April 2010

On the 30th there was a female Hawfinch
in Treshnish House garden!  Not only is this species scarce in Britain it is very rare on Mull. The only previous record for Mull was one on a bird-table at Frachadil, Calgary last year on the 15th of June. There was also a female at at a bird feeder on Colonsay on the 8th and 9th of April this year, which had a bar on the scapulars (the upper white bar on the wing) as did the Treshnish bird and I presume they are the same individual.
In 2007 there had only been 14 records in Argyll since 1953 (Argyll Bird Report 2006-2007)!
There were also 5 Twite in front of The Studio (1 or 2 singing vociferously), 1 Linnet at Treshnish House and Lesser Redpoll flying over. I heard a possible Green Woodpecker below Treshnish wood but I am a bit rusty with this call, obvious though it is. There were 2 Red-throated Divers off Ensay Burn mouth, 1 Cormorant on the rocks there and 2 male Cuckoos squabbling over Treshnish wood with some Meadow Pipits nearby when they landed. The Meadow Pipits did not seem alarmed. Is it possible that pipits that have reared young fail to regard them as a threat but sympathetically as offspring? I am sure if this is true it will have been written about somewhere. An alarmed Wren along the edge of Treshnish wood presumably had a nest nearby. Again a Mallard was seen twice flying to Treshnish lochan and there were at least 3 Sand Martins above Treshnish wood. SC saw about 12 Golden Plovers a few days ago (about the 26th) at the same place he saw them on about the 15th of April on Beinn Duill near the upper cairn above Port Haunn. A Tawny Owl was heard by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, it has been incredibly quiet this year.
There were 2 Emperor Moths
in the trap last night. One was so colourful I thought it might have been a male but the hindwing was not orange enough.

A large dark butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse was presumably a Peacock.
On the 29th a Common Whitethroat was near Treshnish boathouse (first of the year and 2 days earlier than our earliest date) and a Wood Pigeon was in Treshnish wood. At Mishnish Lochs (Loch Peallach) there were a pair of Goldeneye (the latest date I have is 2 males at Mishnish on 9th May 2006.). There were a pair of Mistle Thrushes between Frachadil and Langamull forest with another at Achnadrish (before Loch an Torr). A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was drumming at Calgary castle wood where it was also seen and heard on the 26th. There was a probable Peacock butterfly at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and 1 (same?) at Treshnish House. Another Hazel Gloves fungus was found in Treshnish wood. A patch of Slender Speedwell Veronica filiformis was flowering beautifully at Treshnish House. This is rare on Mull. It has been flowering for a couple of days and should be in flower for another 2 months.
On the 28th the Blackbird eggs (in the nest photo on 21st) have hatched and a Sand Martin was over Treshnish wood. One Common Twayblade in Treshnish wood is in leaf with a flower shoot emerging and lots of new Hazel Gloves fungus was found in Treshnish wood most of it not slug-grazed which is exceptional since elsewhere I have only found one or two healthy stroma and the rest have been slug-grazed.
On the 26th there were 2 Whimbrels on Calgary beach (my first of the year) and in the early morning 2 Greylag Geese there. At Loch Frisa there were 2 pairs of Red-throated Divers; when one pair started calling and displaying then all 4 would start stretching their necks and calling loudly, fantastic! There were it seems, several Cuckoos at Loch Frisa or else a very mobile one because their call was heard often and over a large area. There were also several Tree Pipits at Loch Frisa (the first of the year for me but obviously they had been there for a few days). This is a very good site for this species. There were two pairs of Red-breasted Mergansers, a pair of Greylag Geese and a pair of Common Sandpipers at the fish-farm. In the middle of the Loch there were 3 Cormorants and at least 1 Greylag Goose. Finally managed to catch up with the two European Bee-eaters, late in the evening, at Calgary (not great views so if weather permitting I will try again tomorrow). An adult (possibly sub-adult) White-tailed Eagle flew from Frachadil towards Caliach Point, it had wing tags but I didn’t get a good view (they were possibly white). As I type a Mountain Hare trots into our garden! At night there was a very poor catch in the moth-trap. It seemed like a good night, foggy with only a light breeze. The moon was full which is not helpful but it only occasionally broke through the cloud. Yet only 5 moths in total (4 species)!
