March

On the 31st it was sunny in the afternoon so I took a chance on finding the Peregrines at Tobermory free church. I was in luck, there was one high up on the weather vane.



I found some other photos of them on Mull Magic, which were taken yesterday, click here, and here.
I also found the Pied-billed Grebe quite easily at Salen, it was just to the Aros side of the old boat.


This is an American species which is extremely rare in Scotland (see www.mullbirds.com).
The Pink-footed Goose is still around at Calgary cemetery along with 19 Greylags.
There was a Mute Swan at Salen and several Wigeon there.
A couple of pairs of Teal at Loch na Keal and I may have caught a quick view of the Red-necked Grebe at Laggan Bay before the weather became to wet and rainy (it was seen again there last week www.mullbirds.com).
Near Aros castle there were a pair of Ravens engaged in mating rituals which involved rubbing of necks and bowing postures with a bit of strutting thrown in.







On the 30th a Tawny Owl was heard near Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
On the 29th these wing-tagged White-tailed Eagles were found in northwest Mull.

At the same site there were 2 Red-throated Divers

and a mother Otter with her 2 cubs.

Usual suspects include this Buzzard.

I photographed some Slender Speedwell which started flowering on the 22nd.

This is a rare plant on Mull but it its probably not wild. In previous years it was growing on the lawn at Treshnish House. Extension work meant the removal of this part of the lawn but I rescued a piece and put it on the lawn at the Old Schoolhouse. If conditions are right it should create a carpet of flowers which last right into the height of summer.
On the 28th there was a male Merlin near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. I only got off two shots before it flew up Ensay Burn.

27 Whooper Swans flew north over Treshnish headland.

later another 3

and Carolyne saw another 20 flying in a northerly direction ion the late afternoon.
The Pink-footed Goose is still around, today at Bennan with 14 Greylags.

It looks like there are two pairs of local Shelducks because there was a pair at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary at the same time as there was a male on Calgary beach (and later there was a pair at Calgary beach).
Lapwing over Treshnish lochan and there were at least 2 near Langamull dun.
Guests at Duill cottage described a bird of prey with a forked tail and auburn plumage, which sounds like a Red Kite! They saw it to the west of Lainne Sgeir, Calgary. 
Usual suspects included this Treecreeper one of two groups today although this is the first one I have seen this year.

Wheatears are proving a bit elusive but there is plenty of time for better photos.

On the 27th I went to Tobermory to look for the Peregrines on the church with a front rose window. I waited for about 3 hours and saw nothing. I would have thought that if they were breeding on the church I would have seen them in that time. However I spoke to one person who saw a Peregrine on the church a couple of weeks ago and and heard second hand of a woman who hears them in the morning. So it is definitely a good place to look for Peregrines!
I drove down the Sunipol road looking for the Pink-footed Goose and found this Buzzard eating a rabbit.


The Pink-footed Goose with 5 Greylags was finally located to the east of Calgary cemetery.

There were 2 Redwings a Treshnish cow-barn.


Usual suspects included these Pied Wagtails. This is a female

and this is a male.

There were 2 Otters on the east side of Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and a Mountain Hare in Treshnish wood beside the graveyard.
On the 25th just before sunset there was a pair of Golden Eagles soaring on Cruachan Treshnish and at least 8 Redwings at Treshnish cow-barn.

I heard some exciting news, that yesterday, Peregrines were calling loudly at Tobermory church tower which could be a sign of nesting. These two photos are from the 17th of March, one here and the other here. taken by Rob Brooks.
It is possible that the noise heard was just an adult protecting its kill from gulls because there should be no shortage of nesting cliffs on Mull. I have asked around to try to get more details.
If they do nest they will create a lot of local gossip because Peregrines are incredibly noisy. If they do choose to nest there, it will presumably because they are not feeling threatened by humans, so hopefully their alarm calls will be kept to a minimum but when the young call out for food it is very loud and piercing. Normally humans within several hundred yards from the nest triggers a cacophony of alarm calls. I know this from experience because for 3 years my sister had Peregrines nesting in an old quarry 100m from her house.
Definitely my favourite bird so this might make me a bit more eager to do the shopping!
On the 24th there was a pair of Bullfinches apart from 1 on 27th of Feb thus is the only other bird since 21st of December. I am hoping they stay to breed. Apart from it being a new breeding bird for Treshnish it is also a big favourite of mine. I always associate bullfinches with exotic locations because in India and Nepal they are always found in mountainous regions. There are four different bullfinch species in the Indian Subcontinent but I have only seen two of them. They are all extremely beautiful and to me they have particular mystery. Although they can be sometimes hard to see they are also sometimes quite tame and not so easily alarmed as the brash Chaffinch. 
There was at least 1 Redwing in Treshnish wood.

