May 2009


On the 1st 2 Twite were by Treshnish Old School House. Nick Evans and Bundy Riley saw a White-tailed Eagle in the late afternoon over Crackaig (heading south). 4 Green-veined White butterflies were near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 2nd 1 Lapwing flew over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and 2 Twite were at Toechtamhor cottage. Nick Evans and Bundy Riley noted a Cuckoo below Haunn cottages. Oak Fern, Scaly Male-fern, Male Fern, Lady-fern and Broad Buckler-fern were out or emerging in Treshnish wood.
On the 3rd 2 Twite were below Toechtamhor. A Drinker moth caterpillar was also in the same area and at least 2 Green-veined White butterfly were near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Mountain Everlasting was just beginning to flower and Early-purple Orchid was flowering, both near Haunn.
On the 5th 2 Sand Martins were over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Guests at Middle cottage, Haunn saw a White-tailed Eagle on Beinn Duill.
On the 6th Bush Vetch (-2) was flowering beside the farm road in Treshnish wood.
On the 7th 2 Greylag Geese at Haunn flew north. Common Milkwort and Tormentil (+5) were flowering at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 8th guests at Toechtamhor saw 2 White-tailed Eagles on Beinn Duill. The Narrow-leaved Helleborine at the usual spot by the concrete part of the farm road is emerging but has no flower yet. Last year it did not flower.
On the 9th at Toechtamhor cottage there was 1 Whinchat, 2 Twite and 1 Reed Bunting.
On the 10th A Whimbrel flew along the coast from the east of Ensay burn mouth. There was an unidentified diver in Calgary bay, a Sand Martin was over Ensay and 3 Cuckoos were near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. A Common Whitethroat was by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and in Treshnish graveyard. These were the first of the year for Treshnish, 9 days after the earliest in 2008. Friends staying at Treshnish House reported seeing Green Sandpiper near Port Haunn.
Also on the 10th walkers Eddie and Josie Gibson photographed presumably the same male Snow Bunting on the cairn at the summit of the Ensay-Burg road (Alan Spellman in litt.). There were at least 6 Green-veined White butterflies along the farm road in Treshnish wood and a Peacock butterfly by Treshnish graveyard. Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil (+8) and Yellow Pimpernel were flowering in the same place and Tutsan (-15) was about to flower by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Roseroot (-13) was flowering at Ensay burn mouth. A patch of at least 40 Common Twayblade were at Ensay Burn near the mouth, their flowering shoots were about half emerged. Early-purple Orchid was found at the same spot. Colt’s-foot was at the bottom of Ensay burn.
On the 11th there were 7 Dunlin at Dervaig and several Green-veined White, 1 Green Hairstreak butterflies and 1 Common Heath moth by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 12th at least 20 Kittiwakes were feeding at Rubha nan Oirean, the reefs on north mouth of Calgary Bay and 2 Red-throated Divers were in Calgary bay. A Chiffchaff like song was heard briefly in Treshnish wood but this was probably the same Willow Warbler, which was heard a couple of days later with a Chiffchaff introduction to its song. There were about 10 Green-veined White and 2 Speckled Wood butterflies in Treshnish wood. Creeping Buttercup and Red Campion were flowering in Treshnish wood. Marsh Violet was found flowering along rocky outcrop to east of Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. A new patch of Common Twayblade was found in Treshnish wood.
On the 13th there was an occupied Raven nest at Lòn Reudle and a Shag was seen bringing food to a nest there. There were 3 Twite at Burg. 4 Green-veined White and 1 Small Heath butterflies and 1 Brown Silver-line moth were below Reudle house. Marsh Violet was flowering near coast on south side of Lòn Reudle.
On the 14th 2 Linnets flew out the fuchsia bush at East cottage, Haunn where they nested last year. John Mason from Skipton found a scarce visitor to Mull, a Jay at the Ensay car park (Alan Spellman in litt.). Tony and Jayne Gibson, guests at Toechtamhor saw an Otter near Port Haunn. A new Narrow-leaved Helleborine was in flower, hidden behind a Raspberry plant near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. This is probably the spot where Arthur Brown found it in 2006. I have not seen it at this spot in 2007 and 2008 but may have missed it! Pignut (+11) was about to flower and Germander Speedwell (-6) was flowering at Toechtamhor.
On the 15th 2 Twite were at Toechtamhor cottage and a Collared Dove was by Treshnish House. Tony and Jayne Gibson saw 2 Sedge Warblers below Toechtamhor cottage and a Grey Wagtail at Crackaig. 1 Green-veined White butterfly was by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, the Sanicle in Treshnish wood is almost open and Fringecups (-16) is flowering there. The previous owner presumably planted the latter species.
