The Magazine and pdf version of Birds of Treshnish and North Mull is now available here. The price for the Magazine is £15 for 92 pages with 63 photos. Unfortunately the postage is an extra £4.99. If you buy one, a second is then offered for 30% off, so it makes sense to buy with a friend, because then two copies comes to £31.49 including postage. The pdf version is £ 6.50 plus VAT and is available at the same link as above. The pdf is suitable for most e-book readers.
21st: 1 Swift over Treshnish wood, a Buzzard was seen by others taking a Common Gull chick from their colony.
20th: The pdf version of Birds of Treshnish and North Mull is now available, see above.
19th: The Common Tern nest found on the 4th in north Mull is still active
and the nearby Arctic Tern nest has 3 eggs.
The latter is very vulnerable to disturbance so it will be a miracle if it succeeds. I very quickly checked if there were eggs, took a photo and left immediately.
This White Wagtail is very late in the year.
3 Dunlin (the top 3 photos are of the subspecies alpina).
This photo shows the subspecies alpina on the left, schinzii (the UK subspecies) on the right and a probable (long bill) alpina still in mostly winter plumage in the middle.
Group of Greylag Geese with several goslings between Ensay Burn mouth and the road.
3 Mountain Hares.
My first Transparent Burnet of the year.
Also saw a largish yellow day-flying moth which didn’t seem to fly erratic enough to be a Wood Tiger (note to myself – near Early Marsh-orchids).
My first Dark Green Fritillary of the year.
It is very unusual to start seeing the two common fritillaries at the same time but Small Pear-bordered which normally emerges 2 or 3 weeks earlier is very late this year.
My first Frog Orchids of the year (of 8)
alongside 2 flowering Common Twayblades and 2 vegetative with other vegetative nearby (much smaller than those at Treshnish).
My first Early Marsh-orchids of the year (of 10)
18th: A female Grey Wagtail with 2 fledglings at Ensay Burn mouth, so perhaps they have bred further up the stream or they have moved down from upper Ensay Burn. Either way a very welcome sight after a 3 year breeding absence. Wood Pigeon and young Buzzard calling in Treshnish wood, which reminds me I heard a Tawny Owl calling in the wood during the daytime about 10 days ago.
1 Greenfinch on the rocks a Ensay Burn mouth eating the Thrift. It was great to see it in such a natural habitat. 1 tern seen briefly at Ensay Burn mouth.
I am pretty sure that Leena’s young Mountain Hare was actually a Rabbit. Today they were both together in our garden. The Rabbit jumped around as if it had flees and jumped at the hare which was a bit startled but just moved away about a foot.
There were at least 6 fresh Thyme Broomrapes (not fully open) along the shore and newly opened Greater Butterfly-orchids
and Common Spotted-orchids
and beautiful flowering carpets of Sea Sandwort and Sea Milkwort.
17th: A distant raptor flying along the shore towards Calgary looked like something interesting, perhaps a Marsh Harrier or Red Kite. I took photos and thought that it did indeed look like a Marsh Harrier. I wrote for help and an expert has replied ‘On balance, this probably is a female Marsh Harrier although it’s difficult to be certain’. Here are the shots. The first one shows a pale crown
1 Greenfinch calling in Treshnish wood. I wonder if they have bred this year, if so it will be a first for Treshnish, as far as I know.
Willow Warbler busy catching insects for its young.
The caterpillar is a Mottled Umber moth (my first as a caterpillar).
Guests Graham and Angie saw 2 juvenile Heron’s Ensay Burn mouth on the 12th. This can’t be from the pair whose nest collapsed. Craig found the new nest on the 25th April with broken eggs below and the nest looked damaged and virtually non existent on the 29th April (although there was still activity here). From laying to fledging should be at least 67 days so these juveniles must be from another pair. About a week ago on about the 12th I heard a lot of Heron noises in the wood.
Pod of at least 5 adults and 2 calf Bottle-nosed Dolphins in mouth of Calgary bay heading north.
Saw a Rabbit in our garden! Our first and not welcome. There are more rabbits this year at Treshnish than I’ve ever seen. Come on goldies, do your stuff.
My first Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary today at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse although others have seen it in the last few days. The Mortley’s have been seeing Green Hair-streaks for over a week at Frachadil but I haven’t seen one yet.
The Narrow-leaved Helleborine near our house looks like it might set seed. The ovaries appear to be swelling. In a couple more days they will either swell more or drop off.
