June 2010

Dick Beales has kindly shared some of his photos taken whilst staying at Toechtamhor cottage this month. They can bee seen in the guest photo galleries in the right column or here.
If you see any rare or interesting plants on Mull please contact the county recorder here.

On the 30th a Swift flew around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. There were 2 Red-throated Divers at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary and a Rock Pipit trying to feed a recently fledged young on this side of Lainne Sgeir. I counted 5 female Eiders with 13 ducklings near Calgary beach.
Ingrid & Volker Carstens saw an Adder before the first gate between Treshnish and Haunn cottages.
There was a Red Admiral on Calgary beach machair (NM3750).
I went looking for Frog Orchid which used to occur at Calgary but I failed to find it. Field Madder, Hairy Rock-cress (needs checking), Harebell and Biting Stonecrop were flowering on Calgary beach machair where there were also a few patches of Lesser Meadow-rue but none of it flowering. Hemp-agrimony and Hedge Woundwort were flowering nearby (NM3751).
On the 29th there was a Golden Eagle over the common Gull colony and a beautiful male Lesser Redpoll in Treshnish wood was showing a fantastically red breast now the feathers are worn.
Malcolm Ward and family saw 6 Basking Sharks just outside the mouth of Calgary bay, the largest was huge and was there for around 2 hours (photos taken).
I found a lot of Common Cow-wheat on the Ensay side of Ensay Burn. There is only one small patch that I know of on Treshnish. The Common Twayblades in the wood are massive this year.
Tutsan was flowering along Ensay Burn wood.
On the 28th the Treshnish Corncrake was calling at 11pm below Treshnish House. Lesser Redpoll were around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
I saw my first Highland Darter of the year near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse as well as a Golden-ringed Dragonfly. Highland darter is no longer recognised as a separate species and from now on I will refer to it as Common Darter.
At night it was a good for moth-trapping. Although I only caught 28 species one, as far as I know, was new for Mull; Archer's Dart.

Some others were good records for me include:
Common Footman (only one previous record and as far as I know the only records for Mull),

Marbled Coronet (4 records),

Rivulet (4 records),

Garden Tiger is always nice,

and so is a Beautiful Golden Y.

It would be fantastic if the camera could capture the true vivid colour of this Large Emerald.

The Treshnish Broad-leaved Helleborine does not have flowers. I went looking for Narrow-leaved Helleborine at nearby site which looked like the right habitat but instead I found 2 vegetative plants of Broad-leaved Helleborine which were about 50m apart. Although Broad-leaved Helleborine is not nationally scarce it is very rare on Mull and I cannot reveal the location on the internet.
Broad-leaved Willowherb was flowering in Treshnish wood and Red Bartsia is flowering below Treshnish House
On the 27th a day I spent in the Knockvologan-Ardalanish area with Lynne Farrell, the Mull and Coll plant recorder. We were dive bombed by a female Hen Harrier, which obviously had a nest very close by.

We also disturbed 2 Adders on the path.
The best butterflies we saw were many Graylings and Large Heaths, the latter are quite local on Mull. It can be found on Ensay only a few hundred yards from the road but so far I have not found it on Treshnish farm!
We also saw, both the male and the more orange female, Clouded Buff moths,

and my first definite Argent and Sable (at least 3) although this confirms my records on the 7th. Excuse the bad photos of this Nationally Scarce moth, I will have to go back and spend some time getting a good photograph.

There were many male Keeled Skimmers, this is a female,

possible Black Darters, Golden-ringed Dragonflies, a Common Hawker (my first of the year), and a Large Red Damselfly. Anyone who is thinking of trying to identify dragonflies could take heart from the fact that there are not many species to grapple with. There are only 15 species on the Mull list and of those 4 are uncommon to rare: Brown Hawker (one record from Treshnish Isles), Southern Hawker (2 records both from Croggan), Northern Emerald (2 records - 1 from Croggan and 1 from Aros), Emerald Damselfly (13 records) plus another species Azure Hawker from Morvern (1 record). The bad news is that the immatures and females are tricky and you probably need a camera that takes good close up photos. The British Dragonfly Society website has a good identification section.
We also re-visited the plant thought to be a Pyramidal Bugle. It appears to not have one important features of a true Pyramidal (round v square stem). It may be a hybrid but we wait for a further expert opinion. This photo shows the non rounded stem.

