Jump to content

Zim Girl's 4th Big Year 2021

Zim Girl

Recommended Posts

On the boat trip back to Mull from Lunga (which was much calmer) we also saw 4 Bottlenose Dolphins and a couple of Grey Seals.


We stayed in a lovely self-catering cottage on Mull in a village called Dervaig.  It is a beautiful location in the north of the island just a few minutes walk from Loch Cuin.  We thought it was well located, not too far away from Tobermory and easy to drop down to other areas of Mull.

Early on in the week we had booked a day out with one of the Island's wildlife guides, Peter Hall - Mull Wildlife Tours.  He does small (no more than 4 people) day tours in his own vehicle and we enjoyed his company very much.

The tour started at 10am and Peter sets out to try to show you the main wildlife highlights of Mull, namely eagles, otters and deer.  He has a scope that you can use and which is definitely needed for the eagle nest sites.  We saw a total of 7 White-tailed eagles and a pair of Golden Eagles with a 4 week old chick.  The nest sites were all way too far away for me to take pictures of the birds perched, but we were lucky that at all the sightings the birds flew so we got really nice views of them through binos.


So the quality of some of the next batch of birds takes a real nose dive I am afraid, but all bar 2 of them are brand new birds for us so I am trying not to care!


96.  White-tailed Eagle

This bird was disturbed off the nest by some gulls which continued to harass it for a while.






Along the roadside between Craignure and Salen.


We also found our own White-tailed eagle at Quinish Point in the North West of the island.  We were walking along the cliff top and flushed it from underneath us. No photo, I just wanted to enjoy watching it fly.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

97.  Golden Eagle




Glen More


This nest had a gorgeous chick which was easily viewable with the scope. The adults were already flying around when we arrived and then disappeared so we were lucky to see them.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

98.  Hen Harrier




East end of Glen More near Lochdon.


We were even more pleased to find this lovely male Hen Harrier (my spot :)) than the eagles.  Back home we live not far from a hotspot for these birds but we have never seen one.  We also found our own female hen harrier later in the week near Croggan.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

99.  Common Cuckoo


Near Lochdon.


This was a bonus bird at the end of the tour on our way back to Craignure.  Only the 2nd time I have ever seen one.

We didn't find otters but Peter gave us tips on places to look for them and we found our own later in the week by Croggan Pier.  A lovely big male who we were able to watch fishing for over an hour.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the birds we most wanted to see on this trip was a Short-eared Owl.  I love owls and I have never seen a Short-eared.  Thanks to tips by @Towlersonsafariand @Galanawe did finally find one.  It was hunting low over a scrubby field and we only saw it just by chance as were driving by.  Luckily we had a verge we could pull up on and I jumped out quickly to try and get a picture.  It didn't stay long and I didn't think I had got anything so I was really pleased with these and they get my 100 slot.


100.  Short-eared Owl




East of Loch Beg.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

101.  Common Gull


Craignure area

Kept forgetting to take a better picture of this Gull so this is all I had in the end.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

102.  Spotted Flycatcher


Near Knock


Link to comment
Share on other sites

103.  European Pied Flycatcher


Near our cottage in Dervaig.

Our wildlife guide was interested in this sighting and got us to post it on the Mull Birds website.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

104.  Hooded Crow


Near Dervaig.


Made a nice change to see the Hooded crows instead of the more usual Carrion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

105.  Red-breasted Merganser


Near Salen



Link to comment
Share on other sites

106.  Great Northern Diver




Loch na Keal


We had had really distant views of this bird on the wildlife tour so were pleased to find it again on our own.  I thought it was a pair but looking at the bird guide I think it is with a youngster.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our last Mull bird is one I would never normally even lift the camera up for given the speed they fly at, but two of them landed on a wire fence and got stuck into a full scale groom so I got my chance!


107.  Sand Martin






A lot of our time on Mull was spent looking for birds and otters as expected, but we also had some really nice walks around the various parts of the coast.  We were quite lucky with the weather, warm and fine for the first few days, then one day of rain and then dry and cloudy.  Mull is definitely somewhere we would consider returning to.  Those puffins are calling us back :).


Next up, the Cairngorms.



Edited by Zim Girl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well done on passing 100, and a wonderful bird for the magic 100.

You did really well really well for birds on Mull, some great sightings.

It is a great place - I would happily return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congrats on the century 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations on reaching #100 and with a lifer, too! Great photos of Puffins, Guillemots, Shag and Skua; what a magical place that must have been.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dave Williams

I'm going green again...so much you saw I didn't but wanted to. Well done, nice way to round off the ton. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you @TonyQ, @Tdgraves, @PeterHG, @Dave Williams.


