30th: Went looking for Redstart, Mistle thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker at Kilninian and saw none of them but I did discover a beautiful wooded gorge above the deer fence.
I did see a Short-eared Owl
Willow Warbler fledglings
Coal Tit fledgling
There was an Adder near the top of the Ensay-Burg road but it slid off as I reached for the camera. There was also what I am almost certain was a Wood Tiger moth flying nearby.
This is, I am pretty sure, a Common Hawker dragonfly emerging from its larval stage.
and this is the common but beautiful Green Carpet moth.
Checked to see if some local Bog Orchids were out yet. I had looked a couple of days earlier but couldn’t find them. This time I came armed with my GPS and found a group of about 20, some with flowering spikes emerging. They are very small.
This is under 3cm tall
and these are the vegetative plants.
29th: At Glengorm there was female Hen Harrier,
where I am pretty sure I saw my first Grey Wagtail of the year (they have been hit hard by the cold winter as have been Stonechats) as well as Spotted Flycatcher and Mistle Thrush. Herring Gulls breed on the coast there. 2 Bullfinches flew beside Treshnish wood.
An Otter came to the rocks on the east side of Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
I went to look for Marsh Fritillary butterflies and Slender Scotch Burnet moths. I failed to find what I was looking for, perhaps it was not warm and sunny enough. There were very few butterflies flying but there were 4 Common Blues
and a 2 or 3 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries,
and I have been told by an expert that this is an unusually patterned Gold Swift which is a new moth for me
and this is Beautiful Golden Y.
But the highlight of the day for me was finding a new plant. I was climbing up a steep slope and saw a mat of vetch leaves which I didn’t recognise. It wasn’t in flower so I thought i would have to come back later. As I climbed I found a couple of flowers and recognised it as Wood Vetch.
As I climbed further there was loads of it. I have been here before but not this late so I had missed it.
Wood Bitter Vetch is also on these slopes.
There were also a couple of fresh Thyme Broomrape
my first flowering Grass-of-Parnassus
and flowering Harebell.
28th: There is Short-eared Owl nesting on Treshnish farm. Adults were seen bringing voles to calling chicks. This photo was taken at 9.45pm.
Here is an adult bringing a vole to the nest
This is bringing a vole to the the nest site
then off for more
I think I saw a couple more Wood Tiger moths near the summit of the Ensay-Burg road but they were too fast to be sure.
27th: I went to Tostary-Kilninian for the last chance to find Redstarts in the Treshnish 10x10km square for the last year of the new Atlas. I didn’t see anything but I was also hoping to see Mistle Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker. I saw the latter flying into the next square so it is a new bird for the summer season and will go down as present but no evidence of breeding. I think it must breed in the next square possibly even at the wood by Kilninian black beach or Torloisk. I presume there are Redstarts at Torloisk, the habitat looks perfect. A month or so ago I saw a half built House Martin nest at Kilninian and knowing that the nests had collapsed last year, wasn’t sure if the half built nest was an abandoned nest from last year. No House Martins were seen on 2 or 3 quick visits this year so I was happy to see the nest complete today and just as I was taking a photo a bird flew in for a second.
The Buzzards at Tostary are much more approachable than the pair at Treshnish wood.
I watched a Short-eared Owl for a while after sunset up Ensay Burn which was a good way to end the day.
Usual suspects: Willow Warbler
I saw what I am pretty sure was a Wood Tiger moth by the hill road overlooking Ensay Burn. It was flying but I have seen this species flying before when I first mistook it for Marsh Fritillary butterfly. I wish it had settled nearby so I could get a photograph as I have never managed to photograph an adult successfully.
It seems to be a very good year for Hazel Gloves fungus this year. There are lots of fresh ones. This huge one was beside the hairpin bends above Ensay farmhouse.
This smaller one was next to it. perhaps it should be renamed Hazel Brains fungus.
I think this is early Early Marsh-orchid subspecies pulchella with the double hoops and no markings outside the outer ring but the lower petal should be turned down so I am not at all certain.
26th: 2 terns below Treshnish House were thought to be Arctic Terns.
25th: Again a Greenfinch was heard at Treshnish House, strange that they don’t breed here yet at Burg and Calgary they do.
Treshnish wood and graveyard were teaming with birds, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Lesser Redpoll, Spotted Flycatcher
Thyme Broomrape was flowering along the cliffs (at least 3 plants).
Last year it was too dry as they were emerging and they dried up.
24th: A Peregrine was above the Common Gull colony near Treshnish House and a Greenfinch was heard calling again there.
