Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Autumn on Mull

Autumn is here and stalking on the hills of the island has started, so please take note and keep off the hills. There are plenty of good birds to see without going onto the hills. A trip round Loch na Keal can be very productive, both Goldies and Sea Eagles can be seen as well as many other raptors. At Lochdon there was a Hen Harrier roost at this time of year (last year) when I observed 17 birds coming into roost in the evening about this time of year. Great northern diver are now arriving and soon the sea lochs will be filled with these magnificent birds, also Red throats and Black throated Diver, perhaps the best place to see all three divers is Loch Buie. On Loch Scridain were 33 Scaup earlier this week and there are Slavonian grebe to be seen. We have lots of berried Rowan and Hawthorn just waiting to be eaten when the Redwings and Fieldfares arrive a little later, perhaps even some Waxwings, now that would be nice.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Rare moth on Mull

There was a rare hummingbird hawk moth at Salen today, by the shops and feeding from honeysuckle, also another was reported at Craignure just outside the Spar shop and feeding from the flowers for sale just outside the shop. I had never seen one in the wild before and I watched it for a minute and must say that I was impressed by its size.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A trip down to Fidden:

A trip down to Fidden with my friend Kevin today. There were lots of white wagtails amongst Pied wagtails and a bar tailed godwit allowed us to get close, I suspect it had only just arrived as it was so busy feeding that it took little notice of us. A young raven enjoyed some of my sandwiches. Lots of buzzards enjoying this sunny break in the awful wet weather we have been having these last weeks and several hundered greylag gesse were feeding in the fields. In loch scridain were about 20 common terns, several gannets but not a diver in sight.

Friday, 4 September 2009

migrating birds

At this time of year our birds are begining to migrate south, indeed some have already left. followers of this blog can use it to report any interesting sightings they see and I will post them onto my site at mullbirds. We had another osprey over the loch on 2nd, so thats five birds at least have passed through mull this last couple of weeks, plus others, perhaps, that have not been recorded. Log in your bird reports to share with visitors to mullbirds, Oh! and why not think of taking a winter break at mullbirds self catering ?
7th September 300+ migrating Swallows gathering at Grasspoint today. Off to Africa for the winter.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Ospreys over Lochdon

We had a couple of Osprey over the loch on 25th, fishing success for one of them which then flew to the 'Gorsten' end of the loch to eat it. There is a large dead tree by the side of the loch which is regularly used by them. No sign of any Osprey today, but still worth keeping an eye out as they start to migrate south down to Africa for the winter. I am sure we will get others over the next month. We are still waiting for a pair to settle here and breed, so far we have only had passing birds each spring and autumn.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Mike Madders

I just wanted to take a moment to express sadness at the tragic loss of Mike Madders and his young son. Mike lived on Mull at Grasspoint Cottage many years ago, I met him and enjoyed his company all to briefly. My thoughts are with his partner during this sad time.

Orchids on Mull - August 2009

Following the success of the getting the council to delay cutting of the verges, has meant that at least those flowers have been able to seed and hopefull (in time) multiply. A great find this year was a Pyramidal Orchid here on Mull, a single plant, and so far it's the only plant on the island. I managed to get some photo's before it was tramples either by cattle or humans. There are more images on mullbirds web site in the photo gallery.
And another very rare orchid was discovered, this being Birds nest Orchid, sorry I can't say where, but be pleased that there is a site here on Mull, and a third find this year is the rare Lapland Marsh Orchid and pictures are available on my site.

Now to bird news, migration is getting underway, my second brood of Swallows have already departed a few days ago and Waders are on the move as they move south, stopping off at Mull to rest and feed before continuing their journey south. Migrating birds include small parties of Dunlin, many still in their summer plumage, and Black and Bar tailed Godwit and a few Sanderling.
The Rowan trees are full of ripening berries and before long we weill have numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbirds decending on us to feed on our glorious fuits.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

more Orchid news

I have now found that the council will not now continue with any cutting of the grass verges until a new start date of 20th July (which is good news) I also hear that from next year they will look to cut only the culvets and leave the rest uncut. There are some 'safety requirements' whiich need to be checked out. As there are no footpaths, any walkers on the grass verges could fall into a culvet and damage themselves. Anyway this is all good news for our flowers, especially the rarer orchids.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Police hunt wild orchid diggers