Most plants were dying but this was a fresh plant.

We found a new plant for me (and a rare one for Mull) at Ardalanish; a Burnet-saxifrage.

The leaves shown below separate it from the more common Wild Carrot.

Other interesting plants of the day included this large Thyme Broomrape,

Frog Orchid,


and Biting Stonecrop.

Other plants flowering included, Sea Carrot, Sea Rocket, Lesser Meadow-rue, Ray's Knotgrass and Fragrant Agrimony. Harebell was flowering at Pennyghail. Corn Spurrey was flowering at Knockvologan [or Ardalanish].
Malcolm Ward saw 2 Swifts flying east-west together at 21.00 over Haunn.
On the 26th there were about 12 Swifts flying south-west over Haunn cottages with another possible earlier in the morning over Treshnish wood. Swifts are uncommon on Mull but I usually have one or two sighting per year. The nearest breeding site I know of is in Oban. The Haunn Corncrake was calling in the day in lower down from the cottages in the meadow. There are nests with young of both House Sparrow and Starling in Treshnish cow-barn, a nest with young Swallows in the shed beside Middle cottage, Haunn and Pied Wagtail fledglings were flushed from their nest in the fuchsia bush beside Middle cottage.
Meg and Stephen Davies have reported seeing Great Skuas perched at Caliach Point over the last two years. Now according to Mullbirds breeding has been confirmed there for the second year running.
Common Figwort was flowering by Haunn cottages.
On the 25th the Haunn Corncrake was calling from low down in Haunn field and after sunset the Treshnish Corncrake was calling from the usual place in meadows below Treshnish House. There were 2 Siskins in the Haunn field.
There was a huge Basking Shark below Treshnish house.
I went looking for Marsh Fritillary just past Haunn as some of our guests reported seeing it there. I failed to find it but found an adult male Keeled Skimmer (NM33784788).

This is my first adult of this species so a good find. There was also a Large Red Damselfly here and 1 Four-spotted Chaser below Haunn cottages.
There were a at least 12 Six-spot-Burnet moths (NM3347) and at least 50 Common Blues.

Common Centaury and Square-stalked St John's-wort were flowering at Treshnish Point (NM3347), Purple-loosestrife was in bud below Haunn cottages and Wood Sage was flowering near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 24th there was a male Hen Harrier low down over the farm road between Treshnish and Haunn cottages (SC&MC). The Haunn Corncrake was moving around a lot during the day and was heard below the black-houses and further east near the corner of Haunn field. The Treshnish Corncrake was heard near the stream directly below Treshnish House. 4 Greylag Geese flew west over Haunn and later another flew in the same direction. 27 Rock Doves flew west over Treshnish wood.
A Basking Shark was off Ensay Burn mouth.
During the day a Poplar Hawk-moth was resting in Toechtamhor cottage garden.

Marsh Arrowgrass was flowering at Treshnish Point (NM3347) and Pyrenean Lily was flowering in Toechtamhor cottage garden.
On the 23rd there was a Collared Dove in Treshnish House garden. Near sunset guests at Duill heard the Treshnish Corncrake in the usual place near the top gate joining the two meadows below Treshnish House but around midnight guest at the studio heard it beside Treshnish vegetable garden.
Whilst out walking with Tom Prescott, Alan Skeates and the Charringtons we saw a day flying Cinnabar moth.

