Friday, May 25, 2012

UK Holiday - Part 6 - Homeward bound

On our last morning on Mull, I put some bird seed outside our window to see what would come along.  First on the scene, Mr Blackbird. Closely followed by Mrs Chaffinch, then Mr C.   Next were the Greenfinches, then a flash of pink and black, and there were a pair of stunning Bullfinches passing through.

We were heading back to the southern side of Mull to look for Otters and White-tailed Eagle.  No luck with Otters, but plenty of Eiders, and we eventually got great views of the eagle.

On the way back to the ferry we passed two castles, first was Torosay, and then Duart.

As we headed south through Scotland, we stopped at the Falls of Falloch, very picturesque, and also encountered a very confiding Blue Tit there.

We were going to stop with friends in Kirkcudbright, and while we were there went for a couple of walks.  One at Threave Castle and another along the Dee Estuary.  Threave yielded a couple of Hares, an Osprey, some resting Swallows and the local Banded Galloway breed of cattle.

Whilst a frosty walk along the River Dee gave us views of Sedge and Willow Warblers. 

On the way back to England, we passed through Gatehouse of Fleet, and the "big birder" and listened to a lone  piper at Gretna Green.  Another favourite stop of mine is the quaint village of Bibury in the Cotswolds.

Finally, I went to Prawle Point in Devon, to show my cousin Cirl Bunting, and though we only had about 20 minutes there we saw a couple, including this one singing it;s heart out.  Goldfinches were all over the place, as were Grey Squirrels.

Thanks for enjoying our holiday!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

UK Holiday - part 5 - Staffa, Lunga and Puffins

We were heading to the small village of Ulva Ferry, where we boarded the Hoy Lass, bound for the island of Staffa, and then onto Lunga in the Treshnish Islands. This trip is run by Turus Mara, and I can thoroughly recommend them.

Staffa is a small island off Mull and is made up of basalt columns.  It is also the home of Fingals Cave, subject of an overture by Mendelssohn. As we arrived, a couple of Black Guillemots flew up to a nest in the cliff. The water was so clear we could clearly see the Herring Gulls legs as it swam in the sea.

As we headed towards Lunga, we were buzzed by a low flying Gannet.  We also started seeing more Auks. Mainly Guillemots, but there were a few Razorbills in amongst them.  Finally, as we approached Lunga we saw some Puffins, the main reason for our visit.

Once on the island we had a short walk to the area where the Puffins were making their burrows.  They are extremely trusting, and it is possible to get within a metre (3 feet) of them if you move slowly.  They had only just arrived back from wintering in the Atlantic Ocean, so they were busy digging burrows and collecting nest lining, and really didn't take much notice of us at all.

Eventually it was time to leave the Puffins, and head back to Mull.  On the way we passed some Shags, a few Eider Ducks, and a group of seals, basking in the afternoon sunshine.

Friday, May 18, 2012

UK Holiday - Part 4 - Off to Mull

We arrived in Oban late in the day, and after dinner took a walk along the quayside.

The next morning we were off to Mull with Calmac ferries. Straight off the ferry, we headed up to picturesque Tobermory.

We were staying close to Aros Castle, and took a walk there late in the day. The views across the Sound of Mull were breathtaking. Spring flowers were everywhere, and I particularly like to see wild Primroses.  

Next morning we were headed to the Western side of Mull.  We had plenty of time so stopped a few times on the way.  Amongst the birds we saw were Oystercatcher, Hooded Crow, Greylag Goose and our first Wheatear of the trip.