Brief view of Dipper and a male Sparrowhawk at Ensay Burn,
Greenfinch at Ensay Burn
male Hen Harrier with a bird prey at Ensay Burn
Usual suspects: Willow Warbler
23rd: A Greenfinch was calling beside Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
An adult Dipper rested for at least half an hour just above the nest on Ensay Burn. Either it has finished feeding the chicks for the day or they have fledged.
There was a fledglings nearby but it may have been too independent to be from the second brood.
The second nest is now very visible.
I flushed a family of recently fledged Wrens
and a Song Thrush has food for young.
There were a lot of Twite and Lesser Redpoll families up Ensay Burn. This is a male Twite.
A Drinker was resting beside the stone bridge over Ensay Burn (mistakenly first identified as a Fox Moth).
This is only the second time I have found it out in the open in the daytime. It is nocturnal so I presume this one is newly emerged. It is a similar colour to the Northern Eggar which is larger and the male flies in the daytime (see 20th).
22nd: There was a Dipper above Eas Fors waterfall.
A cold overcast day meant this Four-spotted Chaser allowed close up shots.
Bog Asphodel was flowering
and I found Hazel Gloves fungus at a new site there.
I have just been told about this free downloadable SNH 140 page book Atlantic Hazel by Sandy and Brian Coppins on the unique Atlantic Hazel woodlands which are found on Treshnish and Mull in general. On page 88 you can see some photos of the Hazel regeneration at Treshnish.
21st: A Tawny Owl called during mid-day from Treshnish wood.
20th: Bullfinch and Spotted Flycatcher were showing along Treshnish farm road but not long enough for photographs. The Siskins have been very vocal the last couple of days after what appeared to be a very late start to their season and a Wood Pigeon was singing in Treshnish wood.
Usual suspects included: Whitethroat
and a newly fledged Willow Warbler.
During a trip to monitor a Small-white Orchid (they were all already fruiting)
a huge orange moth was seen (Wren size) flying which must have been a Northern Eggar, which I have trapped only once (one day after this date in 2009) but never seen flying before although I have several times found the caterpillar.
This Clouded Buff landed
but a much more pale worn one was more wary. I must have passed at least 50 male Common Blue Damselflies
this is a female Common Blue Damselfly
and I have been told this is a female Blue-tailed Damselfly
I went to Glengorm to look for butterflies and moths but it became too cloudy although I did find this Thyme Broomrape below the cliffs (usually higher up on the cliffs).
I have just seen the update route for Rothes the satellite tagged ‘returning’ 2 year old Loch Garten, Osprey. It looks like she is out of danger having crossed the Sahara and Atlas Mts and arrived at river systems near Marakesh, Morocco. She has just done a 4 day 275 mile round trip back to Marakesh but this has been around rivers and presumably she returned to Marakesh to return to good fishing (the data from the 16th was missing). The last point (17th May ) is 1 mile from a river and the same spot she was at 4 days earlier. Perhaps she will not return to Scotland this year. Interestingly the spot she was at on the 15th was the exact route of her brother of the same year Mallachie on 11 Oct 2009. I presume this is also because it is along a river and I imagine Rothes spent some time fishing here.
19th: Carolyne saw a Jay on the Langamull side of Penmore (a rare bird on Mull).
There was a Tufted Duck at Loch Peallach, Mishnish (there is only about 1 record per year in north Mull)
beside a Red-breasted Merganser
and Grasshopper Warblers heard at both ends of Loch Peallach. Also 3 Arctic Terns in Calgary bay and the male Peregrine entertaining visitors to Tobermory today.
This photo shows how quick he has to be to first see the prey, turn
this pigeon was not even chased
One of these dives resulted in a pigeon escaping with only a few feathers missing.
Usual suspects: Common Sandpiper.
I went to photograph Bird’s-nest Orchid. It likes mature woodland and the full canopy makes photography difficult.
and this was also found at another new site which I think is one of last years plants
18th: Very exciting news today a Quail was heard off an on all morning at Haunn. Please do not approach the bird and keep dogs on a short lead. They are a very rare breeding bird in Argyll, in fact there has never been positive proof of breeding, but a male calling from 31 May to 21 June at Haunn in 2009 may have bred.
There was a Black-headed Gull on Calgary beach.
2 Grasshopper Warblers were heard to the east of the summit of the Dervaig-Salen road and closer to Dervaig a pair of Lapwings with at least 3 chicks were beside the road.
17th: Bullfinches were heard in Treshnish wood.
A Golden-ringed Dragonfly was resting in the drizzle beside Treshnish wood.