There was 1 Redshank at Ensay Burn mouth and at least 4 Wheatears on the boulder strewn hill where the Ensay road meets the coast.
These Curlews appeared out of the sea-mist.

On the Ensay edge of Treshnish wood there was a Mountain Hare.


On the 23rd I heard there is a Pied-billed Grebe in Salen bay. I haven’t been to see it yet.
I saw the yellow-tagged White-tailed Eagles in north-west Mull. These poor photos need a little imagination as most were taken at a range of about 500m.

In the original the C is quite clear but at this resolution it is clearer in a cropped image




I forgot my digiscope converter and so this was taken with my compact camera held up to my telescope. Taken at a range of 700m.

This is the other bird being harassed by a Buzzard.

There was a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers at Calgary boathouse and 1 Golden Eagle on the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe.
I couldn’t find the Pink-footed Goose today but neither did I find any more than 5 Greylags. A Golden Plover and Lapwing were heard at Crossapol.
This cock Pheasant at Calgary beach was feeding in the sea-weed. It shows that the Treshnish bird still has a way to go as far as tail feathers are concerned.


On the 22nd there was at least 1 Greenfinch and 5 Siskins in Treshnish wood, a Sparrowhawk in the afternoon and evening over Treshnish wood and the tame Pheasant was on the edge of Treshnish wood.

There were 2 Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and probably the same later at Calgary beach.


The Pink-footed Goose

was with 5 Greylags on the right just after Bennan farm buildings on the Sunipol road, there were 20 Lapwings at Langamull and 2 adult White-tailed eagles between Caliach Point and Langamull and 1 Redshank near Calgary boathouse.
At the Treshnish Tawny Owl nest-box I waited to get a photograph of an adult on the ledge but saw nothing until the sun was going down over the skyline when one flew away from the box north-west along the wall. It was so quick I didn’t see where it flew from but I think it must have been from the entrance on the other side of the box.
Usual suspects included this Hooded Crow harassing a Buzzard

and a Hooded Crow.

There was an Otter on the east side of Lainne Sgeir.
I found a new Hazel Gloves fungus site beside the burn on the road below Bennan. I found one old normal sized one and 4 few very small fresh ones.

On the 21st there were 2 Greylag Geese below Duill cottage.
I went to get the grid-references of some Hazel Gloves fungus I found a month ago above Treshnish boathouse and found some great examples and also new sites all of which are at the most western sites for this rare species at Treshnish. If you find this on Mull try to get an accurate description of the site preferably with grid reference and contact a fungi recorder.

This one shows how it got its common name (it is also partly slug-eaten)

I am pretty sure this is the beginnings of one.

This one is partly slug-eaten.

This is another fresh one surrounded by lichen.

It is more common to find only the old slug-eaten remains like this.

On the 20th there were 3 Fulmars on their breeding ledges at Treshnish Point.


This one is quite dark and I thought at first it must be the dark form or ‘Blue Fulmar’ but the head is, I think, too white and it may be am intermediate form.

These Ravens are nesting at Treshnish Point (Treshnish Isles in the background)

and there were a few Shags on their breeding ledges at the Starling roost cave.

Spot the Tawny Owl (taken at 5.50pm on a dull day).

At night an Early Grey moth came to our window.

