Having a wonderful time on Mull by Peter C

Mull scenery 1

Stunning landscapes on the Isle of Mull

We work very hard on all our tours to make them special for our guests, and after our recent Birdwatching Trip to Mull, we asked if our guests would be happy to give us some feedback on how it was for them. However, we didn't expect to get quite such a wonderful response from one guest, Peter, who's given us permission to share his comments with you. Here's our 'Otters and Eagles on Mull' tour through Peter's eyes:

Great Northern Diver Rhyl

Great Northern Divers were plentiful

Each time we go on a trip with Alan Davies and Ruth Miller of Birdwatching Trips with The Biggest Twitch, we are asking ourselves “Can it possibly be better than the last one?”, and the answer up to date has been a definite “Yes”. But the promise of four full days on the Isle of Mull in late March, when the weather forecasts suggested rain and high winds and even snow, seemed in advance to offer no competition with previous sun-filled outings in more southerly climes. And yet these two brilliant enthusiastic guides came up with the goods, and we had a fantastic time in great company (six of us in all in addition to Alan and Ruth) watching an array of eagles, divers, otters, and much more besides.

Otter Mull 9

We saw plenty of otters during our trip

It was all helped from the start by Ruth’s clothing guide. The gentle persistence in her pre-trip notes that we should take layers, and more layers, finally got through to us, and we purchased long-johns, glove-liners and base-layers, and followed Ruth’s advice to wear waterproof over-trousers on every outing. So when, on the first day of the trip, the storm did hit for a short while, we felt unbelievably warm and cosy as we watched a white-tailed eagle just overhead from our shelter by a fish-farm. As it turned out, the rain was only occasional, the winds rarely evident, and the snow absent, so birdwatching was uninterrupted. Not that Alan would ever allow unnecessary interruptions to the business of seeing everything that was around us. The beauty of going out with Alan and Ruth is that, even after all these years of watching birds, they dwell on the beauty and behaviour of all the birds we see, not just on ticking off the rarities (although they are conjurors at finding those too). They spend time and patience with those of us who are not experienced birders, discussing the science and the ecology of the birds and the animal life around, whilst always encouraging and giving time to those who are more advanced.

The result was all sorts of firsts for us. We saw golden eagles and sea eagles every day, often in close-up and sometimes in glorious confrontations with each other or a passing buzzard or raven. We learned how to follow a hen harrier in flight using the instantly available telescopes, placed with inch-perfect precision by our guides. The shape of the Great Northern Diver and the flight of the Black Guillemot became familiar to our initially inexperienced eyes by the end of the trip. We watched an otter eating his lunch among the seaweed, and red-breasted mergansers displaying in front of us. Everything had a magical touch because of the wildness and the subtle shadings in the ever-present background of hills, moors and sea. On all counts, this was an outstanding trip.

Black Guillemot landing

Black Guillemot splash-down!

But that was not all, because a crucial part of the enjoyment of a trip with Alan and Ruth is the fun and the food and the being with other people and the good places to stay. Alan and Ruth know how to host a trip and create good vibes in a group - it’s not just about finding the birds. And this is what made the trip such a great all-round experience.

White tailed eagle

White-tailed Eagle

But you do have to be aware that you are in the presence of enthusiasts. The two of us stayed in a hotel on the night before we met up with Alan and Ruth and the others, and we had to leave our room in haste in the middle of the night and go outside because of a fire alarm. We were telling Alan the tale when we met, and his first response was “Did you take your binoculars with you?” We had failed the crucial test. But it was the start of the holiday. By the end of the week, our binoculars had pride of place at the room exit in case of emergency.

Peter C.

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