16th: I found out from guests that the reason I saw a male Bullfinch fly up by the dog kennels a few days ago is that there is a nest there. I eagerly await finding out where!
I presume this is an nearly full grown Shelduck which was with a female at Calgary beach. These are not the Lainne Sgeir birds.
A Cuckoo landed briefly beside our house where a Meadow Pipit brought it food!
Sorry, but I love Wheatears
Went to Calgary beach for my annual trip to look for Frog Orchid which used to be there several years ago. No luck.
I flushed my first Common Blue butterfly on Calgary machair and a Green-veined White at Treshnish was presumably from a second brood.
Machair plants included:
and Common Stork’s-bill.
15th: 14 Goosander/Red-breasted Mergansers flew over Langamull towards Calgary and there were 2 Bullfinches to west of Langamull beach.
The Shelduck chick at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary is half grown.
A pair of Lesser Repolls were building a nest in the conifers beside Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
Nearby there was a Wood Pigeon singing and this is the nearest to proof of breeding I have found so far at Treshnish.
Usual suspects included juvenile Wheatear
At Langamull, we found a new colony of at least 11 of the rare Slender Scotch Burnet
This one is deformed and may have had an obstruction preventing the wings opening before they hardened.
We found 1 Transparent Burnet there too.
At Langamull we also found several Frog Orchids on a new site on the machair
and a few Common Twayblade, small enough to photograph.
Today the last 3 days of the route of the returning Osprey Rothes were released. She keeps trying to head east almost as though she is trying to retrace her southern migration route but whatever the reason, this means she is zigzagging north through the Sahara at an agonisingly slow rate. The right green line is her southern migration and the left line is her northern migration which she started on the 23rd of May. To get this into perspective this part of the journey took only 5 days on her southern migration!
In the last 3 days she flew 730km but has only moved 150km miles north and is back in the desert although at least heading towards the coast again. This is her position on the 9th
the good news is that on that day she moved only 50km along the coast and so hopefully had time to do some fishing. Perhaps there is nothing to worry about. If she had been desperately hungry presumably she would have stayed to feed. Once out of the desert presumably she can just rest and feed at leisure unless there is some over-riding instinct to head north which seems unlikely as she is not going to breed this year.
14th: There was a male Bullfinch by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Usual suspects a Meadow Pipit with food for young
and a Cuckoo.
There was a group of about 5 merganser species on the site below.
We went looking for the rare Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid or Pugsley’s Marsh-orchid at a known site on the slopes of Ben More. It is a new orchid for me so I was glad to see what it looks like.
The reason I wanted to see what it looks like on Mull is a bit complicated. I won’t go into the full details but as far as my latest books go there are now 2 subspecies of this orchid: Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides traunsteinerioides and Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides lapponica. They look quite different. D.t. traunsteineri normally has no spots on the leaves or bracts so these photos are of lapponica. This species is endemic to the British and Ireland and is not to be confused with Lapland Marsh-orchid proper D. lapponica to which both subspecies were previously thought to belong. The subspecies D.t. lapponica is endemic to Scotland and is know from only 18 10x10km squares.
There were a few places nearby with both subspecies of Early Marsh-orchid. The more rosy incarnata
and the more purple pulchella.
Apart from the unmarked leaves it can be separated from Narrow-leaved by there being no markings outside the outer double loop on the lip of the lower petal.
On the north side of Loch na Keal we visited a patch of Adder’s-tongue Fern which was shown to me last year. It was not so prolific as last year but it is fruiting.
I also found a few Argent and Sable, a rare moth and one of which I have only seen once before on the Ross of Mull and which I failed to get good photos of, so I was fairly pleased with this, not perfect but reasonable.
There was also a Ruby Tiger on a rock by a stream
and by Loch na Keal near Thyme by a stream a beautiful micro-moth eluded me (brown with pale wing-bar) but I think it was Pyrausta cingulata (I have seen this moth at Ensay Burn mouth but didn’t get a good photo then either).
I saw my first Golden-ringed Dragonfly of the year
and my first Common Blue Damselfly of the year.
13th: The male Peregrine was again on Tobermory main street church tower. It flew to the pines above the distillery.
It looks like a couple of its flight feathers are moulting or damaged.
Wood Warbler could be heard close in the woodland close to the visitors centre (I have heard Chiffchaff on my previous 2 Peregrine sighting days behind the church).
I was fortunate to be asked by the vice-county recorder to photograph Common Wintergreen in north-east Mull. It is rare on Mull with only 4 sites given in the Mull Flora.