Police hunt wild orchid diggers 6th July 2009
A number of orchids were uprooted and found in bags
A police investigation is under way after wild orchids were dug up from a woodland in the south of Scotland.
The flowers had been placed in bags for their removal when they were found at Dalry near Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway on Sunday.
Police have warned the public that wild orchids are a protected species under Scottish and European legislation.
They have asked anyone who may have seen the plants being uprooted to contact them with information.
Pc Neil Moffat said: "Wild orchids are a species of plant which are protected by European and national legislation.
"It is an offence under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 to 'deliberately or recklessly pick, collect, cut, uproot or destroy a wild plant'.
"Scottish Natural Heritage hold all relevant information regarding what wild flowers or plants may be and which should not be taken from the wild."
He added that general advice from SNH was to avoid picking any wild flowers.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Mull Orchids in June

my hobby horse:

once again our 'enviromentally friendly' council have contracted to cut the roadside verges at this time of year. Right now the road sides are full of wild flowers in full bloom, including birdsfoot trefoil, a valuable food plant for Butterflies. In flower are a variety of Orchids; The rare greater butterfly orchid, fragrant orchids, northerm marsh orchid and many others. In the next week they will all feel the blades of the mower, before they have had time to set seed and continue the renewal of older plants. If the council waited until the end of July to cut the verges then they would be behaving in an enviormentally friendly way.

On the bird front we have had an exciting month of June witha Scarlet Rosefinch being found in a garden at Kellan Mill by Loch na Keal on 16th and this is a first for Mull and only the 12th record for Argyll. We also have had a Lesser Whitethroat at Loch Buie reported by Ashley Saunders wh was leading a group from Oriole Adventures.

We have been enjoying some beautiful weather for the last three weeks's got to break sometime soon. This image is of a Greater Butterfly Orchid.
28th June...............Good news about the grass cutting. Following my 'strong e mail' I have been informed that grass cutting here on mull is being delayed until the end of July period. This is great news

Monday, 15 June 2009

Mull Orchids in June

15th June 2009. I have just received a report of a Hawfinch in a local garden in Calgary, Isle of Mull. This is a first record for Mull of this very scarce bird. Unfortunately there are no pictures but my thanks to Andrew and Helen Mortley for this report. It was Helen and Andrew who reported the first ever Nuthatch here on Mull , that was last year.

Earlier this month, on the 4th there was a report of an Ortolan Bunting at Craignure, and pictures were taken which I was able to see and I am delighted to be able to confirm this sighting of an extremley rare bird for the UK and it is a first for Argyll and for Mull. I am hoping that the people who found the bird will get back to me with photos as they said they would.

At the moment our island is full of beautiful orchids and today I went out with a friend and we found seven species, you can see some of the on my web site at in the gallery are several pages of orchid images.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The merry month of May

May is a great month and this year has been exceptional here on mull. At Craignure camp site on 9th was an Ortolan Bunting, a very scarce bird which I have never see. This is the first record for Mull and for Argyll. At Lagggan Bay is a White billed diver which has been hanging around on and off for a few weeks now. White billed divers are like a large Great northern but with a huge yellow/white bill, and this is diognostic and what you really notice about them. The Sea Eagles are all now feeding young and are very active, giving our visitors great sights. Short eared Owls and Hen Harriers are having a good year and numbers seem to be increased and a drive through Glen More will regularly give sightings of these bird.
All our small migrants have arrived now and I took this image of a Common Whitethroat on 19th at Killiechronan, as I watched it building its nest.
I have received a repport of a Red Kite in Glen Bellart and summer plumaged Ruddy Turnstone and Golden Plover. The Butterflies are 'coming out' and Orange tip, Green Hairstreak, Green veined White, Peacocks and Tortoishell have all been flying. Marsh Fruttillary should be making an appearance any time now. Our Orchid will be putting on a great show. Early Marsh, Northern Marsh, Butterfly Orchids, Common and Heath Spotted. Our Blue bells are looking beautiful this month.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Spring watch II

On Glen Forsa shoreline today were 25 White Wagtails, a dozen Meadow Pipits plus Skylarks. I helped my friends Arthur and Pam Brown on a Tetrad bird count today, It was a good day out and we saw Goldcrest and Goldfinch, lots of Wheatear and Meadow Pipits. A skein of 30+ Pink footed Geese flew north over us and there were two Great northern Divers very close inshore on Loch Spelve. Along the shore road at Lochdon there were 2 Orange tip Butterflies and the gorse is looking beautiful right now.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Spring watching

At Fidden there were 23 Black tailed Godwit passing through, kindly reported by Bryan Rains (Wild about Mull) I had a great day out down at Fidden last week where there were lots of Pied Wagtails and amongst then were at least 7 White Wagtail. A flock of Golden Plover about 150 strong which I searched through, hoping to find a Dotterel perhaps. There were hundreds of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and a couple of Twite.