Many moth species appear each year at very similar dates. My first moths of Early Grey by year: 2007 on 27th of March; 2008 on 19th of March; 2009 on 19th of April (although that was an unusually bad year for it and this was my only record for that year); 2010 on 18th of March; 2011 on 18th of March.
On the 19th Pam Rogerson saw a Lapwing at Haunn cottages.
On the 18th at 5.30pm there were no Tawny Owls on the outside of the box but at 6.40pm there was at least one but it was too dark to see inside the door.

Pam Rogerson had fantastic views of a Sparrowhawk which was perched for 10-15min at West cottage, Haunn and also saw 2 Wheatears to the north of Haunn (first of the year for the farm), a flock of c20 Skylarks below Toechamhor cottage. She also watched for 7-8 minutes a Hooded Crow mobbing a female Hen Harrier which a couple of times retaliated a couple of times by dive bombing the crow. She also heard drumming Snipe at Haunn cottages.
On the 17th at midday, the usual female Golden Eagle flew low in front of Shian and Duill cottages and at sunset a pair were seen on Beinn Duill. There was a Greenfinch at Treshnish house.
At about 5.45pm I saw something brown on the Barn Owl box below Treshnish cow-barn and thinking ‘Kestrel’ reached for my binoculars. I was surprised to see a Tawny Owl sitting on the ledge with another face peering out of the entrance! Presumably one of these was the one that was found in the wood-chip boiler on the 3rd of March! (see Carolyne’s farm blog). Guests please do not approach the nest-box as they may desert.
Co-incidentally this story about early nesting Tawny Owls came into my mailbox today and there are some video clips of that nest here .
Just after dark Snipe were heard calling and drumming at Toechtamhhor cottage giving a summery feel to an otherwise beautiful cold sunny day.
Pam Rogerson saw a pair of Kestrels to the south of Port Haunn calling and displaying and 2 Golden Eagles from Cruachan Treshnish to Beinn Duill which flew towards south-southwest.
On the 16th there was a pair of Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and 1 Pink-footed Goose with 12 Greylags beside Calgary cemetery and a pair of White-tailed Eagles (at least one with yellow wing-tags) at Langamull.
There was an Otter at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
The best photo of the day was this Buzzard.

Pam Rogerson saw a Goldcrest on a Rowan on north side of Calgary beach towards the pier.
On the 15th Curlews were calling behind Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. Also a Siskin was in Treshnish wood and a Pied Wagtail was at Ensay Burn mouth (both first of the year although a wagtail seen yesterday over Treshnish wood was probably this species).

There were also 2 Wood Pigeons and a singing Mistle Thrush at Treshnish wood and there has been an incredibly tame cock Pheasant around for at least a week.


Leena saw 2 Greylag Geese on Duill pond.
Pam Rogerson saw a Golden Eagle ‘beyond Toechtamhor‘ which sounds like the old male ‘primaries on both wings had 1-2 missing feathers and white/pale patches on body.’ and later 2 Golden Eagles by Beinn Duill which flew to Cruachan Treshnish ‘one seriously mobbed by Kestrel but didn’t even flick a wing.’
On the 14th there was a lot of eagle activity on the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe. At first it seemed to involve only an adult and a juvenile Golden Eagle but before this I was pretty sure I had seen at least a couple of White-tailed Eagles which proved to be the case because later 5 eagles were together over the summit and at least 3 of these were White-tailed Eagles but I suspect that they all were. This photo shows 4 of them but it is just over 2km away!


In Treshnish wood there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. This is rare at Treshnish and I only saw it here for the first time this winter, hopefully it will stay to breed.

A Goldcest was also seen singing in Treshnish wood. Although I have heard Goldcrests calling this week they have been notably absent this winter; presumably the cold wether hit them hard.
Although too distant for a great shot of this Buzzard, I was please with what I should be able to achieve on a sunny day.



Hooded Crows are surprisingly difficult to get close to.


Buzzard at sunset.

Lesser Celandine was nearly fowering beside Treshnish wood.
On the 13th the usual pair of Golden Eagles was over Treshnish wood off and on throughout the day although it was only in the evening that both were seen together. This is the female

and this is the scraggly male

A Merlin was also flying towards Treshnish lochan and 2 Whooper Swans flew below Calgary wood over Calgary bay.