12th: The Reudle Kestrels fledglings are making short flights
this Golden Eagle was over Ensay Burn.
On the summit of Carn Mòr there is plenty of Dwarf Willow
and Bogbean nearby.
11th: I tried for better shots of the Kestels with very limited success.
Usual suspects included: Whitethroat
and juvenile Wheatear.
I found Parsley-piert at Reudle, only a few stone throws from Treshnish. The pale colour makes it quite easy to find.
10th: A Kestrel nest was pointed out to me near Reudle. There are 3 chicks in this photo. 1 on the nest and 2 above it on the left.
This is zoomed in on 2 of them.
The House Martin nests are all but finished. This (taken at 8.30am) is the last and nearly finished. The entrance hole might be closed a little more but basically it is a long wait now until fledging.
A male Bullfinch flew up the burn by Treshnish House.
Usual suspects include: Skylark
9th: There was a male and female Blackcap together beside the road through Treshnish wood and a male Bullfinch with another Bullfinch beside Ensay Burn cattle-grid and a Spotted Flycatcher there too. There was a Greylag Goose below Treshnish House and 2 below Ensay farmhouse.
I went back to Tostary to get a better Yellowhammer shot
but could not find the micro-moth.
On the way back at 9pm this Short-eared Owl was close to the road above Reudle Schoolhouse.
Usual suspects included this Buzzard.
The old House Martin nest looked finished yesterday and today the new one on the left is all but finished and the one on the right should be finished tomorrow (they have chosen to have entrance holes facing away from each other).
1 or 2 dragonflies seen briefly along the road through Treshnish wood were probably too large to be darters.
At the parking place between Burg and Tostary there was Common Stork’s-bill.
I have only found it previously on the beach or machair.
8th: It was one of the last days for photos of House Martin nest building as all 3 nests near completion.
This Wheatear has a nest in the wall just beside Sheiling cottage.
There was a Golden Eagle near Treshnish point and a pair from the Ensay-Burg road and 7 Greylags below Ensay farmhouse and 1 at Haunn.
The Dippers on Ensay Burn have not fledged their second brood yet, it is just that they are bringing food to a different nets just below the previous one.
Usual suspects include:
Yellowhammer at Tostary
and Spotted Flycatcher. at Ensay Burn cattle-grid
There was a Mountain Hare near Treshnish boathouse.
My first definite Small Peal-bordered Fritillary today (late for this species).
My 400mm zoom lens works well on butterflies but failed miserably on this beautiful micro-moth which I think is Pyrausta purpuralis.
I was happy to find Parsley-piert at Tostary (it was the first time I had found it myself) but I still have to find it at Treshnish.
7th: Leena told me yesterday she thought there were 2 pairs on the new House Martin nests. She was right there are 6 birds in total! The pair on the right were mating as written in BWP (Birds of the Western Palearctic) with the male singing and pecking the neck of the female then holding her neck as he mounted her. After this she went off for a bit, presumably to feed.
The new nest on the left is finished on one side.
‘Now what did that DNA manual say to do for this bit’
Usual suspects include:
One of the Common Gull chicks has hatched.
6th: A Golden Eagle on Beinn Bhuidhe created a commotion with the gulls, ravens, curlews and crows and later the old male flew west below Treshnish House, landed and moved slowly step by step westwards.
Usual suspects: Fulmars
both on breeding ledges.
The Six-spot Burnet caterpillars have not yet pupated but I found a couple of their yellow cocoons nearby. A Red Admiral was at Treshnish old Schoolhouse and a orange butterfly may have been our first Small Pear-bordered Fritillary of the year (they are exceptionally late).
1 or 2 of the Small-white Orchids which emerged early and got hit by the winds are having a hard time opening
but the later ones are flowering.
I could only find 1 Frog Orchid but it must have flowered early because it is already fading,
Bloody Crane’s-bill is flowering at Treshnish Point.
5th: There was a Whooper Swan at the north end of Loch Frisa
(this is very late for this species) and a Grasshopper Warbler reeling there.
At Loch Frisa there were at least a couple of pairs of Tree Pipits, this one has food for young
and a pair of Bullfinches.
The male Peregrine was at Tobermory. I have heard of at least 4 sightings in the last fortnight and one observer heard it calling loudly. Presumably this means the female was around.
Today it was on the Church of Scotland church tower above the main street. It flew before I got close.