On the 16th walkers Stuart Gibson and Ruth Fleming found a male Snow Bunting near Port Haunn, where they also saw a passing Swift (Alan Spellman in litt.). At Toechtamhor cottage there were 3 Twites and 1 Reed Bunting. 3 Green-veined White butterflies were half way between Treshnish and Haunn cottages and 1 more at Haunn where there were also 2 Drinker moth caterpillars. Guests at Middle cottage saw a White-tailed Eagle on the hills behind Haunn and an Otter near Port Haunn within the previous 5 days. They also reported seeing Heath Spotted-orchids (-16) flowering this week (19-15th May) a few hundred metres to the north-west of Haunn cottages. Field Forget-me-not (+2) was flowering by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Tony Gibson photographed one of the Twite that feed at Toechtamhor cottage and it was seen to have a red ring on the left leg and a metal ring on the right. This bird was one of 417 Twite ringed at Raggra, near Wick, Caithness, ND315445 (300km to the northeast) between November and March 2000/2001 by Hugh Clark. Tony and Jayne Gibson also saw a White-tailed Eagle on hills behind Haunn.
On the 17th a Golden Eagle was seen in the morning from the Ensay-Burg road and later in the afternoon again one was seen carrying food. At Tostary and Kilninian at least one pair of Yellowhammers was seen at each site. I have only seen this species once at Treshnish. There is also a healthy population of Greenfinch at Burg (at least 9). In 2006 we would see this species fairly regularly around Treshnish House and it probably bred that year but since then it does not appear to be resident here. A Dunlin on the beach at Tràigh na Cille, Kilninian was a couple of hundred metres from making a new species for the Treshnish 10x10km square. There was a pair of Red-throated Divers here, which were performing courtship calls and display very close to the beach. 3 Great Northern Divers (one still in winter plumage) were along the Burg-Kilninian coast and a Puffin was seen quite close in.
Also on the 17th a Tree Pipit was singing by Kilninian church and another was nearby. This species was not present in our 10x10km square according to the The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988-1991 (1993) but it was present and ’probably breeding’ in The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland (1976). I was hoping to find Redstart in the Tostary–Kilninian area as the habitat looks perfect. This species was present in at least one year between 1888-1991 during the surveys for the last UK atlas. I did however find a dead tree, which had obvious Great Spotted Woodpecker holes in it. This would be a new species for the Treshnish 10x10km square. A House Martin was at Burg and later presumably the same was around Tostary, this was my first House Martin of the year for the Treshnish area. A Starling was fretting outside it’s nest hole in a tree at Kilninian. One of a pair of Rock Doves at Kilninian was noticeably paler than the normal, dashing any hopes that these coastal Rock Doves are of pure stock.
Also on the 17th, there was 1 Green-veined White butterfly at Burg, at least 3 at Kilninian and 2 at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, 2 Speckled Wood butterflies were at Tostary. At least some of the oaks at Tostary are Sessile Oak. Botanists have also recorded Pedunculate Oak in this tetrad. Dwarf Juniper can be found just below the bench at Tostary and there were some Heath Spotted-orchids here. Greater Stitchwort and Agrimony were at Sgeir na Cille, Kilninian. Both Fragrant Agrimony Agrimonia procera and Agrimony A. eupatoria occur at Leac nam Bà, Kilninian. Both may also be under the cliffs at Lòn Reudle but so far I am 100% sure of eupatoria. Early-purple Orchid was flowering at Sgeir na Cille and Eyebright (+11) was flowering at Kilninian.
On the 18th a Swift flew in circles but moving northwards over Treshnish House out over the sea. A Mountain Hare was just below Treshnish House showing none of the white which some were showing just a fortnight or so before. White Clover was flowering near Treshnish graveyard. The Common Twayblade in Treshnish wood is lengthening the flowering shoot and will probably be in flower within a week. The Sanicle in Treshnish wood is just a couple of days away from being open. 1 Green-veined White was at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 19th a House Martin was again seen over Tostary with 2 at Kilninian. A Great Skua was seen over land at Rubh´ Ardalanish, Ross of Mull, Red Grouse, Great Northern Diver and 2 Common Terns were nearby at Traigh Gheal and a Golden Eagle was at Ardalanish. 5 Common Terns were also seen at Lagganulva. Twite and Yellowhammer were common at Ardalanish farm, Ross of Mull and there was a pair of Lapwing there too. I surveyed a Narrow-leaved Helleborine site at Traigh Gheal and found 93 plants most in excellent condition. I also found Bearberry and Gypsywort in this area which were new plants for me plus Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill at Ardalanish farm. Spring Squill, Lesser Twayblade, Common Cornsalad, River Water-crowfoot, Sea Rocket, Thyme Broomrape, Crowberry, Little Mouse-ear, Marsh St John’s-wort, Thale Cress and Hairy Rock-cress are some of the other plants that can be found in this area. Bell Heather was flowering there. 1 Green-veined White and 1 Red Admiral butterflies were at Ardalanish farm and 3 Common Heath moths were seen at Tràigh Gheal.