A bit about bee-eaters: I will refer to the international name European Bee-eater for the species at Calgary since with rarities other bee-eaters could occur. [I have so far failed to find the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater in India and the closest I have come to it is in Denmark where it is extremely rare, it may even have even been a first for Denmark, anyway I tried to twitch it but ‘dipped’ (missed it). I did see a European Bee-eater though, close to where we lived in western Jutland.] I was looking in the new Birds of Scotland and was surprised to find out that the Calgary birds are the earliest records yet for Scotland. The earliest previous date was on 2nd of May 1966. It has never bred in Scotland but did attempt to breed in Lothian in 1920 but with global warming and a pair breeding in Durham in 2002 anything is possible. When we were living in Denmark breeding had started there too, so their range is definitely spreading northwards. Most records in Scotland come from Orkney and Shetland and elsewhere there are only 19 post-1980 records and of these Argyll has 5, of which 3 were on Mull: at Lochdon area (1993), Fidden (1995) and Glengorm (1998). There has only been one post 1980 mainland record on Argyll, the only other records being on Islay (twice).
Whilst a Calgary I had a conversation with an elderly man working in a garden, who told me that he has seen a Cough at Calgary 4 or 5 years ago. The last breeding on Mull was in 1992. The Argyll Bird Report for 1992 mentions ‘one pr on Mull bred unsuccessfully for the 4th successive year’. Alan Spellman in the Isle of Mull Bird Report (2009) mentions 3 birds attempting to breed at Scoor on the Ross of Mull ‘for some years, but have not been seen in their usual area for about 5 years’. This must have been at least 8 years ago. I checked back to his 2004 Report and there Alan wrote ‘Three birds were at Scoor attempting breeding for some years but have not been seen in their usual area this year 2003’.
The same gardener also told me that about 10 years ago he saw a Little Owl at West Ardhu, near Dervaig. The problem is that Little Owl has never occurred in Argyll before. The nearest regions are Clyde and Ayreshire and the nearest confirmed breeding is close to the border. Of course this does not rule out the possibility of a Mull record but without further conversation to find out how long it was present it does not rule out the possibility of another nationally much rarer small owl, Eurasian Scops Owl, which has occurred in Argyll (once on Tiree in 1997) or even the extremely rare (and also extremely unlikely) Tengmalm’s Owl.
Further conversations whilst waiting for the bee-eaters to re-appear mentioned records of Water Rail, Goldeneye and Coot at the hotel pond. I have the Coot on the North Mull Bird list and a Goldeneye at ‘Calgary’ (which I had presumed was in the bay) but not the Water Rail. Must find out more.
On the 25th there were at least 2 Fulmars around the cliffs at Treshnish Point. I wasn’t in a position to see the nest ledges. I saw 5 or 6 Curlews or Whimbrels flying around Treshnish Point but too far away to identify. I heard my first Cuckoo at Treshnish House and Haunn today although others heard it several days ago. There was a Wood Pigeon above Treshnish wood. There have been a pair of Bee-eaters in Calgary for 2 days.
On the 24th there were a pair of Wood Pigeon flying west from Treshnish wood and a Mallard flying from Treshnish lochan north to the coast.
On the 23rd there were again a pair of Mallard flying from Treshnish lochan north to the coast and first Bluebell was flowering in Treshnish wood.
On the 22nd there were at least 2 Swallows around the building and obviously not just passing through. A superb male Hen Harrier flew along the farm-road in front of Treshnish Old Schoolhouse! There was a Dipper again at the same spot by the waterfall below the second stone bridge between Ensay and Reudle Schoolhouse. Great news maybe they will breed and I can get a good photo! Better than this one on the 19th. The white dot at the very top left of the waterfall is the Dipper’s breast!
