The habitats of the Isle
of Mull are varied from mountains and moorlands to sea lochs and hill lochans,
damp boggy marshes to sandy beaches. It supports a good range of resident
and migrant birds, many passage birds call in to re-fuel en-route.
Raptors include Golden Eagle
and White-tailed Sea Eagle, Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Merlin,
Sparrow Hawk and Buzzard. Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl and Tawny Owl are resident
and Short-eared Owls visit to breed. Corvids include Ravens and Hooded
Crow are plentiful .
The Isle of Mull has a coastline
of some 300 miles long and the tidal lochs are very attractive to many
waders and birds of passage which stop to feed whilst en-route to their
summer and winter feeding grounds. Whooper Swan, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank,
Redshank, Snipe and Whimbrel are just a few.
Large flocks of Teal and Wigeon
over winter with Shelduck, Goldeneye and Merganser. All three Divers can
be seen at different times of the year. Great Northern and Black-throated
Diver in winter on the sea lochs and Red-throated Diver in fresh water
lochs in spring and summer. Slavonian Grebe and occasional Red-necked Grebe
can be seen on the sea lochs in the winter months
Corncrake have made a remarkable
recovery due to sensitive and friendly farming on Iona, and whilst
not easy to see they arrive on Iona in late April. Your best chance of
seeing tis elusive bird is in early May before the iris beds have
grown to make Corncrake almost invisible.
All the sea lochs on Mull
hold otters and there are excellent opportunities to see Mulls otters along
many of the coast roads.
There are many good and safe
vantage points from which to watch sea birds, including, Guillemot and
Black Guillemot, Shag, Cormorant and occasional Gannet and Great Skua.
Boat trips are available
to take you to the Treshnish isles during the summer where you can get
close to nesting birds, Puffin, Shag, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill.
Mink are a very serious problem
on the islands of Argyll and ground nesting birds are suffering because
of lack of controlling measures. These problems will have to be addressed
if we are to protect them. A programme is in operation to protect Arctic
and Common Tern colonies and this is proving to be very successful, and
we need more such programmes operating.
Mull has lots of red deer
and a small herd of fallow deer, hedgehogs, polecats, mink, rabbits, and
Mountain Hare. There is a good population of otters which can now be seen
regularly around the coast and sea lochs.
There are no badgers, foxes
or squirrels on the island and we do not have any Magpies resident on Mull.
Lochdon is a tidal
sea loch and provides a valuable source of food for many waders, it
holds a good variety of birds at all times of the year, and is a regular
stopping off and feeding area for spring and autumn passage migrants.
Good views of White tailed
Sea Eagle can usually be had all year round from Lochdon & Grasspoint,
also regularly seen are Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Tawny
Owl, Short eared Owl and Hen Harrier and occasional Barn Owl, Merlin &
Peregrine Falcon. Red Kite have been seen in autumn on migration
and the occasional passage Osprey calls into Lochdon, most often in Spring
There is a small colony of
Marsh Fritillary at Lochdon and at a few other areas. Many other species
of Butterfly such as Speckled Wood, Peacock, Scotch Argus and Common Blue
can be seen on the wing at different times of the year.
Large numbers of Teal &
Wigeon overwinter on Lochdon, joined by lesser numbers of Goldeneye, Red
breasted Merganser, Shelduck and Mallard. Whooper Swan drop in and stay
only to rest and refuel before flying off again. In winter occasional Goosander
fish in the pool by the bridge to Grasspoint.
The mouth of the loch, from
Grasspoint can be good for Great Northern Diver in winter & occasional
Black throated Diver, Red throated Diver and Little Grebe. Redshank, Greenshank,
Whimbrel, Turnstone, and Bar tailed Godwit on passage in spring and autumn,
Occasional large flocks of Golden Plover & Lapwing in autumn plus Ringed
Plover & Curlew, There are Snipe & Woodcock at most times
of the year.
On the shoreline Common Sandpiper
breed in summer, Rock Pipit, Grey Wagtail also. The scrub around the shores
are good for migrant warblers at the right time of year, Grasshopper Warbler,
Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Blackcap, Whinchat and Cuckoo.
Other resident birds including, Meadow Pipit. Rock Pipit, Stonechat, Song
Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, Tree Creeper, Wren and Robin can be seen all
year round. Great Spotted Woodpecker is common and is often seen feeding
at bird tables and on nuts in local gardens. There is a Sandmartin colony
at Gorsten (45 active nest holes in 2002).
Grasspoint will give good
views of local sea birds, Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Fulma, GBB &
LBB Gulls & occasional Gannets, & Kittewake.
Porpoise are often seen in
the Sound of Lorn from a Grasspoint vantage point.
Otters can occasionally seen
at Grasspoint and in the outer loch area.
There is good bed & breakfast
& self catering accommodation available in the immediate vicinity.