On the 20th there were 4 Twite at Toechtamhor cottage and a Ringed Plover obviously has a nest at Port Haunn. An Oystercatcher is sitting on a nest on the first shingle bay to west of Haunn, one has been sitting since the week ending on the 10th. A pair of Golden Eagles was seen on hills behind Treshnish. Foxglove is flowering between Port Haunn and Crackaig and Yellow Iris (+6) was also flowering there. 1 Oysterplant is in leaf at the usual spot at Port Haunn, the leaves having died in the winter.
On the 21st a House Martin was flying at Haunn cottages, a Red Admiral butterfly was in Treshnish vegetable garden. Common Sorrel is flowering around Treshnish House.
On the 22nd 3 House Martins were flying around Shian cottage where they attempted to build a nest last year and later there were 12 at Ensay, the largest number seen yet in the Treshnish area. A Lapwing flew over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and a Grey Wagtail was along Ensay burn. Tony and Jayne Gibson watched a Peregrine Falcon for half an hour at Treshnish Point and also found a Ringed Plover with 3 chicks and an Oystercatcher sitting on 3 eggs to north of Port Haunn (see 20th). There was 1 Green-veined White butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Common Twayblade (+10) and Sanicle (+8) were in flower in Treshnish wood
On the 23rd there was a Spotted Flycatcher at Toechtamhor cottage (this appears to be the first record of the year for Mull according to Mullbirds website). This was the first of the year at Treshnish and 17 days after the earliest record in 2006. There were 2 Twite at Toechtamhor cottage and 2 Linnets beside East cottage, Haunn. There was 1 Green-veined White butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and there was an immature Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly below Treshnish House (12/05/2008 is the earliest date for this species at Treshnish). Cow Parsley (+3) was flowering on the outside north wall of Treshnish House and on beside the burn below the house and Yellow-rattle (+4) was flowering in the meadows below.
On the 24th 2 Lesser Redpolls were in the field directly below Treshnish House. I have heard them a couple of times but this is the first time I have seen them this year. The wood above Treshnish boathouse is probably the best place to see this species and from now on they can often be seen flying from here to Treshnish wood. In the last few days there has been a flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls near the boathouse, today there were only about a dozen but on the 18th there were at least 50. A Meadow Pipit was disturbed from a nest with eggs along the burn up from Treshnish House and another was flushed from a nest with chicks on Ensay burn to northeast of the stone bridge on the main road where there was also a Mallard. A Common Sandpiper was by the bridge and is obviously breeding there. No Dippers were seen in this area.
Also on the 24th Changing Forget-me-not was flowering on track below Treshnish House. This is a new species for me although Lynne Farrell’s survey team found it in this tetrad in June 1997. Hemlock Water-dropwort (-16) is about to flower at Treshnish boathouse where Silver-weed (+7) has probably been flowering for a few days. Sea Arrowgrass, Lesser Trefoil (0) and English Stonecrop (0) were also flowering at the boathouse. Heath Milkwort was flowering along mid Ensay burn. In Calgary wood on the Nature Walk there were 200 Narrow-leaved Helleborine counted. Marsh Violet was flowering on wet patches by small cliffs to east of Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 25th there were 2 House Martins again around the Tostary-Kilninian area and 2 by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and a pair of Lesser Redpoll and 1 Yellowhammer at Tostary. The pair of Red-throated Divers was seen again at Kilninian. A Tree Pipit and a Starling both had food for young at Kilninian. A Reed Bunting and a pair of Whinchats were seen in the low-lying area below Haunn cottages along with a Sedge Warbler with another in the other wet area nearby to the west. 2 House Martins, 1 Curlew and 2 Lesser Redpolls were by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. A Twite was at Treshnish cow-barn with 4 more near Toechtamhor cottage. A Common Sandpiper was again on the first Ensay burn bridge on the main road and a pair of Greylag Geese was lower down the burn on Ensay side near the Treshnish farm-track. The night again produced very poor moth-trapping numbers.