This is only my second record of this stunning moth at Treshnish, the first coming to the light-trap in May 2007!
On the 22nd there were a pair of Bullfinches at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse! That counts as a probable breeding record. A Common Gull nest with 1 egg

was found at Treshnish lochan and a couple of other nests were found which looked like they had been predated. There was also a female Mallard with 1 nearly full grown chick at Treshnish lochan.
At Reudle (NM34S) there were newly fledged Wrens and a Willow Warbler with food for young, Twite and singing Rock Dove at Lòn Reudle.
There were at least 10 Meadow Brown butterflies at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and one pair were flying around still mating.
There were at least 8 Four-spotted Chaser dragonflies and 2 Common Blue Damselflies

at Treshnish Lochan and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly beside Treshnish wood.
Bloody Crane's-bill was flowering at Lòn Reudle
21st. Round Midnight on Litha.

On the 21st a Golden Eagle was over Ensay farmhouse, there were about 20 Sand Martins near Ensay Burn cattle-grid, Siskins were in Treshnish wood with 1 showing well by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and Lesser Redpoll were heard over Treshnish wood. Newly fledged young of Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Robin and Pied Wagtail were near Ensay Burn cattle-grid. A Red-throated Diver was to the west of Lainne, Sgeir, Calgary bay.
There was a Mountain Hare in Treshnish Old Schoolhouse garden in the morning, a presumed Bottle-nosed Dolphin off from Caliach Point and what looked like a Porpoise off from Treshnish boathouse whilst there was a Basking Shark in Calgary bay with another off Rubh na Oirean. All within about 20 minutes sea-watching.
My first definite Meadow Brown butterfly was seen today by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and there were good dragonfly numbers along Treshnish wood edge and above Ensay Burn cattle-grid, with Golden-ringed Dragonfly (4+), Four-spotted Chaser (3),Blue-tailed Damselfly (4+),

and Large Red Damselfly (10+),

many coupled for mating. This pair have mated and the male stayed connected whilst she lays eggs in the pool. This way he guarantees the eggs he fertilised get laid.

This Knot Grass moth on lichen was much more camouflaged than this photograph shows,
on a Hazel which also had Hazel Gloves fungus (not shown).
Common Valerian, Common Ragwort, Common Cow-wheat were flowering along Treshnish wood edge and Marsh Arrowgrass
was flowering on Ensay just up from the Treshnish cattle-grid.
On the 20th a Grasshopper Warbler was heard at Bennan, Calgary.
Ingrid & Volker Carstens saw a male Merlin above Shian [I am almost sure they also mentioned seeing a female during their 3 week stay]
1 White-tailed Eagle near hide along rd between Gribun and Loch Scridain
I saw that one of our two Narrow-leaved Helleborines is setting seed!
At first I though this remarkable since only one of them flowered properly. The other unopened plant was partly eaten, the flowers drooped and after a few days the flowers fell off. Narrow-leaved Helleborine is apparently not capable of self pollinating, but this does not mean that it cannot pollinate from one flower to another on the same plant. But still, it is unusual that plants from such a small population can produce seed.
There were at least 270 Early Marsh-orchids at Bennan, Calgary and Bog Asphodel, Marsh Cinquefoil and Cross-leaved Heath were flowering there.
On the 19th old 'white head' the local male Golden Eagle was low over Toechtamhor cottage and half an hour later over the Common Gull colony and then seen making a strike by Ensay Burn cattle-grid, presumably a rabbit, which escaped. In the evening we saw a Golden Eagle fly passed our window several times. A male Lesser Redpoll was showing well at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
Between 5-19th Graham Hutchinson and Angie Craft noted Swallows nesting in the eaves of East cottage, Wheatears nesting near a rock and also in a wall nearby, Wrens and Song Thrush nesting in the fuchsia by East cottage, Pied Wagtail nesting in the garden wall, Common Sandpiper adult with juvenile on the headland as well as Reed Bunting, Linnet and Twite at Haunn and a pair of Golden Eagles flying over Haunn and also 1 perched behind the cottages.
There was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
On the 18th there were a pair of Golden Eagles above the Common Gull colony at Treshnish lochan and later Graham Hutchinson and Angie Craft saw 4 from the Ensay-Reudle road. Later still a male was over Treshnish wood and the Ensay-Reudle road.

