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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mull

Tuesday 18th April set of from Maalie Court and stopped at Loch Lomond about 5.00pm to make tea. Found a nice camp site on shore of Loch Long near Arrochar. Went for walk, saw Guillemots, Gannets, Black Guillemots, Mergansers and a porpoise from the camp. Settled down to spend first night sleeping in X-trail.

Wednesday 19th
Cooked breakfast (bacon, sausage and egg) at camp site. Spent the day exploring round Loch Awe. Found Tree Pipit, Common Sandpiper, Cuckoo, and Osprey circling carrying a fish. Dinner of oysters and char-grilled salmon at the Oyster Shop Restaurant at Loch Fyne infamously used by John Prescott and Gordon Brown. Drove to Oban via Lochgilplead and found a spot to park up for the night.

Thursday 20th
In the ferry queue for Mull by 8.00am. On Mull went straight to Grasspoint and quickly found a Sea Eagle and watched it preening, flying and soaring. On then to Fionnphort and was lucky to find a boat trip about to leave for Staffa.

Curious basalt colums at Fingal's Cave, Staffa






Good weather and excellent visibility resulted in a good variety of seabirds seen, including all auks, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Manx Shearwater.

Fingal's Cave

Staffa and Fingal's Cave were spectacular. Back on Mull saw Golden Eagle and Great Northern Diver before finding a nice camp site on the south side of Loch Scridain.

Friday 21st
The day broke calm and cloudless so after a camp breakfast of sausage, bacon and egg, I set off to climb Ben More - the highest peak on Mull. Reached the summit in 2.5hrs and gained spectacular views from Northern Ireland to Lewis. Saw a Snow Bunting at top. Later found a basic camp site at the head of Loch na Keal near Gruline, and went for a spin to the Sound of Ulva before tea. Turned in about 9.30.

Ben More (970m) still snow-capped

Saturday 22nd
Left the car park for the Burg of Mull at 11.00, prepared for the 13 mile round trip on foot to the fossil tree. Fine to start with but after 3 miles it started to rain. Faced with the decision to return or carry on, rain gear came out of the rucksack and that became the point of no return. After some difficult walking but spectacular scenery the tree was reached about 2.00pm. With the tide rising, a hasty retreat was in order and the well-earned sandwiches were deferred until a safe distance above the high tide mark. The arduous walk was rewarded with a pair of Rock Doves and a Peregrine. Back at the camp, dry clothes were unpacked followed by a trip to Tobermory for hot soup and fish and chips.

Sunday 23rd
A relatively easy day exploring the north end of Mull from Tobermory to Calgary in fine sunny weather that dried off all my wet clothes. Another Golden Eagle was seen, and Black-throated Divers. An evening walk beside Loch Ba turned up Redpoll and a fine view of a Sea Eagle as it circled over the loch.

Monday 24th
Up at 7.00am to clear up the camp site. The morning looked bright but with rain threatening so drove to Fionnphort to catch next ferry to Iona, landed at noon. Walked to the north shore and to the top of the hill. Had a pint in the pub and back on Mull by 3.00. By now rain was setting in so drove back towards Craignure exploring side roads along the way. Carsaig was especially dramatic. In steady rain found a pleasant spot at Lochbuie to park up for my last night on Mull. With now seven consecutive nights sleeping in the X-Trail I consider it to be fully broken in!

Tuesday 25th
The rain eased off at breakfast time and there was time to visit the Sea Eagle site at Grasspoint. It looked as if the chicks had hatched and both adults were in the vicinity of the eyrie. Boarded the 13.00 ferry to Oban. Saw another Golden Eagle whilst driving through Argyll. Home by 7.00pm.

7 Comments:

Blogger simon said...

What can i say? the photos are spectacular, and I read about the eagles you spotted whilst reading a book ( in the evenings) called The Stoner Eagles. Courious connection!

How large are these eagles Jim? Whilst riding on saturday i got a great view of Wedgetail which followed me as I rode, under the canopy of the trees..it also circled above me for a time. (Also a wonderful "spot" of yellow robin, and little wattle bird.) But not the same as Mull! Was the X/trail comfortable?

11:43 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Wow _ looks amazing! I am in Arles want to get to the Camargue but am having trouble orgnising it at present. Am experiencing the Mistral! Loved my time in Locarno and all the walks I went on.

3:50 pm  
Blogger done said...

Wow Jim, You do live your life to the fullest:) Those pics. are so beautiful, and what a week you had! Thanks for sharring:) Take care, Elisa:)

4:52 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

OK... I understand entirely now why you are in love with Les Saintes Maries! I loved the flamingoes but I can see that a real birder would be kept busy for days and days!

2:25 pm  
Blogger simon said...

How far in does Fingal cave go? is it as far as the photos? or is it further? Reminds me of the cave we saw from the Zodiac in Shetland..

7:49 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I spent quite a bit of time in Lourdes relaxing by the River Gave, which was rushing by with spring snow melt from the Pyrenees and rain I guess. Saw lots of birds I have never seen before but I guess you might know what many of them were!

3:27 pm  
Blogger simon said...

Kiwi:- is really is worth while to buy a book on birds and have a look. its a great interest and yuo will surprise yourself just what you see and when!

11:33 pm  

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