Skipper Martin McWhirr was supported by Chef Michael, Engineer David and Bosun Hazel.
Our new 6-night cruise “Around Mull: Wildlife Explorer” was everything we had hoped for with most species putting in an appearance. Departing Oban in spectacular sunny weather we cruised up Loch Linnhe to our first anchorage on Loch a choire on the Morvern Coast. The scenery was stunning with the loch fringed by high mountains and the snow topped cap of Ben Nevis glinting in the distance Otters have been spotted here on previous cruises but weren’t coming out to play this time. We did however get some close sightings of red deer including a large stag and the first of many sightings of graylag geese. Our first meal on board courtesy of Chef Michael was a stunning main course of halibut, scallop and lobster which set the standard for the rest of the week.
The following day the weather was again idyllic as we headed across the Sound of Mull to a shore visit at Duart Castle on Mull. There was not a lot of wildlife out as we cruised – just a few black guillemots and shags on the water. For those of us opting to stay out in the sunshine, the scrub at the bottom of Duart Castle provided shelter for woodland birds, including chaffinch and linnets. Close views of wheatear and rock pipit on the shore were a bonus as we sat enjoying the sunshine, the birdsong, the views and the sound of the waves on the shingle and waiting our transfer back to the Glen Massan and onward to Tobermory. There was barely a ripple on the Sound of Mull and we reached Tobermory Bay to be dropped off onshore in good time for a walk in Aros Park before dinner. While out on the tender on returning to the boat, we had a close look at the shags on their nests beside the lovely waterfall in Tobermory Bay .
On the Monday we were picked up by David Woodhouse for our land tour of the Isle of Mull which proved to be a great day. Not only did we see lots of wildlife, we toured spectacular landscapes in the National Scenic Area of the Island. The main areas for spotting wildlife were Loch na Keal, Loch Scridain and Loch Beg, then on to Loch Spelve with its wonderful native oak woodland. On the day we had several sightings of white-tailed eagles, plus fabulous views of golden eagle . Another highlight included several sightings of Great Northern Diver, now displaying summer plumage. These birds have been wintering on Mull and will be heading off to their breeding grounds in Greenland, Canada etc in May. We were able to watch an otter relaxing on Scarisdale Rocks in Loch na Keal, getting great close up views through the telescope. See the bottom of the blog for a full list of birds seen on our land tour, plus common seal and a dead polecat! Monday ended on a spectacular note with a fabulous sunset in Tobermory Bay and a visit from a small pod of porpoises which played around for half an hour in the Bay.
Tuesday saw a change in the weather, and with some windy conditions forecast we left the shelter of the Sound of Mull, heading around the top of the Island. We had great views of the Treshnish Isles as we cruised past to our sheltered anchorage in Bunessan, ready for our trip ashore to explore Iona the following day and then on to Ulva and Gometra. On the west coast of Mull, the puffins were out in force to the delight of guests and also spotted were Great Skuas, Gannets, Fulmars and Kittiwakes in abundance.
Species spotted on the land trip were:
Common seal ; Eurasian Otter; Porpoise; Red Deer
Buzzard; Chaffinch; Common Gull; Common Sandpiper; Cormorant; Dipper; Eider; Great Black Backed Gull; Greylag Geese; Golden Eagle; Great Northern Diver; Heron; Hooded Crow; Lesser Black Backed Gull; Mallard; Meadow Pipit; Mistle Thrush; Oystercatcher; Pied Wagtail; Pheasant; Raven; Rock Pipit; Shag; Shelduck; Skylark; Stonechat; Swallow; Swans (nesting); Twite; White-tailed Eagle; Wheatear;