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Visiting Mull?

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Old Wednesday 5th August 2020, 17:55   #1
Gleb Berloff
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Visiting Mull?

I am very interested in visiting Mull after this virus disappears, because I would really like to see white-tailed eagles up close, and by the photos I have seen people there provide excellent opportunities, golden eagles and hen harriers.
I don't own a car, and would like to know if the island can be reached by public transport? I live in Cambridge, so maybe a plane to Glasgow or Inverness and from there by bus or train?
I would like to know any suggestions anyone has. Because I would love to see these wonderful birds.
I remember as a little kid reading them as just getting a talon-hold on Scotland, now they're flourishing and can be viewed extremely well.
In addition, can Abernethy Forest be visited in the same way by public transport to see ospreys and capercaillie?
the ospreys are supposed to be easy, but I have serious doubts about capercaillie. In fact, a visit to a place like Norway might be much better.
Thanks!
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Old Wednesday 5th August 2020, 18:03   #2
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Hi Gleb

You could start off with looking at our Opus article for the island, which has a lot of information and links that would be useful for you.

You can fly there from Glasgow. Alternatively bus/train to Oban then a ferry to Craignure. Buses meet the ferry and can take you west towards Iona or north through Salen and up to Tobermory.

The last time I was that way, Caledonian McBrayne (who run the ferries) had some day trips available to visit, for instance the Isle of Staffa and the Treshnish Islands (Puffins galore), and also linked up with a wildlife tour operator who took you round in a Land Rover to see the different species. You might want to check if they're still available when you're thinking of going, as they were very good value for money.

Some of the wildlife tour operators will meet you off the ferry, so you don't need a car for that.

Hope this helps.
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Old Thursday 6th August 2020, 08:05   #3
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Abernethy is very easy to visit by public transport, especially if you enjoy some fairly long walks as well. Aviemore makes a convenient base: easy to reach by train, lots of accommodation (including campsites and hostels) and places to eat, decent bus services to nearby locations, plenty of easy local walks for things like Crested Tits, Redstarts, roding Woodcocks, Red Squirrels, etc.

You can easily see the Ospreys at Loch Garten RSPB by bus and a short walk. They also have Capercaillie viewing here but you have to go VERY early in the morning so, without a car, you would be better off staying in Boat of Garton the night before and walking there before dawn.

Another bus service will get you from Aviemore to the car park halfway up Cairngorm, from where you can walk up to the plateau for Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Snow Bunting, Ring Ouzel and Mountain Hares. If you take the cable car up in summer then you are not allowed out of the visitor centre to the high tops (but I think you can walk up and get the cable car back down to the car park). If you don't mind a long walk you can go from Aviemore to Loch an Eilein and then follow paths up out of the forest and up to the top of Cairngorm, coming back down by cable car and bus. This should give you a full selection of forest and mountain birds.

Another nearby location that can be visited by bus is Loch Ruthven RSPB for Slavonian Grebes.
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Old Thursday 6th August 2020, 08:40   #4
Sandra (Taylor)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowLowFlyingTurkey View Post
Abernethy is very easy to visit by public transport, especially if you enjoy some fairly long walks as well. Aviemore makes a convenient base: easy to reach by train, lots of accommodation (including campsites and hostels) and places to eat, decent bus services to nearby locations, plenty of easy local walks for things like Crested Tits, Redstarts, roding Woodcocks, Red Squirrels, etc.

You can easily see the Ospreys at Loch Garten RSPB by bus and a short walk. They also have Capercaillie viewing here but you have to go VERY early in the morning so, without a car, you would be better off staying in Boat of Garton the night before and walking there before dawn.

Another bus service will get you from Aviemore to the car park halfway up Cairngorm, from where you can walk up to the plateau for Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Snow Bunting, Ring Ouzel and Mountain Hares. If you take the cable car up in summer then you are not allowed out of the visitor centre to the high tops (but I think you can walk up and get the cable car back down to the car park). If you don't mind a long walk you can go from Aviemore to Loch an Eilein and then follow paths up out of the forest and up to the top of Cairngorm, coming back down by cable car and bus. This should give you a full selection of forest and mountain birds.