Here are Andrew Mortley’s recent photos of leverets.
16th: Today’s entry is difficult to write. Went looking for Wood Tigers again, this timed armed with a butterfly net just in case. [Reminds me of Lillian Beckwith’s book A Rope in Case]. Whilst walking to the area, at 7pm I was distracted by a Short-eared Owl which I watched for 45 minutes hoping to see it with prey. For a while a few Common Gulls got agitated and I thought I saw a Sparrowhawk but wasn’t sure it could have been a Cuckoo and I couldn’t see any other raptors. The Short-eared Owl wasn’t bothered and I continued watching it, through my binoculars, hunting around Reudle Schoolhouse. As I was watching I heard another Short-eared Owl calling. I looked up and saw a much darker Short-eared Owl which I haven’t seen before in the area, dive bombing something, which through binoculars turned out to be a Golden Eagle (not the old male) on prey which I am sure was a chick. The other owl came to join its mate and they both attacked the eagle; the darker bird was much more aggressive and was actually hitting the eagle presumably raking it with its claws. Eventually the eagle flew off without carrying the owlet.
The pale bird (presumably the male) almost immediately continued hunting and was followed soon after by the dark bird. Life must go on and they have themselves and presumably other chicks to feed.
I missed seeing the Golden Eagle make the attack. I have some shots of the owls attacking the eagle but they are too distant to post.
I am guessing that carrying the prey away would have left the eagle unable to defend itself from the two owls which could have inflicted serious damage.
No one thinks that Golden Eagles are living on bird seed but to see another large raptor taken is an upsetting dose of reality.
More uplifting was seeing a Barn Owl at 11.45 flying low over Treshnish wood.
The Mountain Hare was in our garden again but not with any young (not sure at what age they cease to be leverets). The other day, our neighbour, Andrew Mortley showed me a photo of a pile of leverets they found near Craignure, bums sticking out of the furry pile.
I also had 3 sightings of Wood Tigers and there were some Magpie Moths larvae but they weren’t so obviously visible as the other day and I only saw 3 (I looked at the exact spot where we saw about 30 and with a quick look only saw 1).
15th: Group of 5 Twite near gate at west side of Black Park field. I couldn’t figure out if it was a family group or not. Recently I have seen only pairs.
Leena saw an adult Mountain Hare with 1 youngster in our garden. Obviously the adult (female?) has had its young hid away fairly close by. I wonder if we will see more youngsters.
13th: At least 1 Harbour Porpoise off from Duart Castle, at least 4 House Martins obviously breeding (at Post Office?) at Craignure, 4 Common Terns at Ladies Rock outer lighthouse in the morning and 4 Arctic Terns to the north west of the inner lighthouse in the late afternoon, 2 probable Common Terns at Craignure in late afternoon, 1 Black-head Gull at Killiechronan, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow at Kilninian and a pair of Wood Pigeons at Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
Otter at sandbanks of Killiechronan.
The reared Magpie moth has pupated and turned into the same striped pupal cases found yesterday so no need to wait for them to emerge to know what they are.
12th: Leena and I found over a thousand Magpie moth caterpillars in the area where the Wood Tigers area. I don’t know if I have just been blind or if they have come to the tops of the heather to pupate.
There at least 15 just on this clump of heather
I found a couple of pupal cases which I thought could be Magpies but as I have never seen them before I wasn’t sure.
I also saw 1 Wood Tiger (it was not warm and not very sunny), 1 Six-spot Burnet cocoon and 1 Emperor Moth cocoon.
A Heath Rustic, penultimate instar in same area
and ‘almost certainly’ Dotted Border (Roy Leverton in litt.). The latter two are firsts for me in the caterpillar stage.
The reared Magpie moth is beginning to pupate.
11th: Fledged Rock Pipits by Treshnish boathouse. No sign of activity at the Heron nest in Treshnish wood although the adult could be hunkered down in the nest. There were 2 pairs of Fulmars on the north-east corner of Treshnish Point; one pair flew off so obviously haven’t laid and the other pair were exhibiting courtship rituals on the ledge.
