27th-29th May 2014 – Isle of Mull and Iona’s Corncrakes…

I managed to get a few days off work this week, and with the weather forecast looking pretty dire around the mainland it was an easy decision to once again head to the beautiful islands off the northwest coast of Scotland where the forecast was slightly better.

It was a good move, as we approached Oban we were treated to glorious hot sunshine and clear blue skies…

The Falls of Lora

The Falls of Lora


Duart Castle from the ferry.

Duart Castle from the ferry.

The drive across Mull was truly breathtaking, and 2 Golden Eagles were seen on the way…







We ‘wild’ camped, what an unbelievable place to fall asleep and wake up…



On the morning of the 28th we woke up just in time to get to Fionnphort to get the first ferry of the day over to the Isle of Iona…


And within minutes I was hearing my first of several Corncrakes calling from one of the many dense iris beds – but seeing one was soon proving very difficult indeed! After about 45 minutes of listening to one particular bird I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see it, even though I was confident I was staring into the right bit of vegetation. Another bird began calling behind me but I persevered with the original bird, even though it was tempting to leave it, and finally I was rewarded – a glimpse of the bird as it sped across some shorter vegetation. Of course I was relieved to have at least seen it but it was all over in seconds. I meandered further along the path, I could hear another 4 birds calling from various iris beds all around me, and I settled down by the path to listen and hopefully see one a bit better than the first!

From my vantage point I was looking down onto the iris beds and I felt certain that I should be able to see the bird I was currently staking out. Every couple of minutes it was calling, ‘crex crex, crex crex’, but still I couldn’t see the flippin’ thing! An hour later and still no view of it, and I have to admit that a little bit of frustration was beginning to creep in, and then through my bins I eventually spotted it….

Crippling views...

Crippling views…

I went to get Tracy and Jamie to show them it, and when I returned this is the sight that greeted me…


A bird had come right out into the open and was happily preening away!!!….Flippin’ eck!!




Whilst we sat open-mouthed watching this bird, another one called close-by, and slowly came into the same view, and then it promptly scared off the preening bird…



Get in! We were buzzing now, we couldn’t believe what we’d just seen, and happy with our experience we enjoyed Iona’s other attractions…




With the family happily playing on the beach in the warm sunshine, I decided to explore other parts of Iona that I’d not seen before. Corncrakes called everywhere, and as I approached a farm track one particular bird called incredibly close to the track, it seemed completely fearless as tourists wandered past. I saw it cross the track in front of me and begin to call loudly no more than 10 feet away. All the while people walked past and it continued to call, it wasn’t bothered at all. As I sat motionless by the track it approached me even closer, and eventually I got a view of it through the irises…



And then it did something I wasn’t expecting at all, it walked across the short turf to some other iris beds, completely out in the open…





Having a wander around!

Having a wander around!




Leg it!

Leg it!


It seemed somewhat ironic that I’d spent ages earlier trying to see one, then this bird just wandered around calling without a care in the world – ain’t birding great! Back to Mull very happy indeed…


And then we got the sad news that one of our pets had taken a turn for the worse back home and we decided that we had to return the next day. So it was all a bit brief and rushed in the end. Ho hum. So other bits that were seen on our quick visit included 2 White-tailed Eagles but alas no pics, 3 Golden Eagles, 3 stonking male Hen Harriers, a summer plumaged Great Northen Diver, rafts of Manx Shearwaters on Loch Scridain, Cuckoo’s absolutely everywhere and an Otter as we departed Craignure.












Ben Nevis from Craignure

Ben Nevis from Craignure

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3 Responses to 27th-29th May 2014 – Isle of Mull and Iona’s Corncrakes…

  1. Carl Baggott says:

    It looks like we were up to similar things over the last few days. Your Corncrakes showed really well especially the one that wandered out onto the short grass between the Iris beds. I bet Jamie enjoyed the sandy beaches and the wild camping.

  2. fish3434 says:

    Wow mate some cracking photos, looks amazing

  3. Bob Jones says:

    Hi Darren – had a week on Iona a few years ago – C’crakes normally skulking and almost impossible to see but on 2 occasions did similar thing to your experience i.e. in the open for long periods ; once to stand near me on a path for 10 mins as I ate a sandwich in the evening and the other which sat on top of a wall next to the hotel with loads of people walking past taking in the evening sun for about 45 mins . Hard to know why they behaved so differently ; great birds though

    Bob Jones

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