There was a Black-headed Gull at Calgary beach (this species is uncommon in north Mull)
Usual suspects included this Wheatear
In the afternoon the lone House Martin was sitting with a second bird in the quarter-built nest whilst the nest on the left is over half-built but had only 1 bird. I did some research a couple of days ago and found out that it is the male that chooses the nest site and then tries to attract a female. It looks like the mating bond has not been fully formed and that there is only 1 female. It looked as though she had chosen the male on the left but is now having second thoughts. I am hoping that they can still attract another wandering female.
Saw my first Small Heath butterfly at Loch Frisa which is very late and Leena found a Green Hair-streak in out veggie patch. Although I have seen Green Hair-streak late at the latest date of 7th June on the Ross of Mull, this is the latest date for me in north Mull. What started as a good start for this species turned out to be very poor due undoubtedly to the spell of windy weather.
A Fox Moth pupae I took from the moor hatched today.
4th: The Common Gull colony at Treshnish lochan may have hatched its first chicks as they are particularly noisy today.
The House Martins nests are coming on fine.
A Dipper adult was still bringing food to the nest site
and 1 or 2 Short-eared Owls were up Ensay Burn (one of them performing slow shallow wing-beats with wings held high and also a fast quivering with wings held low as it dived). The 7 Greylags were below Ensay farmhouse.
3rd: An adult White-tailed Eagle flew east below Treshnish House with some prey and appeared to turn up Ensay Burn before disappearing out of view.
The House Martins were busy today. Here are the 2 new nests
(this one so far has no mate)
and the old one being rebuilt.
2nd: Yesterday was windy and the House Martins did very little work nest building especially the new ones who virtually did nothing but dab a few spots on my mortar. Today was warm and sunny in the afternoon and they had done a little more but are far behind the old pair who already have the nest half built. The new birds, still only appears to be 3, are starting 2 nests about 3 metres apart. It will be interesting to see how this pans out!
A pair of Redshank at Croig are defending a territory and so obviously breeding.
There was at least 1 Dunlin with the Ringed Plovers at Croig.
There appears to be a Common Gull colony there. This nest is apart from the others and it looks like the chick is about to hatch.
I presume the Eiders at Calgary are coming from their nests in the wood. There are now 3 family groups of 8 ducklings but with 4 females
and 1 male.
who is sleeping on the job.
1st: There were 7 Greylags below Ensay farm-house. Our neighbour saw 2 ducklings up Ensay Burn a couple of days ago so I went to see what species they were (I suspect they are a merganser species). I couldn’t find them but I did find a spot with a pair of Whinchats and 1 Spotted Flycatcher and further up the burn I was surprised to find 2 adult Dippers bringing food to chicks in their nest. This is their second brood.
According to research Dippers only have a second brood about 10% of the time which is usually after an early first brood. They are a lot less nervous this time but the photos were taken in very poor light and drizzle and late in the day. The top photo was taken at 1/30 second and hand held so not bad at all. Clicking on the darker thumbnails will give a better image.
At least one adult was still feeding the previous fledglings on 1st May but this could have been the male. The second brood is laid about 10 days (1-25) after the first brood has fledged.
The first brood fledged on about the 27th April so with an incubation period of 16 days (12-18) and a fledging period of 22 days (20-24), the chicks could leave the nest very soon. In fact before doing this research I thought the birds had built a new nest right below the first (as that is where they were seen taking food) but now I am inclined to think that the nest could be the same but that at least one bird may already have left the nest and was sitting hidden below the nest. If so, I am too late to set up a hide for better shots.
There were 3 female Eider ducks with 3 ducklings at Calgary beach. One of these must be the female I have been seeing for several days. The Shelduck at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary still have 1 duckling.
I follow the 4 satellite-tagged Mull White-tailed Eagles and the 1 remaining Loch Garten Osprey ‘Rothes’. I noticed today that Rothes has started migrating north. She left her wintering Bijagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau on the 23rd and on the 30th was 1000 km miles north, near the coastal border of Mauritania and Western Sahara. Rothes is a 2 year old and it looked like she was going to stay another winter in Africa but that is not the case.
Incidentally Swallows can also migrate late and arrive here in July! Yesterday I found another dead Swallow in the Ensay Burn cattle-grid which obviously starved during the strong winds but many have survived. Yesterday there were at least 20 Swallows around Treshnish House. The wind is up again but should die back tomorrow.
Swallows and martins will obviously have a hard time catching insects with constant winds so the calm predicted for the next few days will be welcome. Last year the Treshnish House Martin pair succeeded in fledging young but the nest collapsed a couple of times and so the fledging was late and the young birds also had to contend with high winds and at least one of them died.
I have roughed up the nest wall to prevent nest collapse, so their breeding should hit the best weather and the insect peak.