13 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

I'm going green again...so much you saw I didn't but wanted to. Well done, nice way to round off the ton. 

Where did you go in Scotland?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We stayed in another very nice self-catering cottage between Boat of Garten and Nethybridge in the Cairngorms.  We were just a 5min drive away from RSPB Loch Garten which we popped into most days.

This week was more about getting up into the hills and mountains and lots of forest walking, but I had a list of birds that I was hoping to see while out and about.  The first few were found in the lower reaches of the Cairngorms.


108.  Common Goldeneye



An Lochan Uaine, Ryvoan Pass.


Saw a small group of female goldeneye on this loch.  We can see goldeneye at home but this is the closest I have ever got to them, so very nice to see.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

109.  Common (or Scottish) Crossbill


North of Ryvoan Pass, Abernethy NNR


Only the 2nd sighting of crossbills we had in the week.  We also saw a small group of them in the distance in Rothiemurchus forest.  No idea if they are 'Common' or 'Scottish' as both are present I believe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

110.  Willow Warbler


Anagach Wood, Grantown-on-Spey.


On all our forest woods the most common birds to be heard were Chaffinchs and Willow Warblers.  

We were desperately looking for a Crested Tit as that was very high on my list of birds to find, but sadly we only had 3 sightings, and at all of them I just couldn't get a clear shot of the bird. 

We found one in Anagach not long after seeing this WW.  It was quite funny as just a bit further up the path after we found it, there was a large group of birders all with scopes and a guide looking into the trees.  So I went up to them and asked what they had seen.  The guide said they were looking for Crested Tit.  "Oh, we saw one just back there", I said pointing behind us.  Then we carried on walking.  Not sure why that made me feel better:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The sighting of this next bird is also thanks to location details given to me by @Towlersonsafari.  This is the closest we have ever been to an Osprey and it was a fabulous sight of both adult birds, with one of them also flying around picking up nesting material.


111.  Osprey






Loch Insh 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would have been nice to have found Black Grouse or Capercaillie but we didn't really expect to, although we are pretty sure we heard a Capercaillie early on the morning we were walking in Abernethy up the Ryvoan Pass.


So next up are the montane birds.  I had a list of 4 hopefuls and we got 3 of them so actually pretty pleased.  We missed out on Ptarmigan but we had a cracking sighting of Dotterel :).


One of our mountain walks was the circuit of the Cairngorm Northern Corries ending up on Cairn Gorm summit. We started at Coire Cas, which is the main ski centre for the Cairngorms.  There is a very lovely alpine garden that attracts lots of birds.  We were after Ring Ouzel.  Initially we found a youngster hanging around the bushes, so we wandered around looking for the adult.  We found the female at the start of one of the trails.


112.  Ring Ouzel




Coire Cas


Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the walk into the hills we followed the Ben Macdui path and then turned east up towards Coire an Lochain.  We had to cross some snow at this point and this is where we found a Snow Bunting running over the slope.  I tried to keep up with it, but it was a steep slope on icy rocks so had to give up.  However, then Adrian shouted out to me there was another one, and not far behind there was a lovely male.  I have never seen one in breeding plumage so that was a great spot.


113.  Snow Bunting

The first one I saw.  Not sure if it is a female or a juvenile.







Coire an Lochain

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But the sighting of the day was to come at the summit of Cairn Gorm.  We were just walking past the relay station when we passed a couple with binoculars.  We asked them is they had seen anything interesting and they said a group of Dotterel behind some boulders on the far side of the summit plateau.  They showed us the direction to go in and we went to have a look.  Indeed, there were 4 Dotterel chasing each other around amongst the rocks.

Incredible, after Ptarmigan, this was my most wanted bird!

They weren't bothered by us and we settled down to watch them.  You will have to excuse the number of photos but I was massively chuffed with this sighting.


114.  Eurasian Dotterel












Cairn Gorm summit


Edited by Zim Girl
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So we got 27 birds for Big Year with 19 of them being lifers.  Pretty pleased with that!

The weather behaved itself for the 2 weeks (def not a given in the UK) and we didn't see a single midge!

Seeing as our Zambia trip has now had to be postponed we are tempted to go back up for another week in late Sept/Oct, maybe to Dumfries and Galloway region this time.


Can't leave Scotland without a picture of one of it's iconic mammals.


Red Squirrel found in Rothiemurchus forest (the only one we saw).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy