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
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
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
are available to take you to the Treshnish isles during the summer where
you can get close to nesting birds, Puffin, Shag, Kittiwake, Guillemot
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.
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
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 and Autumn.
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.
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).
give good views of local sea birds, Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Fulma,
GBB & LBB Gulls & occasional Gannets, & Kittewake.
often seen in the Sound of Lorn from a Grasspoint vantage point.
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
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 North America.
always well worth checking Loch na Keal with your scope for rarities or
Sea birds include
Gannet, Fulmar, Kittewake, GBB & LBB Gulls, Common Gull, Guillemot
& Black Guillemot.
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 summer months.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
& Greylag geese forage in the fields.
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