There was a Red Deer stag on Beinne Reudle, which apparently move higher up the hills in summer.
Red Dead-nettle , Springbeauty and Thyme-leaved Speedwell were flowering in Treshnish garden. The latter was in The Studio plant tub, the leaf size was up to 2cm and one book I have gives the leaf size as up to 1.5cm but I can’t think what else it could be.
On the 21st a female Blackbird was accidentally flushed off her nest at the edge of Treshnish wood.

Nearby a Tawny Owl was also flushed whilst I was pishing a Willow Warbler to come closer for a photo. I think I have only ever seen a Tawny Owl during the daytime once before here. They are very quiet at night, much quieter than one would have thought if they are breeding. Also in Treshnish wood there were 4 Wood Pigeons, a singing Goldcrest, a pair of Treecreepers and flying above, 1 Swallow. There were about 250 Kittiwakes between Rubha nan Oirean and Caliach Point, a pair of Mallard flying from Treshnish lochan and 2 Lesser Redpolls at Treshnish boathouse (first of the year). At Ensay Burn mouth there were 2 Greylag Geese, 1 Redshank, 1 Common Sandpiper (first of the year), 1 Swallow and offshore 1 Great Northern Diver. A Golden Plover was heard at Haunn and the other day SC saw about 10 near the cairn above the cliffs near Port Haunn.
There was 1 Mountain Hare by Treshnish graveyard and 1 above Treshnish boathouse.
There was 1 probable Green-veined White butterfly and 1 Peacock butterfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse as well as 1 Drinker moth caterpillar.
On the 20th 2 Greylag Geese flew from Treshnish direction to Calgary beach where there was a summer plumaged Great Northern Diver. A pair of Buzzards were over Treshnish wood, with one of them giving a great sky-diving display. There were also 2 Wood Pigeons in Treshnish wood and a Hooded Crows nest near the Ensay Burn cattle-grid. After only about 30 seconds of casting a view from telescope out to sea a Great Skua was picked up flying north across Calgary Bay. At Lainne Sgeir, Calgary there were a pair of Shelduck (a little later also seen at the beach) and an Otter.
Marsh Marigold was flowering near Calgary beach and another Hazel Gloves fungus was found at Lainne Sgeir. Most of us know what the male Hazel catkin look like. Here is the female flower.

On the 19th 2 Greylag Geese flew from below Treshnish wood towards the fields below Treshnish House. There was a Dipper above the waterfall just below the second stone bridge from Ensay to Burg. I didn’t see it there at all last year but the previous year it attempted to breed (proof of breeding not found yet). A Raven was making a call to its mate. I am not sure I have noticed before (or do I forget each year), it sounded like a slow moving football rattle. Hooded Crows also make unusual calls at this time of year. The Buzzard nest along Ensay Burn (above the wood) which had chicks in 2008 is unoccupied. I thought at least Ravens may be using it but good site that it is, there must be better elsewhere (unless it is still to early). There were a pair of Mallard by Ensay Burn cattle-grid. More Hazel Gloves fungus was found on Ensay above Treshnish wood.
On the 18th there were about 200 Kittiwakes feeding off Caliach Point there were 8 Wood Pigeons in the wood between the boathouse and the cow-barn. Sexual shoots of Field Horsetail were near Ensay Burn cattle-grid.It took only about 5 minutes to find 2 trees with part slug-grazed Hazel Gloves fungus on the Ensay side of the cattle-grid (one stroma -the ‘glove’-had parts of a several ‘fingers’ still intact), one of the trees had 5 stroma and the other had 1. Then I explored from the wood below the cow-barn downwards and found 28 stroma on 10 trees near the wee burn. One was almost intact and perhaps was just old not slug-grazed.
This is obviously an extremely good area for this fungus. Here is where it has been found in north-west Mull.
Another fungus was found near Ensay Burn cattle-grid. I have seen it elsewhere on dead wood. I think it is Trametes versicolor (Turkey-tail Fungus).

