We had the very good luck of a sighting of a short eared owl in the field in front of the house the other day, it was early evening and we had gone for a wander on a hunt for hares. A bird flew past us at some distance but it had the unmistakable body shape of an owl. Fortunately I was able to follow it by eye and it landed on a fence post out in the moss. My friend was able to pull it in with her camera and it was easy to identify the short eared owl by its flat face and distinctive facial feathers.
After watching the short eared owl for a while and as it showed no signs of taking to flight again we carried on with our wander in the search for Hares. This gave us the second wonderful photo opportunity of a Skylark with Lismore lighthouse in the background, we had watched the Skylarks undulating flight up into the sky singing its heart out and then it glided back down to once again land on a fence post. Using me as a steadying tripod my friend snapped off several photos with the resulting photograph here.
We were to have no luck with Hares that day but the following evening about 6pm I was suddenly aware of movement just outside our fence and there was a hare sitting and grooming itself not 30 metres from the front room window. The Hares haven’t been quite as prevalent in the past few years perhaps that coincides with the arrival of a pair of Sea Eagles across the field towards Duart castle. What hare in it’s right mind would want to be in it’s white winter coat in a green field with not a hint of snow anywhere with resident Sea Eagles in the area? This particular hare just had the remnants of its winters coat down its back legs so wasn’t quite as obvious.
From watching Sea eagles mating to currently undergoing a bit of a turf war, it has been a very interesting year so far.
It seems that a new pair and their juvenile are attempting to move into the area of our resident pair. Over the last week or so this has resulted in some wonderful viewings for us. At one stage we had 5 Sea Eagles all in the air. As is quite often the case our guests at the time had left to visit Iona leaving just Mike and myself here to enjoy the show.
There was a degree of Talon locking and lots of calling from all the Sea Eagles until the intruders flew off towards Duart Castle leaving our pair triumphantly sitting on ‘their’ ridge vocalising very loudly to each other.
We walked across the field towards Duart as the Eagles appeared to go down into the neighbouring field with a real purpose. We watched two of the three new Sea eagles sitting rather uncomfortably on the fence posts but couldn’t see the third until it flew up with what looked like the remains of a hare in it’s talons. It was closely followed by it’s mate and the juvenile.
The juvenile Sea Eagle has no white tail as yet, is quite dark in its plumage and is considerably larger than its parents. Although as able a flyer as the adults it was quite ungainly when it tried to land in the top of a tree and had to make two or three attempts before it finally managed to perch safely.
We have had some very special moments whilst watching Sea Eagles this year, also some of the harder side of nature too. We watched in disbelief during lambing time as one of the Sea Eagles flew in and took a new born lamb whilst the farmer was in the field checking his stock. The arrival of RSPB scarecrows (6 in all) helped a wee bit but the Sea Eagles rapidly became used to them, much quicker than we did. Flourescent orange automated scarecrows standing up every half hour or so did tend to catch the eye for a while.
We never tire of watching Sea Eagles and truly appreciate how very lucky we are to be able to watch these magnificent birds literally from the comfort of our front room. This Sea Eagle, one of a pair that has decided to nest nearby, dropped in to the mound 30 metres from the front room window.
The Red Deer on Mull seem to be missing the worst of the wintery weather that is affecting most of England, however here at High Oatfield Bed & Breakfast it is very chilly outside and there is snow on the hill tops but it is yet to get down to our level.
The Red Deer Stags are also staying at the lower levels to avoid the snow and who can blame them? They have lost a bit of condition after the rutting season so a mild winter will suit them much better than a very cold snowy one. Continue reading
Barn Owls on Mull often become active just after dusk and the sight of a ghostly pale Barn Owl hunting for voles on the road verges and through the tussock grass is a sight to behold. Like most owls the Barn Owl flies silently, tiny serrations on the leading edges of its flight feathers help to break up the flow of air over its wings, thereby reducing turbulence and the noise that accompanies it.
The Barn Owl has acute hearing, with ears placed asymmetrically for improved detection of sound position and distance, and it does not require sight to hunt. Hunting nocturnally it can target and dive down, penetrating its talons through snow, grass or brush to seize rodents with deadly accuracy. Continue reading