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Scotland: Mainly Mull – Puffins, Predator birds… and some mammals


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The idea of a joint ST visit to Hebrides appeals to me although it may damage my image in @chakra's eyes when he finds I am no 'master' but merely an itinerant Jack of all trades.:(

Great Photos Tony. Following closely.

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On 07/07/2017 at 7:40 PM, xelas said:


Arriving Scotland 13th of August, Mull 14 - 18, Outer Hebrides 19 - 30, Skye 31 - 2nd Sep, departing Scotland on 3rd Sep. Will cross path with Chakra on Lewis. Any chance to meet you ??

@xelas so close, we will be arriving to visit Skye on 02 Sep.

Farne Islands next year then.

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5 hours ago, Soukous said:

we will be arriving to visit Skye on 02 Sep.


Ouch, just missing ... I am looking forward to next GTG with puffins :).

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Dave Williams

Once you have got the Puffin shot, you want the Puffin with Eels shot, once you have that, well you try for one with the fish facing alternative direction or maybe all facing the same way. Still working on those!



27657869700_e5710b485d_b.jpgPuffin by Dave Williams, on Flickr

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@offshorebirder @ImSA84 @michael-ibk @marg   - thank you

@Chakra @xelas  I am sure you will have a great time

@Id1 I didn't know about Formby and Red squirrels - that is good to know!

@Dave Williams - good news about the Anglesey Squirrels  (and a beautiful Puffin picture - we were a bit early to get the Sand Eels)

@Treepol- I hope you have a great time. We loved the Puffins

@Towlersonsafari - thank you for all your advice. We would not have been on the boat to take the White-tailed Eagle photo if it were not for your recommendation!

@Zim Girl - go and visit, it is not far for you:)

@Soukous I am sure the Eagles will still be there, Atlantic Grey Seals will have started to have pups, and there will be Common Seals as well. Red Deer, Otters and many other birds as well I am sure. And as others have said, the scenery is stunning as well.

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Arbroath Cliffs

Arbroath is a few miles north of Dundee.


Kittiwake nesting  (no sign of chicks yet)


Courtship behaviour










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Courtship behaviour



Strange nostrils  (use these to excrete excess salt in a saline solution)

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Guillemots and Razorbills





And just off the shore


Dolphins (I think Bottlenose)

Back on land (well we never left it!), lots of House Martins were collecting mud to make their nests on the cliffs



Genuine Rock Doves were living in their natural habitat



There are large numbers of pipits around the Arbroath cliffs, both Rock Pipits and Meadow Pipits. It is a real pleasure hearing them sing, either in the long grass, or sometimes on a branch or fence post.


Meadow Pipit

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Loch of the Lowes

 When we travelled from Dundee across to the west, we stopped off at the Loch of the Lowes reserve (north of Perth), hoping to see some more Osprey. It is a very nice reserve, with 2 or 3 hides looking towards the Osprey nest. The nest is quite distant but it is a good clear view.



Mandarin –male. (originally from Asia, there are quite a few living wild in the UK)



Male Osprey leaving the nest




Coming back with a fish



Bringing it to the nest



Passes it to the Female



Female begins to feed chick




So it was an excellent way to break the journey, and a real pleasure to have my second sighting of Osprey. They really are beautiful birds.



Edited by TonyQ
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Dave Williams

I'm very envious of the Dolphins, I have wanted to go up to Inverness and Chanonry Point for a long, long time where the photo opportunities are meant to be fabulous as  you see them catching Salmon there, however, I have been told its can be a bunfight to get a decent position too so maybe I have left it too late as it is now so well known.

The Ospreys are really close compared to the only places I have seen both in Wales and England where you won't get within half a mile or so. You got some excellent images .

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Lovely photos @TonyQ and a fine way to break the journey. It was a pleasure to mention a few of our favourite places on Mull which has to be our favourite UK location.In fact we were on Skye in June and had some lovely sightings of both Eagles and of otters but it was very busy. Looking forward to your impressions of Mull and your favourite places!


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@TonyQHere is the link to Freshfields Squirrel reserve. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/trails/formby-red-squirrel-walk


I didn't realise it celebrates its 50th year in 2017, as do I. One of my earliest memories is as a 3 year old stood crying in the pine forest because the squirrels wouldn't feed from my hand like they would from my 9 year old brother. Of course I eventually grew old enough to stand still and this is probably one of the places responsible for a life lifelong love of wildlife. I wouldn't go these days at the weekend or over the School holidays but it's still a magical place on quieter days. 

Edited by ld1
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1 hour ago, Towlersonsafari said:

In fact we were on Skye in June and had some lovely sightings of both Eagles


Any chance of sharing those locations on Skye, @Towlersonsafari ?

