July

31st: A wet windy day. Luckily for the House Martins it is supposed to be calmer and drier in the next couple of days. Last year when they fledged (much later, on 15th September) the weather got pretty bad and at least 1 of the fledglings died within the first 2 days of leaving the nest.
30th: There was a flock of at least 23 Twite at Haunn.
The House Martins do not appear to have fledged. One flew out of the nest but this may have been an adult cleaning out the nest. later there was still at least 1 in the nest.
29th: An adult White-tailed Eagle flew above the coast from Treshnish Point towards Calgary. (A little earlier I saw what I thought was a Golden Eagle along the coast but this was probably the same bird).
The young House Martins of the one remaining nest have been poking their heads outside the nest hole in the last couple of days. One of the adults looked like it was trying to entice them out. They should fledge within the next week.
No sign of the newly fledged Short-eared Owls at the same spot as yesterday although an adult flew around calling at 11pm.
Usual suspects: Twite

It was nice to get a shot of Common Darter on a tree.

The Broad-leaved Helleborine is looking good. I think it the pollinia are still attached, apparently it is fertilized by wasps. If nothing happens I am tempted to try doing one flower manually. There is another flowering plant about 200m away

28th: A Sparrowhawk flew north over Treshnish wood with a prey item.




The Short-eared Owls HAVE fledged, or at least 2 of them have. I think the adults are still bringing food to one or more unfledged young as they brought food to the nest area. Unfortunately the only time I managed to see an adult bring food it cached it! The adults didn’t start flying until 9.30 by which time there is very little light unless they fly high into the sunlight. At 10.45 at least 2 fledglings were seen flying around but keeping within a small area and keeping low to the ground.
Bullfinches were heard as usual in Treshnish wood and a Golden Eagle flew from Cruachan Treshnish to below Treshnish wood and I am pretty sure there was a second bird which stayed on Cruachan Treshnish.
27th: There were at least 2 Bullfinches still in Treshnish wood and at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and male Lesser Redpolls continue to elude my camera even though they are buzzing around all day long.

The male Peregrine is still frequenting the church steeple in Tobermory high street.




There was a female Hen Harrier at Glengorm at exactly the same place as on 29th June.

There was also a family of Buzzards there, this is probably a juvenile


and this fledgling Dunnock was at Quinish.

I am pretty sure we saw a Northern Eggar moth flying in the daytime just before the house on the top of the Glengorm road. It was yellow and bigger than our largest butterfly. I need to check whether this fits the flight period
Carline Thistle is easily found along the coast, this was at Glengorm

below it there were several Thyme Broomrape plants on the cliffs but too far away to photograph without climbing gear!
26th: There was a ring-tailed Hen Harrier on Beinn Reudle and probably same in mid Ensay Burn. The Short-eared Owls may not have fledged after all. An adult was near the nest site but didn’t start hunting before 9.50pm. It was getting too dark to see when it returned.
A Sparrowhawk flew west over Treshnish wood and a male Bullfinch was seen over Treshnish wood
George & Ann Burns saw a Peregrine at Killiechronan.
Usual suspects included this Kestrel.

My first Emerald Damselfly was near the ruined village behind Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.

This Common Darter is turning more red as it matures.

It is getting late for Small Heaths alsthough I have seen them occasionally in mid August.

I found 2 more sites with Lesser Twayblade (20 plants) near yesterday’s site but none had flowers so I didn’t take photos.
25th: There  was a ring-tailed Hen Harrier at the sitheans (gaelic for fairy knoll and pronounced shians) behind Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and later on Beinn Reudle. The old male Golden Eagle was also perched on the sitheans

and flew towards Treshnish wood.





There was a Magpie moth at the site below

Found a new site for Lesser Twayblade near the old ruins below the sitheans. There were at least 16 vegetative plants of this tiny orchid. Last year I found some about 300m away which was the first for Treshnish. There must be more where ever the heather is tall enough.

My little finger gives you an idea of scale and there were even much smaller ones in this patch.

24th: a great photographic opportunity missed today when I had the shutter speed accidentally set too slow as this White-tailed Eagle flew towards our house and then over Treshnish lochan. It has a prey item which would be more clear with a sharp image.


Blackbird fledgling

Song Thrush fledgling

George & Ann Burns saw a Peregrine above Port Haunn.
First Scotch Argus of the year

At Treshnish lochan my first male Common Darter of the year,

as well as Common Blue Damselfly,

adult Blue-tailed Damselfly

and presumably immature Blue-tailed Damselfly

Yesterday a local Broad-leaved Helleborine started to open its first flower but today it was more open.

