Monday 23rd - Monday 30th April 2018MAGICAL MULL
The Isle of Mull situated off the west coast of Scotland, has varied habitats including mountains, moorland, sea lochs, hill lochans, damp boggy marshes, sandy beaches and open seas. These amazing sites support a good range of both resident and migrant species such as Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Twite, Corn Crake, Atlantic Puffin and Manx Shearwater plus a whole host of other wildlife.
Tour Leader: Steve Grimwade
Maximum Group Size: 8
We travel from Essex and head for the area around Upper Teasdale to search for Black Grouse. These fantastic birds may be seen from the roadside during the day. Other species to look for are Ring Ouzel, Eurasian Woodcock, Northern Wheatear and Willow Ptarmigan amongst others. A nearby river is good for White-throated Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher whilst the open moors hold European Golden Plover in their smart breeding plumage.
Early evening we arrive at our overnight stop close to Carlisle and here we will enjoy a good meal and a good night’s rest.
After a hearty breakfast we drive northwards and once clear of Glasgow, will stop at several spots along the way. These areas consist of mainly oak woodland rising to moorland and they are home to some good birds. Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Common Redstart and Western Osprey nest nearby.
We arrive in Oban mid-afternoon for our 45 minute sailing to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. From the docks in Oban we can expect to see our first Black Guillemots. These nest in the harbour and as we cross the Sound of Lorn we will get our first spectacular views of Mull.
Seabirds can be seen during our crossing with the chance of Manx Shearwater, Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Common Guillemot and Razorbill and who knows, we may see our first White-tailed Eagle soaring over Mull!
Arriving at our hotel and our base for five nights, we settle into our comfortable accommodation before enjoying some delicious home cooked food.
After a good breakfast we explore the areas around Lochdon, Loch Spelve and Glen More, all situated on the east of the island. The tidal sea lochs of the former two sites are home to a good variety of species including Great Northern, Black-throated and Red-throated Divers and passage waders such as Whimbrel, Common Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone and Common Sandpiper. White-tailed Eagles are regularly seen here and from nearby Grasspoint we have seen both Harbour Porpoise and Bottle-nosed Dolphin feeding in the rich waters. This area is also a good place to see Otter.
Glen More valley offers stunning views of Ben More, Mull's highest peak at 966m. The rocky crags and moorland are home to good numbers of White-tailed and Golden Eagles, as well as being one of the best places on the island to see Short-eared Owl and Hen Harrier.
Today will be spent on the Isle of Iona, just a ten minute foot ferry ride from Fionnphort. This small island is home to the elusive Corn Crake as small numbers of this summer visitor breed in the grassy fields and Iris beds. Although tricky to see, we will spend as much time as possible to observe these birds as they call from cover.
Twite breed in small numbers and Rock Doves can be seen on the western side of the island which are near to being pure birds. We will see the famous Abbey, dating back to AD563.
Our day will be spent on a five and a half hour cruise to the atmospheric Treshnish Isles, followed by the magnificent island of Staffa.
The Treshnish Isles and Staffa are both SSSIs and provide breeding habitat for nationally important numbers of seabirds. If you want to see Atlantic Puffins then this is the place to be, as they can be around your feet! Other goodies here are Northern Fulmar, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake and European Shag and offshore we should see divers and Arctic and Great Skuas as well as Manx Shearwater.
Staffa hosts the world famous 'Fingal's Cave' which is formed completely in hexagonal jointed basalt columns and rises to 227ft within the cavern. A similar range of seabirds can be seen here and offshore we can expect to see Northern Gannet and hopefully cetaceans such as Minke Whale, dolphins and porpoises.
We visit the north and western parts of the island today searching for Great Northern, Red and Black-throated Divers, Black Guillemot and various ducks such as Common Scoter and Common Eider feeding on the vast sea lochs.
Hillsides and moorland regularly produce White-tailed and Golden Eagles plus Northern Raven and Peregrine that hunt Rock Dove and Feral Pigeon. The shoreline is a good place to see Common Sandpiper, Rock Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Common Ringed Plover and Eurasian Oystercatcher.
Scrubby areas hold European Stonechat, Whinchat, Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat and we hope to find good numbers of wildflowers on the roadside verges.
We say goodbye to Mull as we take the late morning ferry back to the mainland at Oban. Driving southwards we spend the late afternoon at a site where we hope to find nesting Peregrine Falcon, as well as Northern Raven on the rocky crags before arriving at our overnight stop close to Lancaster.
After breakfast we drive the short distance to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, where woodlands and reedbeds will be alive with birdsong. Western Marsh Harriers will be quartering the reedbed and Eurasian Bitterns will be 'booming' and with luck we may see this superb bird.
A wide variety of warblers including Reed, Sedge, Eurasian Blackcap, Garden, Chiffchaff and Willow can be heard singing. With a superb cafe and a good number of hides, we are sure to enjoy our visit.
At mid-afternoon we leave for our journey home.
Full board accommodation for 7 nights
All ground transport
Return ferry crossing to Mull
Excursion to Iona
Cruise to Treshnish Isles/Staffa
Full guiding services
Drinks and items of a personal nature
Lunch on day one
Relaxed, one to two miles walking per day
Expect between 130 and 150 species
Tour Price: £1380
Single Supplement: £150