Bird Atlas on Mull

I went to Mull and included a couple of 2 hour surveys for the BTO Bird Atlas as well as some ‘roving records’.

The two 2 hour surveys were of tetrads that the Regional Organiser was having trouble getting someone to do full time.  One was on the Isle of Ulva, on an area I regularly visit.  This was a lovely day out and apart from getting sick of the sound of willow warblers, I had a real treat in seeing two golden eagles and a hen harrier, just as I came over the brow of the hill at the centre of the island.  The other was up on the top of the hills, with access from a minor road that just clipped the edge of the tetrad.  It was a pleasant walk on trackless moorland – it struck me that it was remarkably dry underfoot and I would have expected it that dry at that time of year.  We had quite  lot of rain later in the week to help redress the balance though.  I didnt see many birds really, mainly skylark and meadow pipit, but did see 3 buzzards who seemed to be 2 males vying for the attentions of a female, plus a male hen harrier a fair way off, gliding down the valley, so I saw him from above.  I also saw a party of red deer who looked at me is if they couldnt believe a human would be up there!  A nice walk and a nice area.

The sighting of the week was when I was doing the Mull Coast-to-Coast walk (as listed in the booklet of walks on the island).  I particularly wanted to do that walk as there were very few records for the central part for the BTO Bird Atlas.  I didnt add much: curlew, skylark, meadow pipit, wheatear on the moorland and willow warbler, cuckoo, chaffinch, goldcrest, coal tit in the forestry area;  but I saw a wildcat!  It was only about 25m from me, and fortunately I had seen it approaching and the wind was strong from it to me so it wouldnt scent me.  It looked at me as if it wasnt sure, then went back to hunting its prey!  Fantastic!

As I also saw otter and seal in the bay below the cottage where I stay on my first evening, it was an excellent week for wildlife!

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