This is the first flowering plant I have seen here since 2007.
23rd: There was 1 Golden Eagle near Haunn cottages in the morning and a pair half way between Haunn and Treshnish cottages in the early evening.
22nd: Whilst taking photos of an excited Buzzard

this male Golden Eagle flew into the viewfinder.

In the evening I went up Ensay Burn to photograph Short-eared Owls. I only had poor views of one so I am pretty sure either the young have fledged or they have been predated. I would have thought I would have seen lots more activity. I was feeling slightly disappointed and then realised I had seen, not only the Short-eared Owl but a male immature Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Golden Eagle being chased by 2 Buzzards (over Treshnish wood), Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrels all within about one hour.
I took a photo of a Golden-ringed Dragonfly

and then saw it had caught something

I think it is a beetle. Within moments the head was chewed off.


On the 3rd I posted some photographs of some unusual Six-spot Burnet moths and I sent them off to an expert to check that my identification was correct. I was told by Roy Leverton, author of Enjoying Moths who is one of the top most moth experts in Scotland that they were indeed Six-spot but that the last one, with many spots missing, was very unusual. He passed it on to other moth experts, notably Mark Young, another leading Scottish moth expert and author of The Natural History of Moths and Burnet Moths. He was also very excited by this moth and forwarded me a message from Gerry Tremewan who is the burnet moth expert and editor of the Entomologists Gazette who has never seen a moth like this and wants to publish a note about it in his magazine.
That is Mull for you, bend down to look at something and who knows what you could discover!
21st: The road through Treshnish wood is teaming with life. Bullfinches heard, Sparrowhawk, possible Merlin, Buzzard young, getting bolder by the day

and later harassing a Golden Eagle

Treecreeper


Spotted Flycatchers, adults

and fledglings

Blackcap female

fledgling being fed by adults (it is just showing a hint of the red cap)

and terrible photo of male (but full house and proof of breeding)

Lesser Redpoll everywhere, adults

and fledglings

Wren fledglings

loud Blackbird fledgling

Willow Warbler

and Common Darter.

All the butterflies along the Treshnish wood road were Green-veined White which is very unusual on such a warm sunny day. This is pretty much proof as far as I am concerned that this is because of the gale 2 months ago. Inland on the 17th there were loads of Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Meadow Browns and Dark Green Fritillaries which we would normally expect to see on a day like today (the latter in their scores). However the trees really have recovered a lot. The Hazels have probably been hit the worst but even hard hit trees now have a lot of leaves if not a full canopy.
20th: This is the dangerous time for Swallow fledglings. This one was on the ground. It could fly but not enough.

I picked it up and put it up near these.

Usual suspect: Robin

This seal was close in at Treshnish boathouse. I think it is an Atlantic Grey Seal

At Treshnish boathouse this Golden-ringed Dragonfly was laying eggs,

as were these Blue-tailed Damselflies.



I am pretty sure these are both immature stages of Blue-tailed Damselfly.


19th: I don’t know what this fledgling is. I was going to wait to see what adults arrived but it flew off. I think, with the green in the wings that it is a Siskin.


Usual suspects: Buzzard

and Willow Warbler.


A Mountain Hare was on the Ensay side of Treshnish wood.
I went to check on our local population of helleborines. The most exciting news is that I found 8 new plants of Narrow-leaved Helleborine. One plant has a fruit


and 5 others had flowered. This is at a site that I checked in June 2010. It is a pity I didn’t see them this year because 6 flowering plants would have been quite a site. This brings the total population up to 20-21 plants with 2 fruiting plants this year (the other fruiting plant also has one fruit). In 2006 the known population was 1! I presume I must have missed these new plants last year although I did find much smaller Broad-leaved Helleborines that day. I am sure they couldn’t have been flowering last year but in their vegetative state they are quite difficult to see. Here is one of today’s plants beside a grass. You can also see where the flowers have fallen.

there won’t be many years in which this population betters Calgary but I doubt they had any fruiting plants this year as they were very badly hit by the May gale whereas this local population had some shelter.
Two of the Broad-leaved Helleborines in the local population should open their flowers in the next few days.


I found a new plant at a spot where i found new plants at the end of May which brings the total plants in this population to 10. In 2007 I knew of only one plant which was easy to find because it flowered.
One of the plants has been eaten by sheep, cattle or deer. It is a strange strategy to flower so late. These plants take 2 months to flower. There must be an advantage, presumably their pollinator emerges late too but it makes them very vulnerable to herbivores.
Nearby was this Amanita battarrae a rare fungi.

18th: A Willow Warbler was trapped temporarily in our anti Hare and Deer net.

I think this Spotted Flycatcher is a garden ‘tick’.