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Happy to @xelas  but don't want to interfere with @TonyQ 's flow! I will do a mini topic thingy

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11 hours ago, Towlersonsafari said:

l do a mini topic thingy


I was thinking of a PM reply but the mini topic will be even greater!! Thanks in advance, @Towlersonsafari !

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@TonyQ wow that first puffin photo really popped for me, and so did that red squirrel. we've been many times to the UK and never thought of watching birdlife or mammal life there! although I just love the scenery and landscape there.

the closest to wildlife I've seen was a little hedgehog in my sister's garden years ago. .


we'll have to adjust our thinking in the future. 


as usual, loving your photos!

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Dave Williams - thank you. Interesting about the Osprey sightings - and the distance at other sites.

@Towlersonsafari - thank you

@Id1 - thank you for the Formby link - and for your early memory of the Red Squirrels

@Kitsafari thank you. Well done with the hedgehog as they are in decline.

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Mull is an island off the West Coast of Scotland. We had booked a ferry from Oban (Caledonian MacBrayne, better known as CalMac) to Craignure on Mull. This takes about 45 minutes. The ferry only cost £40 for the car and 2 people (return) and it is a pleasant journey.


Guillemot raft seen from ferry


We had rented a cottage for a week Salen – a good base with easy access to the north and south of the island. I won’t do a day by day report (with some exceptions) but will lump together some days in an attempt to give a feel for the island. We hired a guide for one day (our first full day) and he showed us some of the main areas in the south of the island. Importantly we learned to slow down a bit, and to stop and scan.




Edited by TonyQ
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Mull is quite a small island, with most distances being fairly short. At home we often drive with a focus on getting to the destination. Here we developed a new phrase-

“The journey is the destination”.



Almost all of the roads on Mull are single track roads with passing places (you can just see the black and white markers showing where these are). If a vehicle is coming the other way, this is where you pass. If you are a tourist taking things slowly, you pull in to these to allow vehicles behind you to overtake. There are also a number of parking places where you can get out of the car and scan for wildlife. The surface of the roads was very good.


There is a lot of wildlife on Mull, but you do have to work for most of it (with some exceptions), and it is sometimes distant!

For the next batch of photos I have put together a couple of days.


Our first otter (on the first afternoon before we got to our cottage). Distant but exciting! I have seen otters in Borneo and Brazil, but never before in the UK. We just call it an Otter, but it is also known as Eurasian Otter, Common Otter, European Otter, European River Otter, Old World Otter.







Peregrine (very high)



A very distant Golden Eagle (look carefully!) – the only one of the trip. Golden Eagles tend to stay away from the areas where people are.



Grey Seal



Common Seal (although the Grey Seal is more common than the Common Seal!)


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Hooded Crow

– at home we get the Carrion Crow. At one time the two were considered to be the same species, but they are now recognised as two distinct species. First time I have seen one.


Three Lochs



Wheatear – there were quite a lot of these around.



Red-breasted Merganser pair.






Red Deer with youngster behind it. You may also notice some rain!

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Grey Wagtail





Our first White-tailed Eagle (better pictures in later sections…I will discuss them at that point)



Our second Otter (less than five minutes drive from the cottage in Salen Bay)



With fish


When I post the next section, it will focus on Puffins.:)

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wonderful wonderful wonderful @TonyQ  2 otters already and a peregrine-which are not easy on Mull. your pictures make me realise it was time we went back. It is such fun watching otters especially fishing-and waiting till they dive and trying to sneak a bit closer-as long as the wind is right! although the first one we ever saw on Mull must have been deaf because we were walking along a road and saw it in front of us eating a large fish on the shore-only about 10 feet away.Jane squealed -literally-in delight saying "an otter an otter" before she put her hand over her mouth in embarrassment!-it ignored us whilst it had its meal and we remained frozen like statues!

And i do love hoodies. you are right about golden Eagles-it is really a matter of luck even on mull-stopping in likely places and scanning is all you can do.Can I ask which guide you went with  and how you got on? The golden Eagle looks like the cliffs at Croggan but i am just getting too excited-looking forward to the rest of your report.(By the way did you have cake at the Salen Coffee Pot?-I used to work with the owner

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Very cool to see Otters so close to home. Lovely landscape there at the Three Lochs.

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@TonyQ : Fantastic. Loved the Puffin picture specially. To me your 'Robin (baby waiting for return of parent)' looks a good fit for a wren to me. 

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Mull island looks lovely! How is the accommodation there?


what fun to see an otter and the golden eagle looks large!

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