Nature Scotland‘s Ewan Miles joins us to share five ways to embrace ‘Wild Autumn’ on the Isle of Mull this year.
Nature’s Colour Palette
Walk though multi-coloured landscapes with lochs nestled against a backdrop of red, gold and amber. As mother nature takes off her summer wear and transitions into her autumnal coat, the colour palette on display is breath-taking around the island. From the rustic tones on the open moors, the many shades of greens and oranges in the surrounding woodlands and the glistening blue and green turquoise seas. Whatever the weather, get out and connect with nature, from the sights, smells and sounds.
Roaring Red Deer
One of the UK’s greatest natural events takes place on Mull during autumn. When the female red deer (hinds) come into season, this triggers off the incredible spectacle of the red deer rut. For months leading up to this time of the year, sexually mature red deer stags have been preparing for the most important contest of their lives – access to a harem of fertile females. The fight starts vocally, and if this is not enough to ward off a competitor, rivals parallel-walk before locking antlers.
Rut activity peaks during the three hours after dawn and before dusk, so arrive early and be prepared to stay late. Approach downwind, use vegetation as cover, tread softly and avoid sudden movements. And always keep your distance and do not intrude on their natural behaviour.
Autumn is great time to enjoy watching bird of prey on the Isle of Mull. After the breeding season, the abundance of raptors on the island actually increases due to the fledged juveniles present along with new arrivals appealed by the milder oceanic conditions with less snow and ice throughout the winter months. Species like hen harrier, kestrel, sparrowhawk and merlin may visit Mull during the autumn months and they may have arrived from mainland Britain or even continental areas.
There is also a great movement with young and non territorial eagles who are seeking out vacant openings on the island. Satellite tagging has shown that young birds also revisit their natal areas and parent birds are more tolerant of their presence within the territory.
Painting with Light
Mull’s dynamic weather systems and changing light provides endless admiration and beauty, making it a photographer’s paradise. The ‘golden hour’ is more accessible in the autumn and often can last for longer than an hour, or even most of the day!
This is the period of the day where the sun is low on the horizon and creates a soft ‘golden’ light which is excellent for photo opportunities. The cooler temperatures will also increase the clarity in the air and create a better quality of photograph, helping you get those sharper images.
Otters also provide a fantastic photo subject at this time of the year as they increase their time feeding in coastal areas. Also spring and summer reared cubs will be hopefully water-based, providing some exciting opportunities to watch family groups learning and playing.
The Dark Side
Mull is located below some of the darkest skies in the whole of Europe. A clear autumnal night on the island can provide breath-taking views of the wondrous night sky. A satellite image of our continent at night will display the value of the west coast of Scotland and its unpolluted skies.
The island’s high latitude location provides an increased chance of observing the northern lights throughout the darker autumnal months. For reasons not fully understood by scientists, the auroral displays are stronger around the equinox periods, so this increases displays of the ‘merry dancers’ during September and October.
The milder temperatures during autumn also means that you can spend a longer time out under the stars.
Ewan and the Nature Scotland team will be providing a range of land-based wildlife tours during the autumn on Mull with Isle of Mull Cottages’ guests entitled to a 10% discount on any day tour booked during 28th August – 1st November 2023. On booking enter the discount code ‘IOMC_Autumn2023’