A trip to look for a reported Bog Billbery in north Mull did not produce the plant (which would be new to Mull) but I did find a Hen Harrier nest site with recently fledged young and a low flying White-tailed Eagle but I didn’t have a powerful enough camera. On the forest road up there were 5 or 6 Crossbills.
At Ardalanish there were 3 Sanderlings (sorry for so many, will delete some later)



















and at least 2 Dunlins,

1 Arctic Skua

2 Great Skuas.

and a Red-throated Diver flying inland with a fish.

There were 16 Canada Geese near Killiechronan.

Usual suspects:

Gannets


At the possible Bog Billbery site there was a Emperor Moth caterpillar. I have seen it before but never at this stage (instar).

I had to walk along a forest road which had lots of Grayling butterflies. They love rock habitats.


There was also a lot of New Zealand Willowherb which also likes disturbed ground.


On the walk to the site I found a Guelder-rose beside a stream. It is uncommon on Mull. The 2 bushes at Treshnish are on cliff sides but this was accessible.


At Ardalanish I saw my first Perennial Sow-thistle flowers (they were in bud on previous visits).

and later I had this identified by our vice-county recorder as Smooth Sow-thistle (a new species for me)

which I know is supposed to be in north-west Mull but I don’t seem able to find it (all the Sow-thistles I see look to me like Prickly).
Another plant that was identified for me was also a new plant for me, Sea Beet Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima.

I need to look for it in flower as I may have been confusing it with an orache. It is rare this far north.
16th: The juvenile Bullfinches are still coming to our Blackcurrants.

15th: There was a male Hen Harrier in Black Park field before Haunn.
14th: The juvenile Bullfinches have finally discovered our Blackcurrants which we have left for them this year. They also like the docks. There were 3 of them but no adults. I had to photograph through the glass of a window.




Although the Common Gull colony is very quiet (no alarm calls from the adults), all the young must have fledged but there are still a couple of fledglings on the crags there.

One of the House Martins has a missing flight feather so now it is possible to see which adult is which.
There was a Whinchat in Black Park field just before Haunn. It obviously has young but it has kept very secret until now.

This was nearby and I think it is a juvenile Robin.

A Common Scoter came very close in to the west of Treshnish boathouse. They are very scarce in north Mull although they sometimes stay for  few weeks.



It began feeding and I was about to try to get closer when I was distracted by this Mink.




I had to stand up to get the mink shots and this and the dogs pushed the scoter further out. This mink was seen at exactly the same spot as the Otter 3 days ago.A family of mink were seen by Craig last week to the south of Port Haunn.
Usual suspects: Common Sandpiper


and Oystercatcher.

13th: The dogs accidentally flushed into the air a couple of small quail like birds in the boathouse meadow. They turned out to be Pheasants as a mother pheasant was also there.
This adult Lesser Redpoll has a ring on its leg and was feeding recently fledged young.

Unfortunately it is not colour-coded so it will be impossible to trace without mist-netting it.
Twite at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.


More shots of recently fledged Common Gull


Swallow chicks in the Nissen-hut by Treshnish wood.

A Lizard allowed me the chance to test my new close up lens on my Lumix FZ38.

I am pretty sure these (taken with other cameras) are all Blue-tailed Damselflies



A Grayling butterfly was at Treshnish boathouse (my first of the year).
12th: A thud behind the recycling shed and the commotion of the Swallows alerted me to a raptor. I crept around to get a view and unfortunately scared it off but at least the Starling/Blackbird, which escaped, was happy. As it flew off I had a quick glimpse of a female Sparrowhawk. Guests at Sheillng also saw a Peregrine at Crackaig.
This time of the year there are usually Siskins gorging themselves on the sorrel in the ungrazed grass around Treshnish House.

Other usual suspects include:
dusting Skylark

Buzzards
worn adult

and its fresh plumaged young.

and Lesser Redpoll.

An Otter was fishing to the west of Treshnish boathouse.




It was diving in deep water and would surface with a leap and then dive with a double leap with the tail gliding into the water at an angle rather than the normal vertical flick of the tail. I haven’t noticed this kind of diving before. This is the second part of the dive sequence




Here is another with the tail.




At Treshnish Old Schoolhouse there was a Common Darter and at Treshnish House a Common Hawker whilst at Treshnish boathouse there was Golden-ringed Dragonfly

and a female Blue-tailed Damselfly (I an told it is the form infuscans-obsoleta).