Ingrid & Volker Carstens saw a Golden Eagle with a prey item, thought to be a hare, swinging from its talons, flying from Treshnish Point towards Haunn.
A Mountain Hare was in our garden at nightfall (and also 3 mornings ago and so often I forget to record it). There was also a young Red Deer stag just outside our garden. Oh dear (unintentional pun)!
This Four-spotted Chaser near Glac Gugairidh was easy to photograph at dusk (photo taken at 10.30pm!).
There was also a pair of Golden-ringed Dragonflies mating in flight at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. This Golden-ringed Dragonfly above Glac Gugairidh
was surrounded by 14 Lesser Twayblades but again I failed to get the tiny flower in focus. You can just see a pair of vegetative leaves to the right of its right wing.
A dark butterfly at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse may have been the years first Meadow Brown and 2 large orange moths near Glac Gugairidh were probably adult Drinkers there was also this Northern Eggar caterpillar near Glac Gugairidh.

On the 17th there were 2 Red-throated Divers at Ensay Burn mouth and at least 1 Basking Shark off of Treshnish boathouse. Guests reported 4-5 from the north shore and Graham Hutchinson and Angie Craft reported 5-10 on the west shore. This is a bumper years for this species!
On the 16th I found out that the nearest Golden Eagle nest to Treshnish farm has a chick! This is fantastic news because there has been no confirmed breeding success from this eyrie since 2000! I had given up on this pair as the male appears to be very old (pale plumage) but he still has it in him or he has died and she has a new mate. The second nearest pair are young birds that only started breeding in 2006. In that year the nest collapsed and last year they were disturbed but otherwise they had a chick in 2007, 2008 and also this year. So this year will certainly up the statistics for our area.
Ingrid & Volker Carstens reported a Peregrine and Lapwing between Torloisk and Dervaig.
The Treshnish Corncrake was heard below Treshnish House (SC) and today I was also sent some photos of the Haunn Corncrake taken by Clive Fletcher.
2 Basking Sharks were very close in at Port Haunnand there were at least another 7 (probably 10) between Port Haunn and Lòn Reudle. There was also an Otter at Port Haunn.
I found this moth on Yellow Rattle in the Black Park field, which is a new species for Treshnish, Grass Rivulet.
The second site for Small-white Orchidat Treshnish held 5 plants (I only saw 3 last year) and I also found the nearby Frog Orchid (2 last year but I did not look for long so it is probably there too). Fairy Flax was flowering at Haunn.
I have been trying to figure out why other botanists working on the new Mull flora had been finding Early Marsh-orchid at Treshnish whilst I was not been finding it. I was thinking that I must be missing a subspecies because the ones I found elsewhere were a lovely unmistakable rosy colour and I certainly have looked hard for those. This has turned out to be the case. Before the descent on the Reudle Schoolhouse-Crackaig path there is a wet boggy area with boards for crossing and a sign to keep walkers on the right path. Here I found at least 20 Early Marsh-orchidswhich were more purple than those I has seen before and which at first glance looked very much like the more common Northern Marsh-orchid. These are presumably the subspecies pulchella and those I have seen before at Langamull, Lochan Dearg and to the east of Loch an Torr were the more rosy coloured subspecies incarnata.
Bog Pondweed was flowering on near Reudle Schoolhouse bog.
On the 15th the first House Martin nest at Treshnish is nearly completed! Excuse the poor photo, it is a dark corner, but we just have to show it off.
The Haunn Corncrake was calling during the day and seemed to be a little lower down in Haunn field. 3 Curlews were very vocal around Treshnish lochan and behind the cow-barn (perhaps they are having to relay). The Twite were very vocal along the Haunn coast and 'spot the Twite' in Haunn meadow.Young Kestrels were heard on the cliffs just beyond Port Haunn (nest? not located) and one Kestrel was seen at Lòn Reudle. A Great Skua flew north above the upper cliffs at Port Haunn.
There was an Otter at Lòn Reudle (this is a very good spot for it ) and Graham Hutchinson and Angie Craft, guests at East cottage, Haunn saw a Bottle-nosed Dolphin off of Dùn Haunn.
A Red Admiral was again on our chives and this Drinker mothwas found south of Port Haunn (NM3446). I don't think I have seen an adult out in the daylight before. Presumably it is newly emerged.
I got very excited at this strange looking orchid at Haunn. Without a book I thought it could be Coralroot Orchid. Expert opinion is that it is probably an aborted Greater Butterfly-orchid.Oh well there has to be a limit to the number of orchids at Treshnish. On the way back home across the moorland, I was looking for Lesser Twayblade which I thought must be on the farm somewhere. It was all a question of finding rank heather. The problem is that the heather has not fully recovered from a fire over 20 years ago. As I was bashing though an old path through a good patch of heather, I thought, ah ah this looks good. Got down on my hands and knees on the sphagnum carpeted path floor and after crawling along a couple of metres found 3 plants, one of which was a a big flowering beauty all of 4 inches tall! To dark for a photo other than a token shot. That brings the number of orchid species at Treshnish up to 14 (not including subspecies and hybrids)!
Frog Orchidwas flowering at Haunn, Enchanter's-nightshade, Selfheal and Slender St. John's-wort were flowering along the farm-track beside Treshnish wood, possible Zigzag Clover was flowering beside Treshnish House, Golden-rod was flowering at the 'Whisky Cave' and this Bloody Crane's-billwas out of reach of the sheep on the path from Port Haunn to the Whisky Cave'. Wood Bitter-vetch is a nationally scarce vetch which is common at Treshnish.The dry weather has taken its toll on this plant which likes thin soil and is therefore vulnerable to drought.