Details & information can be found on the "stay here" pages.
Loch na Keal is one of the largest
sea lochs and offers opportunities to see many of Mulls best birds.
In winter through to early spring, Slavonion Grebe, in eclipse & in
summer plumage, Great northern & Red throated Diver, occasional Black
throated Diver, Winter ducks are Wigeon, Teal & Goldeneye, plus all
year Red breasted Mergansers, Mallard, Eider & Shelduck. There is always
the chance, after winter storms, of picking up a vagrant or rare bird from
It is always well worth
checking Loch na Keal with your scope for rarities or vagrants..
Sea birds include Gannet,
Fulmar, Kittewake, GBB & LBB Gulls, Common Gull, Guillemot & Black
Regular waders are (in Autumn
and Winter) Greenshank, Redshank, Dunlin & Turnstone, and in Spring
& Summer months, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Oyster Catcher, (all
year round) also on the shore Rock pipit. In the open areas around the
loch are Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit & Sky Lark. The scrub areas hold
Stonechat, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Willow and many other warblers in the
Scanning the hills can regularly
produce White tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagle, (often flying together)
plus Raven, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk & Buzzard. Peregrine Falcon
are occasionally seen near the sea cliffs at Griburn area hunting Rock
Dove and Feral Pigeon, and there is always the chance of picking
up a Merlin as it flashes past.
In summer months, a very
rewarding walk along the shore of Loch Ba can produce Red-throated Diver,
Common Sandpiper, Pied & Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Redstart, Wood &
Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher & Tree Creeper. And one again, keep
scanning the horizon and hills for Raptors.
Mull Otter photo by Dean Bicknell
Loch Beg is the small loch
at the head of Loch Scridain and it is tidal and providing good opportunities
for feeding waders at all times of the year. There is good habitat for
Hen Harrier, Short eared Owl and occasional Merlin. With superb views of
the Ben More range of mountains, a scan of the hills will show Buzzard
and Raven and often pick up Golden Eagles and White tailed Sea Eagle.
Great Northern, Black throated
and Red throated Diver are regularly seen in winter on Loch Scridain. Duck
species include Goldeneye, Red breasted Merganser, Teal, Widgeon and Mallard.
Migrating Osprey have been regularly seen in both spring and autumn in
each of the past few years, opposite the Kinloch Hotel.
Along both shores there are
usually otters to be found and occasional sightings of Porpoise and Bottle
nosed Dolphin in the loch.
The scrub land around the
shores provides good cover for warblers and other summer migrants including
Whitethroat and Whinchat.
Along the north shore, Tiroran
bay can hold good numbers of Teal and Wigeon in winter and in its sheltered
bay, Slavonian Grebe and Divers can show well in winter.
There is a small herd of
Fallow Deer at Loch Buie with another herd in the Gruline area
The best place to see Corncrake
is on Iona in May, the birds arrive regulary at the end of April each year.
It is never an easy task seeing Corncrake, they are more often heard than
seen but a trip to Iona can be rewarding for this bird.
There are many other species
on the island and the journey from Craignure through Glen More gives opportunities
for Short eared Owl, Hen Harrier, Raven and Golden Eagles.
The drive along the length
of Loch Scridain can produce a wide assortment of birds.Stop at the Kinloch
Hotel and check out Loch Beg with a scope, it's one of the best wader sites,
and in Autumn up to 100+ Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Greenshank &
Redshank and others are regularly seen. It was here that we had our first
American Golden Plover, found amongst a flock of Golden Plover in 2005.
At Fionnphort make time to
check out Fidden, It's a great place to see Geese in Winter. In Spring
& Summer you have a good chance of seeing Corncrake at Fidden as they
are now begining to spread out from Iona. also Greenshank, and breeding
Redshank, Lapwing, Snipe, Common Sandpipers and other waders. In winter
flocks of White fronted geese,
Barnacle geese & Greylag
geese forage in the fields.
Nearer Bunessan the road down
to Uisken beach has an open habitat of scrub and heather and is ideal for
Merlin, Hen Harrier and Short eared Owl and smaller birds such as Stonechat,
Whinchat and warblers. Uisken Bay in winter can give good views of all
three Divers. While the iris beds in spring can hold newly arrived Corncrake
early in May. Loch Assapol in winter can hold Whooper Swan, White fronted
and Greylag Geese, Goldeneye and Tufted Duck.
Iona Corncrake by Garry Jenkins
Carsaig has the most spectacular
cliffs where, if you are lucky you can see Perigrine and Golden Eagles.
Sea birds include Fulmar, Gannets, Black Guillemot and out in the bay all
three Divers, Great Northern and Black throated Divers, autumn through
to spring and Red throated Diver all year round.
The Nunnery Iona
This is the web site
of Alan Spellman, 'Maridon' Lochdon, Isle of Mull. PA64 6AP