Guests at Sheiling saw a Grayling butterfly along the coast between Haunn and Crackaig which is our first of the year (but on time – my earliest is on 7th July). They also tell me there are still plenty Small Pearl-bordered at Ardmeanach. I haven’t seen one for a couple of weeks which is normal for Treshnish except this year they were over almost before they began. Dark Green Fritillaries are also very scarce this year at Treshnish (hopefully there is still time for them to peak). I put it down to the storm in May, which hit the north-west of Mull particularly badly. I think it must have killed off either the caterpillars or their food-plants. The Six-spot Burnet moths have been unaffected and had a bumper year.

11th: A Sparrowhawk flew west along the shore to Treshnish Point (they are rare here in the breeding months). The sounds of Lesser Redpolls were everywhere in the in-by meadows but it is hard to get good photos.

Twite


and Short-eared Owl





My first Common Darter of the year along the farm road through Treshnish wood.

I found a new patch of at least 33 Field Gentian plants and 2 Wood Bitter-vetch above Treshnish boathouse. Here is a nice patch of Harebells in Skoma field.

and Cap asking for stick throwing in the boathouse meadow

and

10th: It looks as though all the Common Gulls have fledged from the Treshnish lochan colony although 2 have still not left the lochan area.

There was 1 male Hen Harrier and at least 1 Golden Eagle on Cruachan Treshnish and a male Blackcap in Treshnish wood where Bullfinch was heard.
Usual suspects: Lesser Redpoll



Pied Wagtail male with food

for young

Whitethroat fledgling

9th: Unfortunately the second new House Martin nest has been predated by a male House Sparrow. A fairly large unfeathered dead chick and some of the nest lining was below the nest and the cock sparrow was calling from the gutter above the nest trying to attract a mate to the nest.
Yesterday I put some wire mesh around the last years nest (now the only one with chicks) because I was unsure whether they had built on to the lip of my reinforcement or built up from the wall itself. I was pretty confident it would hold if the latter but not the former. Anyway after seeing what the House Sparrows had done I took the mesh down. The sparrows would find it easier to predate that nest too if they had mesh to perch on. The nest is under an sliding door awning so might be hard for a sparrow to get to. Hopes of seeing 15-20 House Martins flying around the buildings have been dashed. Very disappointing.
The fledging period for House Martins is about 27 days so assuming the chicks hatched a few days ago they may fledge in the first week of August.
Later an unusual call alerted me to the maiden flight of one of the Common Gull chicks from Treshnish lochan. It followed a parent to the shore below Treshnish house and later still it was on the rocks and water begging for food.


The parents were very protective against the larger gulls. 
There was also a Common/Arctic Tern flying into the bay and 2 Golden Eagles on Cruachan Treshnish.

8th: Good news: 2 of the House Martin nests have hatched chicks. The one from last year looks like it may have hatched a couple of days ago judging by the amount of droppings. The third pair did not return to rebuild their fallen nest. Today one of the new nests had a visit from a House Sparrow which alarmed one of the adults. Hopefully they haven’t done any harm. Do they predate eggs or chicks, I wonder what it was doing?
5 Shelducks flew west below Treshnish House, 1 Peregrine flew west over Treshnish wood and today there was an Arctic Tern below Treshnish House.



Usual suspects included this Rock Pipit.

A dog Otter caught at least 2 fish and a lobster to the east of Treshnish boathouse




and towards Calgary the bay monster.






There were a few plants of Scots Lovage to the east of Treshnish boathouse.

7th: There was 1 Arctic Tern in Calgary bay. The Common Terns in Calgary bay must be breeding somewhere nearby. There were 2 in the afternoon, one caught a fish and flew from the beach area to the west.





There was also a Red-throated Diver near the beach


and this was near Calgary boathouse and is probably a juvenile Lesser Redpoll.


6th: 2 immature/female Bullfinches in our potato patch flew off as I raised my camera but an immature Robin on our deer and hare protector was less shy.

There were 4 terns in Calgary Bay. At least 2 were definitely Common Terns







but this one could have been an Arctic Tern.

Usual suspects include: Eider.

This Dark Mullein was on beside the road in Calgary.


I haven’t seen it on Mull before and I wonder if it is a garden escape as it is not in the Mull Flora.
5th: Usual suspect: Wheatear near nest.

Saw my first adult Common Hawker of the year along the farm road through Treshnish wood.
4th: A trip to the Ross gave views of a White-tailed Eagle bringing a fish back to the nest

2 Red-throated Divers

a Hen Harrier
and a mother Otter with 2 cubs

I was told about some Sea-holly


which is very rare on Mull. In fact here it has only ever been positively recorded on Iona where the last record is from 1955. There is one possible Mull record and that was at Treshnish Point in 1967! That record is doubted by the authors of the Mull Flora who considered there to be no suitable habitat here (sand dunes).
I thought this was Burnet-saxifrage but I think it is Wild Carrot

I also found some Sea Fern Grass which is rare on Mull.