On the 11th there was Mountain Hare in the Ensay side of Treshnish wood and Daisies and Daffodils were flowering beside Treshnish House.
On the 10th there was 1 female Hen Harrier, 11+ Lapwings and 2 Mistle Thrushes on the Langamull side of the Sunipol road, 2 Shelduck at Calgary beach,

1 Pink-footed Goose with 18 Greylags in front of Calgary cemetery,

a pair of Golden Eagles at dusk over Ensay farmhouse

and in the time it took to drive there, a pair (presumably the same) over Treshnish House.
At Penmore I checked for Hazel Gloves fungus where there are plans to build a forest garden. I did find a Hazel with several old stroma. I was quite surprised to find it here as so far, I haven’t found any along the wooded burn beside the Calgary road there and so I presumed, wrongly, it was too far from the coast.
On the 9th there was a Golden Eagle over Ensay farmhouse and 8 Ravens where the road there meets the Calgary coast. It is very surprising to see so many Ravens together at this time of year and I presume it is a pair looking to set up a territory which has provoked the local pairs. It seems very late to be setting up a territory. Ravens are supposed to nest early and they should be sitting on eggs very soon.
There were 2 White-tailed Eagles at Langamull, at least one had wing-tags which were probably yellow but they were too far off to be certain.The Pink-footed Goose was with 12 Greylags on Bennan farm on the right side of the road to Sunipol.

There were 2 Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and 1 Skylark at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
There was also a pair of White-tailed Eagles at Ballgown (SC).
I was quite pleased with my Photoshop removal of this electric wire from this Buzzard.


On the 8th I heard from Alan Spellman that on the 6th Bill Aspin had found a Red-necked Grebe at Sgeirean a’ Phortaire, Loch Tuath. I went to see if it was still there but I had no luck. I did however see 40 Whooper Swans at Ballgown

and a White-tailed Eagle on the hillside there.
I also found a big chunk of fresh Hazel Gloves fungus on a Hazel beside the road about 300m west of Eas Fors waterfall.
On the 7th the lady at the chip van in Tobermory told me she saw a Peregrine making a kill at shorefront. They see it quite often.
there were 2 Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and at dusk presumably the same at the beach.
There was 1 Pink-footed Goose with 11 Greylags below Frachadil, Calgary.
Approaching a Buzzard on foot is very difficult but from a car it was as I suspected easier. The first shot had an electric wire photoshopped out.



On the 5th a Dipper was singing in the wood just up from Ensay Burn mouth

and there was a Red-throated Diver off from Treshnish boathouse.
On the 4th there was a Redshank but no sign of the Dippers at Ensay Burn mouth. A Red-throated Diver flew into the wee bay there


this is surely the same one that was there a fortnight ago.
2 Greylag Geese flew towards Duill cottage pond.

There were a few Guillemots and 1 Puffin off shore from Ensay Burn mouth and a probable Fulmar off Treshnish Point.
About 10 Meadow Pipits were around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 3rd there was a Sparrowhawk at Ensay Burn mouth but no sign of the Dippers.
There were 3 Purple Sandpipers at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and a few Guillemots in Calgary bay mouth.
Usual suspects include Cormorants

and immature Shag.

A flock of about 15 Meadow Pipits around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse is an omen of spring.
There were 2 Drinker moth caterpillars to the east of Ensay Burn mouth. This is 3 weeks earlier that my previous earliest.
At night it was warm, cloudy, humid and still, a perfect moth night.
This was my first Satellite for Mull (although I have seen one in Lancashire)

This was only my fourth Dotted Border.

I also trapped 3 Red Sword-grass (my earliest by 14 days but see 29 December), highest number of Mottled Grey (28) and earliest Yellow Horned (by 10 days).
On the 1st there was a Golden Eagle at Ensay farmhouse and a male Sparrowhawk where the Ensay road nears the coast.
An Otter was seen on the east side of Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.

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