My last blog finished with the promise or hint of a peregrine food pass, these spectacular birds fascinate me their ability to switch between ferocious brutality when hunting to tender care when tending their youngsters is awesome!
While we operate the viewpoint primarily for the peregrines there are lots of other great wildlife sightings to enjoy. Stoat chasing a rabbit for example...
Our home for the week was one we had been to before, owned by two professional biologists it attracts some special visitors. Food is provided to help the cottage occupants see pine martens and badgers, a mixture of fruit and nuts are supplied along with detailed advice on quantities to ensure the food is only supplementary and not habit changing or dangerous to the wildlife. More on that later!
From our previous visit we knew a white tailed eagle nest was not far away so our venture was there, success within.....hours!
The grey light in the photograph became a theme for the week unfortunately and hampered photography but at least we got out every day.
The area holds good populations of red deer...
Pine martens are largely nocturnal, we have on occasion had the opportunity to see them in decent light but on this trip we were limited to late night visits but they are always a delight to see.
Close relatives of stoats and weasels but substantially larger...
That evening we had a very late night visit from a badger, the photographs are not good but taken in the dark and with no danger of disturbing or upsetting the badger.
Red squirrel at our cottage...delightful.
And a surprise a wonderful male whinchat in the car park!
A converted steading (cow shed!) happily the property was delightful, spacious and a great place to watch the rain falling steadily and consistently!
Fortunately we know a few places on Mull where the car can be safely parked and some scanning for wildlife can take place from the dry interior of our vehicle.
While scanning for otters on our first day I spotted male and female stonechat respectively, super little birds.
Not exactly a smooth trip but safely on the small isle of Lunga, home to puffins!
Reboarding our small boat we were warned the crew had received a weather warning of strong and strengthening swells on the Atlantic Ocean, with the safety of passengers paramount the skipper advised a direct return to Fionnphort rather than the planned Staffa and Iona call offs.
We did receive complimentary tickets for Iona on the larger, and therefore more stable Calmac ferry so Iona it was.
We had seen fleeting glimpses of hen harriers in one location, frustratingly too far away for my lens and our last day on Mull we decided to have a long and detailed search for them.
My hours watching raptors at home paid off as I picked this bird up way out of camera range, identified with certainty I tracked it as it came closer, male hen harrier!
An incident free journey home the next day and after catching up with family things and some gardening we had an hour at Malham to see how the peregrines were progressing. The team had informed me that the youngsters had fledged, i.e. started flying from the nest, while I had been away.
With plenty of experience with peregrines they should not surprise me, yet they always do!
Another visit later in the week and a juvenile screams for food as the adult has a catch, they have to learn the food pass because soon the food will be dropped and they have to dive and catch it, simulating the huntings skills they need to develop.
Later and perched, she is keeping on eye on their surroundings as the male is out hunting.
The quiet Esthwaite Water is a real delight, peaceful and tranquil even on a sunny day.
I hope you enjoy the photographs and words that accompany them, at this time of year when I am out for many hours in the day it is difficult to keep the blog up to date.
Many thanks to all who read, it really is appreciated. Don't forget if you do comment, they come to me first for moderation.