Also on the 25th Common Mouse-ear, Greater Stitchwort and Three-nerved Sandwort were flowering at Kilninian, the latter was considered rare with only 6-7 localities, including Torloisk House, cited in Island of Mull a survey of its flora and environment by A.C. Jermy & J.A. Crabbe (1978). Aspen was at this spot and 2 plants of Agrimony were nearby. Changing Forget-me-not was found in the meadow in front of Haunn cottages. Wood Bitter-vetch Vicia orobus is in bud in front of Toechtamhor cottage and should be flowering within a day or so. This is a threatened species and Toechtamhor cottage is a particularly good spot for it. Greater Butterfly-orchid (-11) was also about to flower at the same spot near Toechtamhor cottage.
On the 26th during a trip to survey an old Narrow-leaved Helleborine site near Portfield, Loch Spelve there were 8 House Martins over the wood, 2 Wood Warblers in the wood and 14 Dunlin and 2 Shelduck along the shore. An Otter was fishing and damselfly was found which was probably a Blue-tailed Damselfly but it flew before I could photograph it and there were at least 4 Green-veined White butterflies in the area and patches of Sea-milkwort in flower along the shore and Greater Stitchwort flowering in the wood A beautiful patch of Common Butterwort (+14) was in flower on the rocks by the shore. Wilson’s Filmy-fern were found at two spots beside the track. No Narrow-leaved Helleborine plants were found.
On the 27th near Ulva House there were a pair of alarmed Canada Geese, a Pied Wagtail fledgling with parents and a Meadow Pipit with food for young. A Woodcock was flushed from the woodland floor where it was probably feeding and a Lesser Redpoll was on the edge of the surrounding meadows and a Chiffchaff was heard. There were 9 Narrow-leaved Helleborine plants in flower at the survey site. Greater Stitchwort was quite common in the woodland and Sea-milkwort was flowering along the shore.
Also on the 27th at Quinish wood following a report on MullBirds website, 2 Narrow-leaved Helleborine plants were found flowering at the entrance to Quinish House drive. A White-tailed Eagle was soaring over the ridge and a Golden Eagle was seen near the Standing Stone at Quinish. Greater Stitchwort was fairly common in the wood.
On the 28th a Twite was seen below Treshnish House and Lesser Redpoll were heard at Treshnish boathouse. Sea Sandwort was found flowering on the pebbled beach at Treshnish boathouse and Sea-milkwort was flowering about 100m to the west. Meadow, Creeping and Bulbous Buttercup were all found in and around Treshnish House gardens. Red Clover and Northern Marsh-orchid (-14) were flowering at Treshnish boathouse.
On the 29th there was a Chaffinch with food for young and a recently fledged Robin in Treshnish wood where Honeysuckle (-5), Common Valerian (+9) and Rowan had been flowering there for a few days. Melancholy Thistle was about to flower at Ensay Burn mouth and 2 patches of flowering Three-nerved Sandwort were found on the track in Treshnish wood, obviously this is not as rare as was thought (see 25th). Common Figwort (-1) was flowering at Ensay burn mouth and Sea-milkwort, Sea Arrowgrass and Sea Sandwort were flowering at several spots along the shore from Ensay burn mouth to Treshnish boathouse. Early-purple Orchid was also flowering there. A new area for Scots Lovage was found to the east of Treshnish boathouse.
On the 30th a Wheatear with food for young was at Middle cottage, Haunn along with at least 1 Twite and 1 Linnet and a Dunnock fledgling was with its parent at Toechtamhor. Alan Spellman informed me of 2 Long-tailed Ducks in Calgary bay, which had also been present on the 29th, so I went to take a look and although it was too dark for photos saw both males about 300m west of the ‘pink’ pier. A Mountain Hare was seen between Treshnish and Haunn cottages.
Also on the 30th Wood Bitter-vetch was flowering near the drive to Toechtamhor cottage where Greater Butterfly-orchid is about to open and a Small-white Orchid has emerged there. Northern Marsh-orchid was flowering on the grass path to the side-gate to Toechtamhor. A Rhubarb plant was flowering behind East cottage, Haunn. There were at least 10 Painted Lady butterflies at Haunn with a further 14 near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and at least 2 in between these sites along with a Red Admiral butterfly. According to the BirdTrack Neswletter
‘One of the biggest ever migrations, several million have arrived in the country after an exceptional breeding season following winter rains in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. The first wave was noted at Portland Bill on 21st May followed by a huge arrival over the Bank Holiday weekend.
On the 31st Hilary and Tony Renkin and family saw a Golden Eagle flying from below Duill and Shian cottages towards Calgary and in the evening 1 was seen perched above Haunn. AT & ST from Tobermory heard a Quail near Reudle Schoolhouse at NM366474 and saw a ‘cloud’ of Painted Lady butterflies near Ensay cattle-grid at NM360488.
Read more.
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