No eagles on Mull

Published: 1st April 2011

Can't believe it is already April. A processsion of visitors and thoroughly miserable weather have conspired to keep me away from my blog – at least that's my excuse. A shame, because we actually enjoyed a red letter day with one of them recently. Sitting idly over a late breakfast in the Lodge dining room Angela spotted two Red Squirrels in the garden. They ran along a beech bough and then climbed right to the top of a cypress, affording good views to all. These are the first squirrels we have seen in Glen Loy, although I have noticed possible feeding signs in the last year. Perusal of the excellent Red Squirrels in the Highlands map produced a nearby cluster of sightings at Torcastle. Their website is well worth a visit. In an attempt to retain these rare visitors we put out some shelled hazel nuts, which quickly vanished over the next three days. To try and see if birds were responsible we switched to peanuts in the shell yesterday. These also vanished from halfway up a tree, so we remain hopeful. If we can track down some hazels in shells we will try these. Will keep you posted.
Elsewhere in the garden Newts are appearing in the pond, and I really should try lamping for them one evening. The Pheasant has attracted a lady friend or two and a rival cock, so we assume it is likely that they might well nest somewhere in the grounds. I suspect if they do the Pine Martens will make short work of either the eggs or chicks. Suspect our resident female may well have had her kits, but not sure where. She continues to stuff her mouth with bits of bread and disappear into the forest. First Sand Martins were back last weekend on the 27th March (squirrel day!). Good to see them swooping over the river again. So far no sign of the local Osprey, but it is still quite early despite reports or returning birds elsewhere.
We had a short break on Mull, two week's ago. The weekend started well, with a Merlin chasing wagtails on Lochaline pier. Fortunately for the latter, the Merlin must have been too nervous at close quarters to us, so it gave up. Remarkably, after the ferry had arrived and docked an Otter passed right alongside it and continued to fish behind it. We spent a couple of days of mixed weather driving around looking for eagles, amongst other things. Sadly we did not find any. Others, taken out by local tour operators were more lucky, but I was miffed that we didn't see any as we looked hard. This just underlines the value of local knowledge. Were not even allowed to visit the Sea Eagle hide at Loch Frisa, as the pair may be nesting too close to the hide. We did manage to find another otter, which came right up onto the rocks at Calgary Bay, close to where we were standing, and we skulked around rocks following it for a while – must have looked very strange had anyone been watching us. There were plenty of Wheatears about. I haven't seen any locally, and am surprised that Mull should be one of their first ports of call.The highlight of the trip was two Peregrine, newly arrived, roosting on the disused church tower in the middle of Tobermory high street and shrieking at passers by. Angela got some good photos, which she has put on her Facebook page.
Back on the mainland we saw a Sea Eagle flying over Gairlochy and descend towards the River Lochy. The local pair appear to be on eggs now. We also had Golden Eagle up Glen Nevis right by the popular Steall Falls. As we continued to scan, a Peregrine also swooped over the hillside. Paire Dippers were active in the River Nevis. On a dull and improbable wet evening with an unpromisingly high tide we managed to find a couple of Otters fishing in Loch Linnhe at Fort William. Obviously we should stick to our own patch in future!