This vetch on the dunes was puzzling. I looks like Bush Vetch but only has single flowers and only 3 pairs of leaves. That would point to Spring Vetch which is rare on Mull (1 record from Knockvologan) but that does not have a branched tendril which this one clearly shows. I have been told that it is either Spring Vetch or Common Vetch and I have to go and check it but now I am pretty sure it must be Common Vetch, which is a new species for me.


For comparison this is Bush Vetch


3rd: The House Martins do not seem to be rebuilding the collapsed nest, although there may have been a spot of fresh mud. Last year when the nest collapsed with eggs inside the pair started re-building the next day. I hope they give it another go. There is still time. Last year the nest collapsed on the 10th of July. A Common or Arctic Tern flew past Treshnish Point. A Cormorant flew to the cliffs between Port Haunn and Lòn Reudle. I hope I have not missed breeding here!
Fledglings are everywhere: Wheatear

Willow Warbler


and Whitethroat

and then there were three

and Sedge Warbler parents with food


2 Harbour Porpoises south of Lunga on 3 July (Treshnish Isles Auk Ringing Group).
I continue to look for the rare Slender Scotch Burnet moth at Treshnish although it is getting a bit late in the season. I didn’t find any or any Transparent Burnets which we are here most years but there were hundreds of Six-spot Burnets at Treshnish Point.

These 4 are copulating

These ones look like Slender Scotch in that the outer 2 spots are merged but the legs are too dark and so I am pretty sure they are just Six-spots.


This one is very strange, it almost looks like a Cinnabar moth but the club antenna show it to be a Burnet.

This is the cocoon and pupal remains.

Presumably this one emerged and immediately attracted a mate for copulation, you can see the cocoon below them.

Also a Magpie moth was seen in the daytime.

There are very few butterflies around, presumably because of the gale. Today there were sightings of about 5 Meadow Browns (my first of the year)

and 2 large fritillaries which were presumably Dark Green Fritillary., which I have not definitely seen yet this year (this is late for first sightings of these species) There were a couple of Common Blues and probably only about 5 Small Heaths but no Small Pearl-bordered although I did not walk through the best meadows. There was also a Speckled Wood beside Treshnish wood.
I looked more carefully at Wood Bitter-vetch which is fairly common at Treshnish because it is supposed to be very similar to Wood Vetch. The leaves are very different (Wood Vetch has smaller leaves and more pairs and has a terminal tendril). Most of the flowers are pinkish on Wood Bitter-vetch

especially the sepals

but some are more white so look similar to Wood Vetch.

Field Gentian is flowering near Toechtamhor gate and has been since at least the 28th of June.

A favourite of mine is Pale Butterwort. You can see the insects stuck to the glands.

This Pasley-piert was found between Port Haunn and Crackaig. It is a new plant for Treshnish.

Bloody Crane’s-bill is doing well at Treshnish Point.

2nd: Bad news this morning. One of the House Martin nests has collapsed. There was one egg on the ground in which the embryo was half way developed. I have mortared around the other new nest to stop it falling too and roughed up even more the wall where the other nest fell from. There is still time to lay a replacement brood but if they start re-building it will be about 66 days before the chicks fledge. Before sunset a pair were coming to the remains of the broken nest and sitting on the new mortar so hopefully tomorrow they will start building again.
At Haunn I caught a brief glimpse of a possible Swift.
The nearby Short-eared Owls don’t start flying in the evening until almost 9pm, which limits photographic opportunities.




This was the best opportunity but it saw a Buzzard and took off.

A shot of it attacking the Buzzard was out of focus!
Usual suspects include: Swallow


and Common Sandpiper.

I keep track of Rothes the satellite tagged Osprey from Loch Garten. The most recent update is that on the 26th she finally left Africa to cross the straits of Gibraltar and is making good progress. Her most recent point, on the 30th of June, was 50km north of the Spanish-French border. At this rate she could be back in Scotland in about a week but no doubt she will stop off to hunt. It will be interesting to see if she stops for a while north of Bordeaux where she sopped on her only southern migration nearly 2 years ago.

1st: I had distant view of a Short-eared Owl. It should be possible to tell the individuals of this pair apart as this one has a wing feather(s) missing.


A pod of 3 adult Killer Whales off west coast of Lunga.
Also single Minke Whales on four evenings, between 27 June and 1 July to the west of Harp Rock
and earlier in the day on 28 June to the east of Lunga. A second individual was possibly present with the animal watched feeding off Harp Rock on 30 Jun (Treshnish Isles Auk Ringing Group).

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