Another nearby location that can be visited by bus is Loch Ruthven RSPB for Slavonian Grebes.
AFAIK the centre at Loch Garten has been closed and certainly no ospreys have used the nest there this year. Capercaillies are in very short supply there too.
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Old Thursday 6th August 2020, 09:53   #5
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Hi

From Cambridge, surely Rutland Water would be easier for Ospreys though admittedly not too close for photography.

Loch Garten, beautiful though it is, can be a very frustrating experience, almost birdless sometimes. And there are no ospreys this year.

Once on Mull, you should do a day-trip with one of the specialist companies. Golden eagles are not easy to get close to though because they are wild by nature, same with any harriers. In fact the best views I have ever had of Hen Harriers are at Wicken Fen in winter from Tower Hide, just a few miles from Cambridge.
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Last edited by wolfbirder : Thursday 6th August 2020 at 15:59.
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Old Thursday 6th August 2020, 10:19   #6
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Originally Posted by Sandra (Taylor) View Post
AFAIK the centre at Loch Garten has been closed and certainly no ospreys have used the nest there this year. Capercaillies are in very short supply there too.
Oh, ok. Thanks. I didn't know about the lack of Ospreys and Capers. I probably should have included the caveat that I haven't been for years and my info may not be up to date.

As for the centre being closed, I was assuming Gleb wasn't thinking of going this year as he mentioned going after Coronavirus.
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Old Friday 7th August 2020, 17:46   #7
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Many thanks for these insights!
For Mull I have already thought it through and even chosen a bird trip there for post-coronavirus times. I know of a tour which will enable all 2 eagles and harriers to be seen, and golden eagle has become more of the target, I'll be satisfied even if I just see it and nothing else. Hopefully these trips will enable to see the golden eagle, if they are secretive!
My closest view of a hen harrier was of a female, a magical experience last summer in Russia, quite close actually. Hopefully Mull will be good for them, especially in the summer, without any roost business. To be honest had in been in the tower hide the last time I came to Wicken Fen, I would have seen the roost from 20 meters away.
I thought about Rutland water and again it is a bit difficult to get to for me. But possible. As for Abernethy strange that there were none there. it does sound a little bleak for capercaillie as well. Unfortunately.
Closeness is not even a problem- I have this monstrous bazooka of a camera which has 63x zoom, but it is horrible at focusing onto birds. Maybe with an upgrade it will be good. Are white tailed eagles observed close there like often in Norway?
I'll hope for close views of eagles and harriers. You also make it sound that WTEs there are not wild :))
I know of a day trip on mull for 50 pounds pp which offers a chance to see all species I am interested in. Hopefully it will pay off!
Yesterday I was on a plane to Spain and was flying over the Isle of wight. Thought about how the eagles are doing there :)
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Old Saturday 8th August 2020, 23:52   #8
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Originally Posted by wolfbirder View Post
Hi

From Cambridge, surely Rutland Water would be easier for Ospreys though admittedly not too close for photography.
On the contrary, even though on the Reserve itself, the views are too distant, the Horn Mill trout farm where the Rutland Water Ospreys fish is now probably the best place outside Scotland to photograph Osprey at very close range if you don’t mind a hide fee (that compensates the fish farm for the trout eaten by the Osprey!). It is very easy indeed to get to RW by public transport. A direct train to Oakham from Cambridge (80 minutes) and a ten minute taxi ride down to the reserve from Oakham and a slow walk round the reserve to the trout farm or a taxi from Oakham straight to the fish farm (or indeed by pushbike from the train station)