There was a report of Ring Ouzel at Loch na Keal and I am sure we have breeding birds on the island, but so far this has not been confirmed. I am getting too old for climbing mountains and have to rely on others to pass on information. We have Sea Eagle chicks at two sites and others will follow these next few weeks. Its always a great feeling when our birds hatch, after watching and waiting for 38 days. Spring migrants are arriving daily and we have heard Grasshopper Warbler at Lochdon, Cuckoo and Tree Pipit. Its a great time of year.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Spring has arrived on mull

Spring has arrived, although you would not believe it by the awful weather wqe are having, it's been wild wet and windy.

Our first spring migrants have arrived with Wheatear always the first followed by sandmartin and swallow and a couple of days ago, a willow warbler and tree pipit. It won't be long before we hear our first cuckoo (about a weeks time). We have also seen good numbers of skylarks and meadow pipits arrive in this last week. Along with pied wagtails at Fidden I saw my first white wagtail of the year. Passing through at this time of year, again at Fidden) were 150 golden plover and 100+ lapwings. At Laggan Bay we found a summer plumaged slavonian grebe and also one at Dervaigh on loch Cuin, here at Lochdon wwe still have some wigeon and teal with us, they will be moving off shortly and wader numbers and species are increasing as new birds arrive, redshank, greenshank and ringed plover. The next wader to arrive to spend the summer here will be common sandpiper and then we will know that spring has really sprung.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Rare visitor to Mull

There is a 'rare' White billed Diver on Loch na Keal, it was there again yesterday. Was first found at Laggan Bay on 1st March, then disappeared for a few days to be seen on Loch na Keal on 3rd. The bird is still around and was seen again yesteday. Its only the third record for Mull, although further out in the 'outer isles' they are regularly reported in the sea.
Both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are still hanging around with two IOcelands beingh seen in Tobermory Harbour and a Glaucous Gull at Loch na Keal. Arthur Brown (Discover Mull) recorded a Common Coot at Dervaig (now this is a 'rare bird' for Mull) we have very few records of this common mainland bird.
Another winter bird reported is a drake Long tailed Duck, also at Laggan Bay, but a little way out at sea. A 'pair' of Common Scoter were on Loch Scridain, this is a regular site for these visiting sea ducks in winter,also have been seen on Loch na Keal.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A grey day can still produce results

It's a grey and damp day here on Mull today. A trip round loch na Keal the other day found several Great northern Diver, I counted 8 Slavonian Grebe, Shelduck, Goldeneye and Mergansers and 300 Barnacle Geese were on Inch Kenneth plus a sighting of a Merlin at Grinurn Rocks area. In Loch Scridain there were 2 Black Scoter (a pair). Spring is in the air as I watched a pair of Golden Eagles patroling their territory together and a Sea Eagle also made a brief appearance before disappearing over the hill..

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Berthalot's Pipit

Another Canarian bird is this Berthalot's Pipit which was found at 2786 metres.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Blue Chaffinch

This Blue Chaffinch (Fringilla teydea teydea) is resident to Tenerife, not as numerous as our UK Chafffinch, they live in the pine woods and this bird was at 2,000 metres.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Pic of the day

A good place to find Common Snipe in winter is on the shores of loch Cuin where they can find food even when it's cold and frosty on land.

Great northern Diver in Winter plumage. In the Sound of Mull 27th Jan, up to 5 birds between Craignure and Salen today plus a pair of Goosander drakes.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Glaucous Gull

The " Lucky Glaucous Gull" that escaped the Sea Eagle, and not an Iceland Gull as I first thought ! ........silly me doesn't know his gulls. Alan

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

RSPB Bird count this weekend 24th-25th January

RSPB bird count this weekend. (24th-25th Jan)
Take part in the RSPB survey this weekend. You can submit the results online at their website.
The survey is very simple. All you need to do is watch your garden or local park for an hour on either Saturday 24th or Sunday 25th January, note down the birds you see and tell us the highest number of each species you see at any one time in the hour (this avoids counting the same birds twice.)
If you put food out every day you will get a regular amount of birds even in a small garden .

