnish Point.
3rd: 2 Dunlin on Calgary beach, 12 Mistle Thrushes on wires to east of Langamull forest (I often see Mistle Thrushes here and at Mornish Schoolhouse).
Buzzard mantling what looks like a gull.
Tawny Owls calling at dusk.
1 Otter at Lochaline, pod of at least 5 or 6 Bottle-nosed Dolphins off Craignure.
At night a bat came inside our house and landed on my boot. I thought it would be identifiable from a photo but I need the measurement of the forewing and the presence (or not) of the 'post calcarial lobe' which extends from the bats ankle towards the tail. My photo shoes the toes but I think the lobe if it is present is out of view. Even so I think it is a Pipistrelle presumably with the black face a Common Pipistrelle. Judging from the measurements later of my boots the forearm is about 3cm and the ears are about 1cm long.
2nd: 8 Sanderlings on Calgary beach
and 1 Black-tailed Godwit on the machair there.
3½hrs later a godwit which looked more like a Bar-tailed Godwit flying east from Ensay Fort.
Summer migrants still around: Swallows at Treshnish and elsewhere and 1 Wheatear on Calgary machair
1 Basking Shark off the pier in Calgary bay in the mid afternoon and later in the evening at least 2 off from Ensay fort.
1st: 2hrs sea-watching at Dùn Haunn/Treshnish Point: 4 Sooty Shearwaters (rare off Mull but definitely under-recorded), 3 Great Skuas, flock of about 10 Curlews/Whimbrels/godwits and surprisingly only about 10 each of Manx Shearwater & Fulmar and even smaller number of Kittiwakes.
8 Sanderling & 5 Dunlin on Calgary beach.
Swallows around the cows in Black park were fun too watch. After persistent winds flies must be harder to find so the flies attracted to the cows are a real help.
At least 2 Basking Sharks off Dùn Haunn and 6-9 near Lainne Sgeir, Calgary bay. The top photo shows it twisting so the tip of the nose is on the left, the dorsal fin on the right and the tail fin in the middle
Here the tip of the nose is on the left and dorsal fin on the right, the tail fin was under the water
and 1 cetacean (dolphin or whale) off Dùn Haunn. I only saw a large fin a couple of times (the first time was just a blur) and I think if it had been a whale I would have seen the roll of the back.