6th June 2012 – Isle of Mull and Iona (part 2)

Awakened by the continuous song of Skylarks, drumming Snipe and newly fledged Starlings we headed down to Fionnphort to catch the first ferry of the day over to Iona…

Iona lies just ten minutes away from Fionnphort

A spell of overnight rain had cleared by dawn and as the skies brightened we set foot on this magical island. The main reason for getting onto Iona as early as possible was to hopefully increase my chances of at least hearing a Corncrake or two before the crowds of tourists arrived. As we headed along the track towards the Abbey I could hear a few birds calling, but as I looked over the wall I could see that the vegetation on the island was quite tall – getting a view of one was going to require a bit of of luck and some patience.

If you listen very carefully you can hear several Corncrakes calling…

Corncrake Heaven

One was seemingly calling from very close to the wall, but try as I might I couldn’t see it. Another bird was calling just a little further back, and as I stared into the vegetation I finally managed to locate it, preening and calling… Fantastic! I was pleased to get some record shots too…

He’s in there somewhere!

With the rest of the family happily playing on the beach I found a nice place to sit on my own and enjoy the peace and tranquility of this beautiful little island. Corncrakes called all around, and I managed to get bin views of three different males, including watching a bit of a skirmish between two territorial birds. The sun was hot on my face, I looked at my family playing down on the beach, and my gaze was drawn across the water to staggering views of Mull and the mainland. The scene before me was perfection. I breathed it all in, surrounded by calling Corncrakes -what a beautiful place I was in. I could’ve stayed there all day.

Bye bye Iona… I will be coming back

At lunchtime we caught the ferry back to Fionnphort, and as we docked I clapped eyes on the length of the queue of people waiting to go back over to Iona – it was unbelievable, we counted 13 coaches parked up with day-trippers and I reckon most of them were in that queue. Good move to go over early me thinks!

Back on Mull and we had a little drive around our ‘patch’, finding yet another superb beach in the process. From here I was able to scope distant Golden Eagles whilst getting a tan – nice.

Looking at the OS Map I figured I had a chance of maybe getting closer views of the eagles by moving a mile or two to the east. And it was this decision that gave us our best views of a White-tailed Eagle. The huge bird was perched at the top of a small tree, and continued to sit there for the whole time we were there.

My young nephew was suitably impressed with this bird and was able to enjoy prolonged scope views whilst listening to the haunting cries of a pair of Red-throated Divers. Also seen in this area was a Short-eared Owl, female Hen Harrier, Bonxie and Tree Pipit.

The evening was spent walking around the campsite tracks and enjoying the late evening sunshine, we were also treated to another female Hen Harrier flying past.

The day ended watching an incredible sunset – what a way to finish the day…

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