On the 17th there were 10 Golden Plovers circling and landing in Skoma field, Haunn, a drumming Snipe above Middle cottage, Haunn and a loose flock of about 100 Meadow Pipits by Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn. Most of the time birdwatching raises more questions than answers. Are these Meadow Pipits the resident birds or are they migrants. If they are resident do they form these flocks just for foraging because at other times there are individuals singing. The same goes goes for the 10 Golden Plovers seen today, wouldn’t our resident birds be paired up on the hills? Perhaps it is still too early. Was the Golden Eagle taking a lamb skin to the eyrie the other day for chicks? (This question at least would be easy to answer if I had a licence to approach the nest). Why has this pair failed for so many years? Where do the Grey Herons which we see here breed? (The nearest heronry I know of is at Quinish but ours always seem to come from the south). What is the immature Common Gull doing in the breeding colony? (This one I may be able to answer but I feel very unwelcome intruding on these gulls and have only once attempted to explore during the breeding season and they are so secretive it was very hard to see anything. Only later have I been able to see chicks just prior to fledging when they are too big to hide. The pre-breeding flock of about 40 which was congregating at the shore below Treshnish House had 2 immature birds. Is that some indication of the mortality rate, 20 pairs succeeding in rearing 2 birds through the winter? And on……..
There was a Mountain Hare
in our garden at Treshnish Old schoolhouse in the morning and at dusk. When crouched down it is very rabbit-like but the same hare standing looks very much Hare.

(Excuse the bad photo taken through a slanted window). Leena thought she saw a Rabbit in the same spot yesterday morning but it was probably this loon/quine.
On the 16th there were 1 or 2 Lapwings at Treshnish House.
On the 15th there were 2 White-tailed Eagles on hill to south of Frachadil, Calgary, 1 Sparrowhawk and a pair of Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and a little closer to Calgary beach 1 summer plumaged Great Northern Diver. There were a pair of Bullfinches at Penmore Mill and a Mistle Thrush at Croig. I went to Croig and later Penmore, looking for Orange Underwing, a day-flying moth which can be found flying above birch trees before the leaves emerge. They can be seen at Scallastle forest walk just to the north of Craignure but I was hoping to find them more locally. Perhaps it was too cold and not sunny enough, as I had no luck.
On the 14th there were 3 Great Northern Divers off Ensay Burn mouth and a pair of Mallards flying there from Treshnish lochan. Highlight of the day was at least 20 Bottle-nosed Dolphins fishing as they moved north across Calgary Bay moth towards Caliach Point. Another equally impressive event occurred later when I was alerted by the gulls to a Buzzard on a freshly killed Rabbit beside Ensay farmhouse. The Buzzard fed on the rabbit for about half an hour or more and then moved with a combination of walking/hopping (dragging the rabbit from one talon) and very short flights to a more exposed spot and then started making a call sharp short ‘kuu’ call repeated a few times and after a pause again repeated. The later calls were followed by the beginning of a more normal buzzard call. I was sure it was calling to its mate and sure enough another buzzard answered. After further ‘soliciting’ type calls along with a slightly mantled display which including a brief wing shivering behaviour whilst continuing the slight mantling of the food. The second Buzzard approached but the fist bird continued to feed for a few minutes more before the second bird approached more closely and was allowed to drag off the rabbit. The second Buzzard now had full possession but it had to drag and make a number of short flight before it was ready to eat only about 100m from the change-over place.
A presumed Small Tortoiseshell was on the farm-track above Treshnish wood. Another slug-grazed Hazel Gloves fungus was found just below the cattle-grid between Treshnish House and Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Cherry and Lungwort (an introduced plant) is flowering in Treshnish wood.
On the 13th there were 1 or 2 Lapwings ‘mobbing’ a Buzzard above Ensay farmhouse so obviously they are breeding up there again. The first Sand Martins (9) were seen above Treshnish wood (exactly the same date as our previous earliest date). There have probably been Sand Martins at Calgary beach for a few days, as elsewhere they have been seen at their colonies in the last few days. Also at the wood were 1 Swallow, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Wood Pigeons and a singing Goldcrest. A Cuckoo was heard at Reudle Schoolhouse (CM) and another or same at Haunn (LF), these were our first and 6 days before our previous earliest record. There was a Redshank and 2 Great Northern Divers at Ensay Burn mouth (1 in mostly winter plumage), another Great Northern Diver flying north across Calgary bay mouth, 2 Grey Herons over Treshnish boathouse and 1 Mallard from Treshnish lochan. A Snipe was drumming over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse at dusk (guests at Toechtamhor cottage informed me that they had heard one calling profusely). A Mountain Hares was disturbed from just 5 yards from its resting place in little ‘bower’ under some dead bracken by Treshnish graveyard. Another large butterfly flew passed Treshnish Old schoolhouse (Red Admiral or Peacock presumably). Common Scurvygrass, Thrift, Eared Willow, Blackthorn, Wood-sorrel and Wood Anemone were flowering at Treshnish boathouse where there were also several hazel trees with Hazel Gloves fungus (all slug-grazed). Dandelion was flowering beside Treshnish wood.
On the 12th a flock of at least 10 Collared Doves flew into Treshnish wood. Collared Doves are uncommon at Treshnish but I have seen the glimpse of a flock once before. Today I also heard for the first time part of the song of a Wood Pigeon in the wood; 2 Wood Pigeons were seen. There was a probable Green-veined White, at Treshnish (SC), which is 6 days before our previous earliest date, 1 Red Admiral by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and infuriatingly poor views of at least 2 orange butterflies also by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, which I can only presume were Small Tortoiseshell. There were another 5 Drinker moth caterpillars on the other side of Treshnish Old Schoolhouse from yesterday. I have never seen more than 6 in one place before so the total of 13 here is exceptional.
On the 11th there were at least 3 Willow Warblers (our first ) in Treshnish wood (this is exactly the same date as last year which was the earliest date at Treshnish although they had been seen in Calgary the previous day). A Great Northern Diver was off Ensay Burn mouth where there was also a Grey Wagtail. A Sparrowhawk was seen over Ensay farmhouse and 3 Linnets and 3 probable Siskins were in Treshnish wood. There was again a pair of Mallard and a pair of Curlews flying from Treshnish lochan (both are seen most days this week). A Tawny Owl was heard by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse (the first for several weeks-very odd). Two more sites were found for Hazel Gloves Hypocreopsis rhododendri along Ensay Burn near the burn mouth. Both sites had about 10 on single tree
and one site involved 2 Hazel trees but all were slug-grazed. This shows the uneaten ‘fingers’ at the bottom of the photo.
Butterbur was flowering

at Ensay Burn mouth (11 days after the earliest date) but it has probably been flowering here for a few days already. The Magnolia in Treshnish wood is flowering profusely and is attracting birds like in the orient. Chaffinches, tits and Willow Warblers were feeding on the [nectar] of the huge flowers. There were at least 8 Drinker moth caterpillars by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and a butterfly was also seen flying there which was probably Small Tortoiseshell. There were also 2 Mountain Hares by Treshnish graveyard, 1 was punching the air for a moment in the ‘boxing’ movement.
On the 10th 1 adult and 1 other White-tailed Eagle flew from Treshnish Point to Treshnish boathouse. There were 3 Twite beside Haunn cottages, which were my first of the year but what was exciting was that one had coloured rings. Its right leg had a yellow ring below and metal ring above and its left leg had a white ring below and an orange ring above. We should be able to trace where it was ringed. It is not the same ringed bird that was at Toechtamhor cottage in May last year. There was also a juvenile Rook below the cow-barn, it had not yet attained the while bill base of the adult and at first I thought it was a Carrion Crow. Carrion Crow would be a real rarity on Mull but at Treshnish Rook is quite scarce. 2 Wood Pigeons flew over Treshnish wood and there was 1 Pied Wagtail and 1 Grey Wagtail in Treshnish Old Schoolhouse garden (the latter a first for our garden). A Common Dog Violet was flowering by Middle cottage, Haunn. This is much later than any previous earliest date.
