Birdwatching on the Isle of Mull
This is the only place in Britain where White-Tailed Sea Eagles can be viewed from an organised hide and there a huge variety of habitats which attract lots of species to the island.
The Isle of Mull is a favourite place for bird watchers and has a large list of regularly seen species including many breeding raptors as well as rare and endangered birds. Every other telegraph pole seems to be a buzzard's perch and from every quarter comes the sight and sound of birds. The habitats 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 en-route.
Mull birdlife is of year round interest, but particular birds are obviously more plentiful at certain seasons that others. For migrants the best months are April/May and August until October. The optimum time for sea birds is the high summer. Wintering species such as Great Northern Divers and various types of wildfowl and shorebird, start to arrive in number during October and most linger until at least the following April.
*Please note that much of the following information about birds is taken from the Mull Birds website*
One of the best localities on Mull for birdwatching is Lochdon around which we can offer a variety of cottages to rent. Lochdon is 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 migrants.
Ardnadrochet Cottage, Stable Cottage, Grasspoint Cottage and the Old Ferry House are all in the Lochdon area and therefore in excellent postions for a good concentration of local birdlife with a variety of habitats. Auchnacraig Lodge is also this same area and has exceptional panoramic views from the living area where you can set up a telescope and watch birds all day!
The Coach House and the Studio Apartment are also close to Lochdon.
Good views of White tailed Sea Eagle can usually be had all year round from Lochdon and Grasspoint, also regularly seen are Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk, Tawny Owl, Short eared Owl and Hen Harrier and occasional Barn Owl, Merlin and 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.
Salen is also a great central base for those wanting to branch out and access lots of different parts of the island, so all the houses on the Glenaros Estate are well placed too (Kate's, Shepherd's, Fonn Aline, Garden and Glenaros House). An exceptional base for nature lovers and birdwatchers are Clover and Daisy Cottage at Fishnish (5 minutes South of Salen) which share use of an observatory overlooking Fishnish Bay and a biology lab with games and crafts for the kids.
Loch na Keal (10 minute drive from Salen) is one of the largest sea lochs and offers opportunities to see many of Mull's best birds. In winter through to early spring, Slavonion Grebe, in eclipse and in summer plumage, Great northern and Red throated Diver. Winter ducks are Wigeon, Teal and Goldeneye, plus all year Red breasted Mergansers, Mallard, Eider and Shelduck. Sea birds include Gannet, Fulmar, Kittewake, GBB and Common Gull, Guillemot & Black Guillemot. Macquarie House therefore has a superb position for those wanting easy access to this beautiful sea loch and Calgary Cottage on the west coast, is great for sea birds too.
Regular waders are (in autumn and winter) Greenshank, Redshank, Dunlin and Turnstone, and in spring and summer months, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Oyster Catcher (all year round). Also on the shore Rock pipit and in the open areas around the loch are Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit and the Sky Lark. The scrub areas hold Stonechat, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Willow and many other warblers in the summer months.
For those staying on the Ross of Mull and at Torr na Locha, Ormsaig Cottage or Achadaphail the drive along the length of Loch Scridain can produce a wide assortment of birds. 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 and Redshank and others are regularly seen.
Nearer Bunessan 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.
Carsaig has spectacular cliffs where, if you are lucky, you can see Golden Eagles and Peregrine Falcons. Sea birds include Fulmar, Black Guillemot, Gannets, and out in the bay all three Divers, Great Northern and Black throated Divers (autumn to spring) and Red throated Diver all year round.
Raptors include Golden Eagle and White-tailed Sea Eagle, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, 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 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 Wigeon and Teal over-winter with Shelduck, Goldeneye and Merganser. All three Divers can be seen at different times of the year. Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver in winter on the sea lochs and Red-throated Diver in fresh water lochs in summer and spring. Slavonian Grebe and occasional Red-necked Grebe can be seen on the beautiful sea lochs in the winter months.
All the sea lochs on Mull hold otters and there are excellent opportunities to see Mulls otters along many of the coastal roads. There are many good vantage points from which to watch sea birds, including, Guillemot, Shag, Cormorant and Black Guillemot with occasional Gannet and Great Skua. Boat trips are available to take you to the Treshnish isles during the summer where you can get close to nesting birds such as Puffin, Shag, Kittiwake, Guillemot and Razorbill.
White Tailed Sea Eagle Hide
Mull is the only location in Britain where the White-tailed Sea Eagles can be viewed from an organised hide, which is manned by knowledgeable wildlife rangers and the RSPB's White-tailed Eagle Officer for the island.
The Forestry Commission Bird Hide has been specifically designed for viewing the Isle of Mull's celebrity Sea Eagles. The Eagle Hide is now open all year - booking is essential.
Call 01680 812556 for more information.