1 Mountain Hare on tidal rooks below Treshnish House and another in Black Park.
The Bird’s-nest Orchid doesn’t look like it is going to emerge this year. A pity as I was looking forward to that. Four more of the known Broad-leaved Helleborines are emerging although none look as though they are going to flower. (Note to self: 1 more near Narrow-leaved near by concrete ramp), 1 by avalanche, 1 by stream and 1 at new site by Bird’s-nest Orchids). Common Twayblade is flowering in Treshnish wood, some Northern Marsh Orchids flowering by the shore below Treshnish House, the flowering Narrow-leaved Helleborine in Treshnish wood looks fantastic and hopefully this one and the one by our house will fertilise each other although with the hot weather the latter is beginning to lose its freshness. There are at least a couple of Small-white orchids with open florets at Toechtamhor but I didn’t see an Greater Butterfly-orchids with open florets and same goes for Fragrant Orchids. (although I wouldn’t be surprised if some were found with a more careful look). At least 2 Thyme Broomrape plants are emerging and the Thale Cress is seeding.
10th: A juvenile White-tailed Eagle flew over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse towards the sitheans but I was too slow and camera was on wrong exposure. I went up to see if it stayed around but couldn’t find it. Golden Eagle pair of Cruachan Treshnish and the hill between the Cruchan and Glac Gugairidh.
as he got closer he blinked
Meadow Pipit fledgling.
Glac Gugairidh from the hill to north.
9th: Pair of Golden Eagles on the hill between Crackaig and Beinn Duill (surprisingly that hill has no name), male Hen Harrier carrying prey item in direction of Beinn an Lochain (but I lost sight of it when I switched from camera to binoculars). I don’t think I have ever seen a Hen Harrier taking prey from Treshnish before. 2 House Martins over Treshnish wood but so far no signs of nest building.
1 Short-eared Owl on the sitheans and Leena saw pale owls twice at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. I think 1 was probably a Short-eared Owl because I saw it heading that way at about that time but she also saw an owl an hour earlier which may have been a Barn Owl.
I don’t think I have seen so many Cuckoos here as this year.
Tiger hunting again and same result but did find a beautiful Northern Eggar.
A Broad-leaved Helleborine is emerging – about 2″ high and looks to be non flowering (note to myself: the one by the nibbled Narrow-leaved Helleborine at top of concrete ramp).
8th: At about 11pm last night I thought I heard a Barn Owl calling once around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse but I wasn’t sure but I also thought I saw something flying outside but maybe it was just a close up moth. Then at 3am (8th) one was flying around our garden and landed on our gate post less than 20m away (my first sighting of the year). Too dark for photos but it is [they are] still around. I was beginning to think that it was a passing male looking for a mate because I haven’t heard it since the night of 1st although I am more confident that the one on the night of the 4th was a Barn Owl (it is very rare to see the Tawnys outside of the wood).
Found the Short-eared Owl nest site on the south side of the Cruachan (a place I walk by often on the way back from Crackaig). It seemed to be a slightly different spot to yesterday but from a different view point I can’t be sure. I watched an adult bring 2 voles back to 2 spots about 20-30m apart so the young are already walking around. It is a very clever survival strategy as any predator will not be able to find them easily. The adult landed close by and waited both times a couple of minutes to check for predators. It looks like there is only 1 adult doing the hunting. Perhaps the other has died or it just comes out later.
I male Hen Harrier flying from Cruachan Treshnish over Reudle Schoolhouse and Red Grouse heard on Cruachan Treshnish and near Reudle bog.
Guests saw what they thought were 4 or 5 Minke Whales in mouth of Calgary bay,
Went to try to photograph Wood Tiger moths again and although there were at least 4 or 5 but up to 10-20 couldn’t even get a look of a static moth. Lots of Magpie Moth caterpillars (5 without even looking) in the same area.
A beautiful Small Phoenix found on our house whilst painting.
7th: Female and later male Golden Eagle on crag behind Reudle Schoolhouse. The male stayed until 9.50pm. I have recently discovered this is afavourite perch and visible from the road. Look along the Treshnish boundary wall at Reudle Schoolhouse and at the top there is a crag. They often perch here.
At 7.40pm the calling Short-eared Owl alerted me when the female Golden Eagle flew. I could either see/hear the owl for most of the evening up until 10pm when the owl took a vole towards Cruachan Treshnish but it actually stopped at the lower slopes and after a few minutes there must have been a food delivery. So now I know where the nest area is. It also explains why it was calling whilst I was looking for the moths because the nest must have been quite close by.
Red Grouse heard from the sitheans (sounded like above the wind turbines).