On the 9th the our first Swallow of the year flew over Treshnish house. This is my earliest record here, the previous being on 11th of April 2007. A Golden Eagle was seen carrying a lamb skin (SC) and a Linnet flew over Treshnish wood.
On the 8th there was a Great Northern Diver in near full summer plumage off the ‘pink pier’ Calgary bay. There were 7 Wood Pigeons over Treshnish wood. At Penmore I found my first Tunbridge Filmy-fern Hymenophyllum tunbrigense.

This tiny fern was not found in North Mull by the Averis & Averis surveys of Mull where they had 1 record near Craignure and 7 in south Mull. The Mull Flora by Jermy and Crabbe only had one record for Mull (in the south-east). I am pretty sure of my identification because of the frilly spore-cases but the leaf shape is also totally different from Wilson’s Filmy-fern (see below). I also found another Hazel Gloves Hypocreopsis rhododendri which was slug-grazed.

I also realise that a fungus I found on 5th of December 2008 in the Hazel woodland running down to the coast from just south of Reudle was this species.
On the 7th a White-tailed Eagle flew west below Treshnish wood, there were about 60 Kittiwakes off Caliach Point and 2 Mallards flew to Treshnish lochan, 1 Manx Shearwater (first of the year) flew north from off Treshnish Point and 7 Wood pigeons flew around Treshnish wood. There were 2 Peacock butterflies at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. These are my first Peacocks of the year but not my earliest date. In 2007 SC saw 1 on 7th of March and I saw singles on 25th & 26th of March.
On the 6th 5 Greylag Geese flew south from Rubha nan Oirean to Treshnish boathouse, later 7 more flew from Rubha nan Oirean around Treshnish Point and 1 Great Skua flew north across the mouth of Calgary Bay. A new record for Hazel Gloves fungus Hypocreops rhododendri
was found by Ensay Burn. This fungus is extremely rare in Britain. It was first discovered in Europe on Mull as recently as 1975 (Scottish Natural Heritage) or 1973 (Natural England).
On the 5th there were about 90 Kittiwakes off Rubha nan Oirean, Calgary Bay, 1 Great Skua flew north across the mouth of Calgary Bay and 2 Mallard and 1 Black-headed Gull flew over Treshnish lochan. Black-headed Gull is scarce in north-west Mull, I haven’t seen one here since October 2008.
On the 4th there were 2 White-tailed Eagles below Treshnish House (SC).
On the 3rd I went looking for the rare Hazel Gloves fungus Hypocreopsis rhododendri at Treshnish wood. I failed to find it but found Wilson’s Filmy-fern Hymenophyllum wilsonii
be abundant in the old Hazel coppice there. This shows it’s size and how it can be mistaken for a liverwort
On the 2nd there was a White-tailed Eagle seen to the east of Calgary (SC, CC & MC) and there was a Great Skua between Treshnish Point and the Treshnish Isles (first of the year and equal earliest with 2006). There was also a female Sparrowhawk or Goshawk over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. It was large and longer winged, so much so that at first I thought it was maybe a Hen Harrier. The Argyll Bird Report 2006-2007 has just come out and it was interesting to see that our records for Manx Shearwater (2006), Great Skua (2006), Arctic Skua (2006) and Pomarine Skua (2006 at Quinish) were all first records for Argyll. My first Drinker moth caterpillar

of the year was on the logs outside Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. This is an overwintering caterpillar and the last one I saw was on the 30th of September.
On the 1st there was a Fieldfare on top of a conifer in Treshnish wood. New links have been added on the right side of this diary to photos from Treshnish of ‘Mosses and Liverworts,’ ‘Lichen’ and ‘Micro-moths.’ The micro-moths have been checked by an expert so any mistakes are through my editing. The Mosses, Liverworts & Lichens photos that have been checked have ‘OK’ at the beginning of their caption, those without are not trustworthy at all!