Sunshine and Skydancers

As usual the month of July flew by in a blur and we’re well into August already.

Isle of Ulva

Right back at the beginning of July I enjoyed leading another Guided Walk on the Isle of Ulva with a lovely group of guests. We had some sunshine this time and had great views of Buzzards in flight, followed by spotting a female Hen Harrier gaining height right above us. A satellite tagged Hen Harrier called Wendy spent her whole winter on the Isle of Ulva before heading back toward her home ground in Southern Argyll and Bute. Thanks to the planting of trees and grazing management on the island, the rough cover including good quality heather provides perfect ground nesting sites for this raptor.

The wildflowers and native woodland on the island were a treat as usual, and we spotted Golden-ringed dragonflies making the most of the sunshine. On arriving back toward The Boathouse for a lovely lunch we also got views of a White-tailed eagle.

It’ll be interesting to follow the future of the Isle of Ulva, as the North West Mull Community Woodland are currently working a Right to Buy bid and feasibility study to take over the island and develop the community options there.

Glengorm History and Wildlife Walk

On another sunny Wednesday, the Ranger Service teamed up with the Glengorm Wildlife Project and Ranger Kerry to provide a wildlife walk incorporating local history and wildlife. We learnt about the castle (and even got a sneak peek inside), the standing stones and then Dun Ara. We watched out for wildlife and spotted species like Song Thrush, Wheatear, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Hooded Crow, plus plenty of seabird species including Gannets and Manx Shearwater. The wildflowers were also great, with Ladies Bedstraw, Harebells and Selfheal looking lovely.

Skydancer Spotting

After the national Hen Harrier Day events on Saturday 5th August, we ran a Skydancer Spotting event to enjoy the raptors here on Mull and to chat about the problems they face elsewhere in the UK. Hen Harrier have declined by about 27% recently in Scotland, whilst in England this year only 3 pairs have attempted to breed thanks to illegal raptor persecution. So it’s a privilege to have good breeding numbers on Mull and Ulva and to see them often. North Loch Frisa is often a good location to spot harriers in the summer time and this year has been no exception.

We weren’t long into the event when we’d already spotted Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. Soon one of the guests spotted a beautiful silver male Hen Harrier flying low over the rough ground and we got great views. We also added Golden Eagle, White-tailed eagle and Raven to the list for the walk. Wildflowers included Harebell, Rosebay Willowherb, Grass of Parnassus and more, as well as the plentiful crop of raspberries.

We finished the walk off by checking some nearby corrugated sheeting for reptiles and amphibians. We were rewarded with a Common Toad and a Slow-worm. We also spotted plenty of butterflies, including Scotch Argus and Dark-green fritillary.

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Common Toad

 

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Dark-green fritillary

 

New beginnings

I’m now heading off from this position to embark on a Primary Teaching Course nearby in Oban – it’ll be a steep learning curve but I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll be back to enjoy some Ranger Service events in the future and hopefully be around on the island to get children into the outdoors as much as possible. Thanks to everyone for reading the blogs or supporting our Facebook page and of course for turning up to our events!

Rachel : )

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