Signs of Spring,
January always seems a long month, this year has been different for us as its flown by. Perhaps because the weather has been frosty and snowy. It’s been great a real winter rather than wet and dreary.
You may have already picked up that we have made the difficult decision to stop doing the tours. There are a few reasons such as our licenses are due this year and we are not getting our usual rush of bookings due to the continuing uncertainty, its time to change things and have more time for us. We are missing seeing people and it does feel strange, but the cottages will be open at some point and we are starting to freshen them up ready to welcome everyone back.
When we have been out and about we are seeing businesses starting to prepare for the season, We think it will be a delayed start but its important to be careful. We have been lucky here as any cases of covid have been quickly isolated meaning low numbers and we have a bit of freedom to move around.
Wildlife has been interesting; the garden birds seem to have disappeared or when they are at the feeders they are nervous. Perhaps the frequent visits from the Sparrowhawks are causing this, or maybe the cold weather has made a difference. Although we did have a good number for the RSPB Big Garden bird watch.
We also did the Mull birds big bird count, I will list the birds at the bottom of this page. We are doing our own wildlife count at the end of each month to watch the changes as the seasons go through it includes mammals as well and anything else of interest. I will post this each month.
Golden Eagles are displaying and the White-tailed Eagles are starting to take sticks into nests. We see them around shore lines looking for a tasty meal washed up. It’s a little early to know where they will settle but its just great to watch them. We are noticing pairs of ducks now and Ravens exploring for nest sites. The Great Northern divers are gathering to roost on Loch na Keal, 60 plus seen sofar as the numbers build. We have lots of mixed flocks of birds with Blue tits, long tailed tits, chaffinch, greenfinch and tree creeper. They pass through the garden sometimes and the treecreeper comes onto the hawthorn by our back door.
Hen Harriers are hunting near the shore at this time of year and the red deer are down from the hills. We are seeing large groups of stags together as well as groups of hinds. The fallow deer at Gruline are easy to see and the dipper is on his rock by the bridge at Knock. There has been a Kingfisher for some time at Loch Don, we finally managed to see it. The flash of Blue unmistakable as it dived in to fish.
Loch Cuin is always a great place for waders with good numbers of snipe, Greenshank, red shank and little grebe. The otter is often around and the rock doves on their favorite boulder.
Otters are out on shore quite a lot just now, we think because of the water being so cold as they will chill faster while fishing and are seen bringing small fish out to eat rather than staying in the water. We have some lovely close encounters with them as they have come out near us. They are just a joy to watch.
It’s the little signs of Spring that make you realise winter is on the way out. The Hazel catkins are starting to show ready to drop and shoots of Daffodils coming up with Snowdrops opening. or Garden is slowly coming to life.
We now have a community woodland at Ardura, this is situated just after the Loch Buie turn as your head from Craignure to Kinloch starting after the cattle grid. Its lovely ancient woodland with mainly Oak and Birch and he old road runs through it. The track has been restored keeping its natural appearence. The local schools have been involved with building Bird boxes to go into the trees, 22 in all. They are numbered so each family have their own to monitor. Mike and I helped to put the first 5 up with more to come as soon as the weather allows. We also put up an owl box in the hope to attract a barn owl. It was great watching the children getting involved. They did a Gruffalo trail and planted some native trees. Only one welly off and a wet sock.
As we head into February the sun is out and the days are getting longer, lets see what is out there in the world of wildlife.
Mull birds big bird count 53 different bird species,