https://www.rivergwashtroutfarm.co.u...l-osprey-hide/





You would not likely to be allowed to get close to WTE on Mull, wide perimeters around known sites are very strictly guarded by teams of locals and locations of eyries even closer guarded secrets so it would be hit and miss unless you arrange a tour with a local guide who would happily take you to some ‘safe’ viewing locations.
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Last edited by Deb Burhinus : Sunday 9th August 2020 at 01:40. Reason: wrong link posted
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 00:41   #9
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Originally Posted by Deb Burhinus View Post
On the contrary, even though on the Reserve itself, the views are too distant, the Horn Mill trout farm where the Rutland Water Ospreys fish is now probably the best place outside Scotland to photograph Osprey at very close range if you don’t mind a hide fee (that compensates the fish farm for the trout eaten by the Osprey!). It is very easy indeed to get to RW by public transport. A direct train to Oakham from Cambridge (80 minutes) and a ten minute taxi ride down to the reserve from Oakham and a slow walk round the reserve to the trout farm or a taxi from Oakham straight to the fish farm (or indeed by pushbike from the train station)

. https://www.photographersonsafari.co...rutland-water/

You would not likely to be allowed to get close to WTE on Mull, wide perimeters around known sites are very strictly guarded by teams of locals and locations of eyries even closer guarded secrets so it would be hit and miss unless you arrange a tour with a local guide who would happily take you to some ‘safe’ viewing locations.
Thanks for the insight. I know it is easy by train, but then there is the problem of getting to it from Oakham. There may be a bus or something-at any rate, this is interesting.
I wouldn't of course want to approach the nest! Just if possible a close encounter with a flying bird. For this reason I have already chosen a local guide tour to make sure I see the species I would like to see, preferably close. So hopefully that will not only lead to wonderful WTE images, but images of golden eagles and hen harriers as well.
Safe viewing locations is what I had in mind- do you mean from a boat or a large distance away from a golden eagle site, just enough to see them? I hope there are some for golden eagle, because this is the priority.
I was also interested in the whales cruise-do you know if they are any good. I found one at 20 pounds pp which looks very good.
Is there any specific place you would recommend staying?
I was thinking Tobermory because of the ease with everything else, but how long and how costly is a ride there from Craignure?
The most important, full day excursion around the island at 50 pp can leave from both, but it would be nice to see whales and puffins as well
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 01:16   #10
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Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
Safe viewing locations is what I had in mind- do you mean from a boat or a large distance away from a golden eagle site, just enough to see them?
‘Safe’ as in far away from a breeding site or regular fishing spot so as not to constitute a disturbance (this is decided by objective distance not a birdwatcher/photographer’s opinion of what is ‘safe’).

Just remember though, wildlife never conforms to your exact expectations and no guide will guarantee sightings of all your target species (especially on a day trip). With the eagles on Mull, much will depend on weather and visibility as well as being coincidentally in the right place at the right time even with a guide.


Quote:
I was also interested in the whales cruise-do you know if they are any good.
I have no idea, I’ve never been on a whale cruise, on the occasions I was there, I was working.

Quote:
Is there any specific place you would recommend staying?
Again, I have never visited Mull as a tourist but if you don’t have transport, Tobermory will be much better for facilities, shops etc. or arrange to go with 4 or 5 friends and hire both a car and a cottage which might be the cheapest option.
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Last edited by Deb Burhinus : Sunday 9th August 2020 at 01:18. Reason: typo
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Old Sunday 9th August 2020, 05:49   #11
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Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
.....it would be nice to see whales and puffins as well
Take a boat trip out to the Treshnish Isles, one which gives time ashore on Lunga, and you will see plenty of Puffins in the breeding season (outside the breeding season they will have gone back out to sea).

You might also see cetaceans on the trip there and back but there are also other tours operating out of Tobermory which tend to be a bit more focused on cetacean spotting.
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Old Tuesday 11th August 2020, 14:00   #12
Gleb Berloff
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Thank you!
Yeah I was thinking Tobermory in the summer too- and if a day trip departs from there golden eagle shouldn't be a problem, wherever it may be.
That's great about the puffins, I would love to see them too.
That's what I meant by safe. Safe for the birds. But given the spectacular views of flying birds, I was just hoping to get pictures of them in flight, all 2 eagles and the hen harrier, not sitting at the nest!
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