1 Mountain Hare behind Duill cottage and 1 in our garden.
Several very flighty orange moths up the heathery valley south of the sitheans which I am pretty sure must have been Wood Tigers. This species is often very hard to see close up as it takes off out of heather spirals quite high in a jerky flight and as it comes down seems to vanish so I never see where it lands but at least this year I am in with a chance because it didn’t fly far. They flew very infrequently when the sun was behind the cruachan. There were at least 5 but probably more like a dozen. Wood Tiger is a very beautiful moth so tomorrow I will try again. I;ve never seen it on Treshnish farm before although I have seen what I am sure must be this species near the road above Reudle Schoolhouse. I have also seen it in 4 other sites in north Mull including the hills above Ensay Burn.
I also found a Magpie Moth larva which happened to be in the frame whilst taking a photo of a Common Heath moth. The light was against me so it isn’t worth posting. The one I am rearing has started to grow quickly. For the first couple of weeks it ate very little but now it is feeding well on the Blackcurrant leaves I provide. It should pupate in a week or so.
The lower sithean, Coll and South Uist from the south at 10.15pm.
6th: At least 2 Starling nests in Calgary Farmhouse wood
also 1 Spotted Flycatcher. Wood Pigeon seen again in Treshnish wood (no more comments on this unless they disappear or if there is further proof of breeding), Greylgags still in fields below Treshnish wood. There were 2 House Martins over Treshnish wood, hopefully this is the returning residents.
Lesser Black-backed Gull on Calgary machair.
At least 144 flowering Narrow-leaved Helleborines in Calgary Art in Nature Walk. I’ve never seen them looking so large and robust.
5th: 1 adult White-tailed Eagle flying from Dun Haunn to Treshnish Point (possibly with white tags), 1 Collared Dove flying towards Treshnish House, Wood Pigeon heard and 1 seen again in Treshnish wood (sure sign they are breeding), a distant Cuckoo on Beinn Duill had a white throat. I have sent photos to have checked but I am pretty sure it was just a cuckoo. But it was gliding more than expected (there is a dim chance it was something more exotic like a Red-footed Falcon).
The Spring Squill is at its peak. The light was too strong for photos but they were abundant, a delicate blue that only just catches the eye; ghost flowers.
The late, vegetative Narrow-leaved Helleborine near us has been half nibbled by something, maybe a Mountain Hare. I have covered it with a plastic pot at least it will store some reserves for next year.
4th: Just heard to day about Mealy Redpolls on the bird feeder at the Sunipol turn off. Thye have been frequenting the feeder apparently throughout the last week see mullbirds website. I went to look today but the feeder was empty and it looks like the owners have stopped feeding. I’ve never seen a Redpoll other than Lesser so I am sorry to have missed them. This is the first record of this species or any non Lesser Redpoll for north Mull and is an official Argyll rarity. I wish visiting birders would take pity on us poor mull birders and let us know of rarities sooner. The same birder heard and saw Water Rail at Dervaig.
Highlight today was finding a Common Tern nest with 1 egg in north Mull.
We left immediately.
I didn’t realise they sometimes lay on the ‘mainland,’ I thought they nested on islets. I presume it will lay more eggs, 1 eggs is rare (4%), the norm is 3 (59%) or 2 (37%). Nearby there were a pair of Arctic Terns looking very much like they were about to breed at exactly the same spot as they showed interest in last year (but this latter site is very vulnerable to disturbance). The male fished in front us bringing fish to the female but I didn’t approach the potential nest.
There were also at least 2 more Common Terns fishing here and also 4 comtic terns at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
My first Greylag Geese with 2 goslings at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary but I think that they must have been greyalg goslings at Dervaig on the 2nd.
1 male Hen Harrier at Cillichroisd, 1 Short-eared Owl at Reudle Schoolhouse from when I arrived at 9.40pm off and on for 20 minutes (didn’t see it taking prey to a nest), 1 Golden Eagle at exactly the same spot where I was sitting last night on Cruachan Treshnish up until 10.15pm. At 11.30pm an owl flew along the farm road in front of our house. I presume it was a Barn Owl.
1 Mountain Hare in field below Treshnish turn off.
I thought it was time to see if the Minke Whale skull was still there. Last time I saw it, it had been washed up even higher onto the grass.
