Frisa, Fish and Frolics.

It has been a bit of a busy couple of weeks and only just getting time to draw a breath. We had a work placement student Tom Hilder, with us for three weeks and he was a pleasure to have as part of the team. Luckily he saw the best of the weather and the wildlife, with trips to our public viewing sea eagle hides with rangers Stephanie Cope and Debby Thorne, joined the eagle tag and ringing party with David Sexton (RSPB), out with Sea Life Surveys on a couple of boat trips and joined the Ranger Service on a couple of our guided events, including the evening trip to Staffa. He also had time out with wildlife ranger James Greig, learning about deer management, and we put him to work tidying up and inspecting recreation sites, also strimming and beach cleaning. Tom is welcome back anytime!!
On Saturday we had our annual fishing competition on Loch Frisa. Fishing is from the bank and the competitors have 5 hours to catch as many trout as they can over 8 inches using one fishing rod. Plenty trout were caught but none particularly large.

trout

Brown trout

Guy Bolton won the adult section and a visiting youngster, Fraser from Appin, won the junior section. It was lovely to have some ‘new kids on the block’, some who were total novices, but all the juniors came away with a medal, a prize and a couple of fish.
I headed off with my camera for a wee while. The MacDowell’s fields at Lettermore were full of wild flowers and it could not have been a nicer day, slight breeze, sun, lovely landscape and NO midges.

Flag Iris

Flag Iris

Tikka and wild flower meadow

wild Flower meadow with Tikka

The generosity of the local business that sponsor the event really make the day and I appreciate their generosity.

Ben Taladh and Loch Frisa

Loch Frisa looking towards Ben Taladh

Sunday was a different kettle of fish (pun not intended) all together. It was planned to have a tidy of Calgary Bay in time for the summer holiday rush, luckily the beach had little litter on it so in rather ‘damp’ climatic conditions, Matthew and Julia Reade and I spent time sorting picnic tables, tidying and strimming the camping area and plunging the wash hand basin in the gents, too much information I am sure).
To conclude my run of three events we held a guided walk at Ardmore yesterday afternoon. We were joined by retired wildlife ranger Steve Irvine and the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. The weather had threated us again but miraculously the sun came out and there was a small breeze. We had a lovely companionable walk with views of an otter relatively close by the shore, a golden eagle flew overhead and then surprisingly a mole crossed our path which we would not have seen had it not been for Tikka, my vizsla, giving it a helping hand.

otter watch

Otter watching

Now the summer holidays have just started watch out for a wide variety of events for lots of different ages and interest, over the next couple of months.

by Jan Dunlop:

Harriers & hawk moths

Blimey, almost another four weeks have disappeared since I last managed to write a post. Of course this is a busy time of year for the Ranger Service and Mull Eagle Watch, with our daily trips at the viewing hide a large part of my working week. We’re still struggling with nice weather though and this is showing with our wildlife.

Harrier hunting – with binoculars 

Since my woodland walk in May I’ve ran a few more events. On a crisp, clear afternoon we set out on a “Skydancer Spotting” guided walk, to try and see some hen harriers. This was at the north of Loch Frisa and we wandered down the forestry commission track stopping to scan regularly. Probably due to the weather during May hen harriers proved to be elusive in this area but we still had a great afternoon with plenty of wildlife. We’re very lucky to have good numbers of hen harriers on the island, we don’t have any problems with illegal raptor persecution here, but elsewhere in the UK they’re on the brink of extinction as a breeding bird, wholly due to illegal killings, such a shame for a wonderful raptor. An adult white-tailed eagle from a nearby territory flew right over head and we all got fantastic views of the broad, 8ft wingspan. We also caught sight of golden eagle pair. Countless buzzards were seen throughout the walk, all enjoying the blue skies and strong breeze. We tend to take buzzards for granted now that they’re our most common raptor, but it wasn’t that long ago they were missing from the majority of the country. We also spotted a pair of my favourite bird, the kestrel. These raptors are in short supply on the island and are undergoing rapid declines across the country, up to 40% of our kestrels have gone. Wildflowers were varied along the edge of the track and included birds foot trefoil, bugle, wild strawberry, bitter vetch and tormentil.

Tormentil

Tormentil

Loch Buie Wander 

Despite the weather on Wednesday 17th we had an enjoyable walk at the head of Loch Buie, covering Laggan Sands and the restored Mausoleum. We enjoyed the view of three fallow deer and one red deer stag with only one velvety antler, sure he won’t be the top boy during the autumn rut. We noticed the first flowering foxgloves, along with flag iris, birds foot trefoil and tormentil. We then had brilliant views of a white-tailed eagle pair, both of which disappeared along the inaccessible coastline.

Flag iris

Flag iris

Drop-in Ranger Service 

In addition to the varied events I run, every other week I also provide a drop-in ranger service in the Fishnish wildlife hide. This hide is community based and open at all times, so do pop in. Sightings here are varied and include white-tailed eagles, heron, oystercatcher, greylag geese, gull species, otter and marine mammals like harbour porpoise. I’m next in the hide on Wednesday 24th June, so call in between 10am and 12pm to say hello.

Coming up 

We have so many events to look forward to toward the end of the month and throughout July. On Wednesday 24th along with the Fishnish hide drop in you can join a geology based guided walk at Carsaig, a fantastic area. Our yearly fishing competition is coming up next weekend, so head down to Lettermore for that one. In July we have plenty things to chose from, kicking off with a guided walk at Loch Tor, a brilliant area of mixed habitat. You can join a wildflower and butterfly walk at Treshnish Farm in the morning, followed by coastal sea watching in the afternoon, both on Wednesday 15th. Look out for the moth morning in July too, we’ll have a few hours to appreciate some of the night time wonders we don’t often see. I’ve been trapping in my own time when the weather allows and caught my first ever hawkmoth, an incredible poplar hawkmoth, definitely better than butterflies! We’re also running the nature club in Aros park for children again, where we’ll focus on moths!

Poplar hawkmoth

Poplar hawkmoth

Head over to our events page for more information on all of these.

Thanks for reading again, back soon with more!

Rachel