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Rare bird visitors to Mull

Visitors to Mull are surprised when they discover that some 'common' birds found on the mainland are not here on Mull. For example there are no Moorhens or Coots and locals get quite excited when occasionally one is found. There are no Magpies on Mull and occasionally one flies across from the mainland only to be harassed by the Hoodies and Ravens to beat a hasty retreat back over the water. We don't have Green Woodpeckers, our only Woodpecker being the Great Spotted Woodpecker.
However we do occasionally get 'rare birds' visit our island and in 2007 there was: Black Redstart at Fionnphort (24th March) White billed Diver off Staffa (3rd May) a Sabines Gull off Iona (19th May) and Red backed Shhrike along the Grasspoint road (11th June) In 2008 we had our first ever Nuthatch at Calgary (10th April) and again at Craignure and Lochdon, (presumed to be the same bird), Lapland Bunting at Fionnphort (13th April) and Rose Coloured Starling at Dervaig (30th July) and again later at Bunessan, presumed to be the same bird. One never knows what might turn up at anytime and that's part of the joy of birdwatching I think.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Leucistic birds

29th Jan 2009
Paul Langhorn from Tobermory kindly sent this image of a Leucistic Blackbird that regularly visits gardens in Tobermory.

This little bird is a Leucistic Willow Warbler which visited mull in 2003, nested successfully and raised young, (along the Grasspoint road) and to our suprise, the same bird returned the following year to nest again successfully. (2004). It was a beautiful bird, locally named the "Mull Canary" and caused quite a sensation. For those interested, there are more images of this bird and a full explaination of Leucism, on my web site in the photo gallery. It's an interesting genetic fault and also appears in mammals.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Mull Winter weather

Today we have battened down in preparation for the storm coming in from the north west later tonight. We are already getting strong winds which are expected to reach gusts of 80 mph. So everything is tied down, there will be a high tide this evening. The garden birds have been very active on the feeders, funny how they seem to know that we are in for a spell of bad weather.
We had a great Bird Club meeting last night which included a light hearted photograph competition. Some brave members of the bird club have been on a field trip round Loch na Keal today.
After this weather pattern has moved through will be a good time to look out for any rarities that might have been storm bound and are taking refuge on the island. Caliach Point will be a good place to check out as the strong winds blow the gulls and other birds close inshore.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Mull Bird Club members - Annual Bird Race 10th January 2009

A report from Arthur & Pam Brown: (Arthur is the chairman of the club)

Weather gale force winds and lashing rain with occasional hail - Not the best day for the bird club annual January bird race but 12 hardy souls set off at 9 30am in 4 vehicles to find as many birds as they could in 6 hours. All together 72 species were seen in the day, a very creditable amount giver the conditions, only 17 down on last year when 28 people took part in 8 vehicles. The highlights in our vehicle were Snipe and Goosander at Dervaig, a Ring billed Gull on Loch Na Keal, White Tailed Eagle at Gruline and a single Barnacle Goose on the Rugby pitch at Garmony. Good sightings of winter thrushes, Pied and Grey Wagtail and a female Hen Harrier.

The highlight from the other vehicles was Common Scoter on Loch Scridain.

Friday, 9 January 2009


A cloudy day, but with some nice sunshine here at Lochdon. A trip to Grasspoint and I watched a Sea Eagle fly over the loch. The Lochdon/Grasspoint Sea Eagles are two of the original birds which were released from Rhum and they arrrived here around 1984. Since then they have produced many offspring of which some have paired up and are now breeding birds here on Mull. At Grasspoint in the Firth of Lorn were 2 Red throated and 1 Great northern Diver. On the road to Grasspoint a ringtail Harrier was hunting. I hear that there are a few Bramblings about.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

January 2009

A cold, frosty and grey day today, not really bright enough for any photography. A trip to Dervaig and Loch Cuin in the afternoon, on the frozen shores of the loch were 12 Ringed Plover a Redshank and a Whimbrel, about a dozen Teal, not a lot else moving. Nice to get home to a log fire and a dram (perhaps)

Friday, 2 January 2009

Latest reports page

I was wondering what visitors to my site thought about replacing my 'latest reports page' with this mullbirds blog, as there may be some duplication, and I would appreciate any comments either by e-mail or through this blog.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


Welcome mull birders, For 2009 I am introducing this blog page to my web site to encourage some informal blogging between fellow birders. Interesting sightings will be taken from the blog to go on the latest reports page.

Alan (mullbirds) Spellman