It was still there and I even managed to find the atlas vertebrae that I had accused someone of taking! One of the lower jaw bones was missing
and also the largest broken off piece of the skull but otherwise everything was there (photos from last year, missing bone on far left)
and I even managed to find a new vertebrae. Obviously I had underestimated the height of the autumn and spring tides. I will look around for the other lower mandible. It is so heavy it is unlikely to have gone far. I rolled the skull up the hill step by step, still very smelly work.
The Narrow-leaved Helleborines in Calgary Art in Nature walk are stupendous. I will try and count them tomorrow.
3rd: I heard today about a second sighting of a Black Stork which was seen at Fanmore, this time at Dervaig, both on the 26th. What a thing to see on your holiday, see mullbirds website.
Red Grouse calling near Reudle Schoolhouse, on Cruachan Treshnish and near Reudle bog. I’ve never heard them so much before even though they called very little.
Went on the Cruachan to see where the Short-eared Owl was bringing food on previous recent visits. At 8.40 one flew towards me (not sure where it came from) and I almost got a good shot.
Then it flew down to the nest site from last couple of years and hunted near the road in sunshine, exactly where i have been waiting on the previous nights. I managed to follow it for 10 minutes or so and then it disappeared and I didn’t see it again even though I was watching up until 10.30.
Pair of Golden Eagles on crags above Reudle Schoolhouse and a martin that was probably a House Martin on Cruachan Treshnish (is there still time for them to build a nest at Treshnish). I heard a very strange noise on the Cruachan; a loud sharp eee-aaa (no donkeys up there). I shall have to check if it is part of the female cuckoo’s calls (the Cuckoos were going absolutely crazy).
Mountain Hare at Treshnish lochan.
My first dragonfly of the year, a Four-spotted Chaser at Treshnish lochan which is back to its old level (see Carolyne’s blog). It should get much higher if we get some rain.
The Narrow-leaved Helleborine by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
This photo is really how it looked over Coll to South Uist.
2nd: Wood Pigeon flushed from possible nest site in Treshnish wood and heard calling for extended period a little later and into the evening. Best evidence of breeding so far.
Still no sign of recovery of Grey Wagtails in the Treshnish area e.g. Ensay Burn. They crashed after the cold winters of 3 and 4 years ago and although there has been some signs of recovery on Mull it is very slow. Birds of Argyll states that this species is susceptible to cold winters but has been known to recover quickly (after cold winter of 1981/82).
Highlight today was a family of Goosanders swimming upstream by the bridge at Dervaig.
These large duckings crossed the road at Dervaig. I have no idea what they are. Mallard?
Also 6 Eider ducklings with 2 females off Calgary beach.
Doing the Breeding Bird Survey at Loch frisa always gives me the chance to catch up with Tree Pipits. As areas are felled their numbers increase.
Calling Red-throated Diver at Loch Frisa, 1 Dunlin & 3 Redshank at Dervaig, male Hen Harrier at know breeding area in Dervaig – Torloisk valley, Collared Dove at Kilninian. Extremely noisy Starling at nest hole at Torloisk.
Curious juvenile Raven.
This shows the red gape.
1 Mountain Hare on Ensay side of Treshnish wood and 1 in our garden,
1 Mink at Loch Frisa fish farm.
Several Speckled Yellows at Loch Frisa (this is confirmation of what I thought I saw last year). I’ve only seen this day flying moth elsewhere at Glengorm.
The second Narrow-leaved Helleborine near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse is emerging. The leaf tips have been chewed slightly but no real damage. It is about 5″ tall. I checked every day except yesterday. So I was surprised that I missed it. It doesn’t look like it is big enough for flowers. Once in the seven years I have been recording, this spot had 2 plants. I checked the one in Treshnish wood and it is also going to flower but it is no where near as robust as the one near our house. I had to part the leaves, which are starting to fan out, to see if there was a bud whereas the other one had a bud poking beyond the leaves. Perhaps with the warm weather the leaves fan out earlier. I also checked briefly part of the nearby site and found 4 in flower and 3 vegetative. I only looked at part of this site to avoid disturbance (vegetative plants look very much like grass). With at least 6 flowering plants within pollinating distance, fruiting is very possible.
No sign of any growth yet with the Bird’s-nest Orchids.
1st: 1 adult White-tailed Eagle at Haunn and on Cruachan Treshnish. At 11.45 a Barn Owl was heard near the Ensay Burn owl box.