A few more bits and pieces from last week's trip. I barely took the long lens off my camera all week, so some of the following scenics are courtesy of Rob.
Calm Loch Sunart, low-hanging mist and lots of rocky outcrops and islands - that's a typical Ardnamurchan view from most places on the south coastline, on most mornings. (Can you tell I've forgotten exactly where this one was taken...?)
A view from a hilltop near Glenborrodale - a village on the south coast, and also an RSPB reserve which we didn't get round to visiting. Those little figures on the shoreline are cows.
The famous primary-coloured houses of Tobermory on Mull, near the ferry slipway.
Boats in the harbour at Tobermory, from an elevated coastal footpath.
A rare 'selfie' - me with Tag the dog on our Loch Sunart trip. It's so painfully obvious from this photo that I'm not at all a dog person ;)
I'm always fascinated by how different zones on beaches are made of different stuff (to put it technically). There are layers on Sanna beach that are just periwinkle shells.
The volcanic geology of the peninsula is, apparently, of 'international significance'. I don't know anything much about geology, and was more interested in what was living on the rocks rather than the rocks themselves. In this case, limpets and barnacles.
Harebells were common all over and at their best. I found them very tricky to photograph - their broad shape makes it tricky to get depth of field right, and cameras are traditionally bad at capturing blue flower shades.
It's very much a common or garden flower, but I thought this Rosebay Willowherb looked great bedecked with raindrops.
It wasn't til I prepped the photo last night that I realised this ground beetle of unknown species, photographed in woods on Mull, had a couple of evil-looking little passengers. ETA - beetle IDed as probably Pterostichus madidus - and the passengers are mites that are merely hitchhiking and not hurting the beetle - thank you MarJus :) ETA again - or it could be P. nigrita - thank you Greenie for that suggestion :) think it is definitely a Pterostichus at least.
This Speckled Wood is (I presume) of the northern subspecies oblita. Looking at the distribution map, it looks likely that the southern but northwards-spreading subspecies insula is going to bump into oblita in the not-too-distant future - wonder what will happen then?
From the Mull ferry, a Razorbill watches enviously as a graceful Manxie glides past. We saw quite a few Razorbills from the boat (all distant) but only one Guillemot.
Another distant, horrid photo, but worth including because these sum-plum Red-throated Divers, seen from the village on our first day, were the only divers we saw all week.
The rusty old pontoon at Ardgour where the Black Guillemots were hanging out. I couldn't see any signs that they were actually nesting here though.
A Dunlin at Sanna bay. The Dunlins were much, much shyer than the Sanderlings, though not as shy as the Common Sandpipers.
Speaking of Sanderlings, two of the birds in the Sanna flock were rattling with colourful plastic. I've tracked down the project and emailed the guy in charge, but got an auto-reply saying he was in Greenland doing fieldwork. So I'm not holding my breath for the back-story on these birds.
Now then. We saw quite a few... um... examples of Columba livia during the week, and they all, without exception, had this pattern. They were also quite shy, avoided the villages for the most part, and certainly didn't cluster at our feet for breadcrumbs. So can I call them genuine Rock Doves? This one was on Mull, balancing nervously on a boat rope.
This Lesser Black-backed Gull with a poorly leg was a frequent sight around Kilchoan.
Gulls will be gulls, all over the world. Two Herrings and a Common sandwiched between them here.
The Kilchoan Buzzard strikes again. The dark eyes say it is an adult. According to locals, this bird mainly lives on what food scraps it can swipe from the enclosure of a couple of pigs by the coast path.
You know you've got a long way north-west because the crows change. Having only Hoodies around also helps speed up Raven identification. The Hoodies seem excessively nervous and unapproachable, hence this rather poor photo.
I spent a couple of hours on the last-but-one morning (not dawn, sadly) sitting by a rocky stream alongside the Kilchoan 'sandy beach', just before the stream reaches the sea. Lots of birds came to the water to drink, including this Goldfinch.
The 'sandy beach' is bordered by rocks, on which a Ringed Plover sat and yelled at me as I walked by. Then I spotted the reason for its agitation - a cute baby Ringed Plover pottering about below.
Not too many warblers up here. Just Willows (which are not singing any more) and Sedgies (which very much are).
All three hirundines were very much in evidence. We found the Sand Martin colony by the 'main road' near Loch Mudle. And Swallows were everywhere, as were House Martins.
A final selection of random birds. From the top: House Sparrow sitting pretty among blossoms at the Nadurra nature centre; juvenile Robin which, strangely enough, I heard singing just before I took this pic; a Snipe which is clearly drumming though I couldn't hear it; Skylark on dunes at Sanna; Siskin male spoilt for choice by the array of feeders on offer at Nadurra; a (probable) Merlin disappearing over a hillside at the western end of Kilchoan; Oystercatchers piping over Sanna; juvenile Starlings beginning to grow their winter spots; expertly camouflaged Twites by the rocky stream; and a lovely male Yellowhammer in Kilchoan.
And now this really is the end... Red Deer and the ears of her calf, and one last look at the Otter :)
I take photos, and I also write and illustrate books. My books include RSPB British Birds of Prey (published by A&C Black), The Nature Book (published by Michael O'Mara), RSPB Where to Discover Nature (published by Christopher Helm) and Photographing Garden Wildlife (published by New Holland). If you want to use any of the photos from this blog, find out what other photos I can supply or enquire about writing, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)