On the 14th Carolyne Charrington saw the Corncrake beside the gate at East cottage, Haunn. There was a Spotted Flycatcher in Treshnish house garden and Siskins were very vocal in Treshnish wood and Treshnish House. There was a Redshank at Ensay Burn mouth.
There were many butterflies on our chives, including a Red Admiral,Small Tortoiseshell (my first definite of the year) and both Dark Green and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries which was great to see them side by side for comparison. I also added a new micro-moth to the Treshnish list. This is not a very good photo of Pyrausta cingulata,found near Ensay Burn mouth.
There were 2 Golden-ringed Dragonflies along the farm-road beside Treshnish wood as well 2 Large Red Damselflies and an immature Keeled Skimmer.This is my first definite record of this species and a new dragonfly for the Treshnish list. At the shore below Treshnish House there were 3 Blue-tailed Damselflies.
The Davies's watched 2 Otters playing and play-fighting and fishing on the south side of Calgary bay, to the east of Lainne Sgeir. This year I always recommend this area to visitors and most guests succeed in seeing them here (either side of Lainne Sgeir and to the beach).
I found the Broad-leaved Helleborine emerging in Treshnish wood.This is not rare in England but very rare on Mull. There is only plant at Treshnish but I have hopes that the first one I found is in a slightly different location, in which case there could be two. Fingers crossed.
Common Spotted-orchid and hybrids (probably Northern Marsh x Common Spotted-orchid), Lesser Spearwort, Hemlock Water-dropwort, English Stonecrop, Sea Plantain were flowering along the shore below Treshnish House, Tufted Vetch was flowering in meadows below Treshnish House, Sanicle was flowering in Treshnish wood, Common Valerian, Melancholy Thistle, Meadowsweet were about to flower at Ensay Burn mouth and Honeysuckle was about to flower beside Treshnish wood farm-track.
The dry weather has not been good for the Thyme Broomrape. I found 6 fresh plants (4 last year) but 5 of them have hardly grown in a fortnight and the other is small. I did however find an old plant from last year which I must have missed and next to it was a stem which looks like it is from the previous year but there was no new emerging plant for this year as far as I could see.
I received an e-mail from Joe Tanner who stayed at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn on 22-29 of May. He has taken some good photos all from the cottage, except the eagles which were taken at Loch na Keal. You can see his photos here.
On the 13th there was a Golden Eagle over the Common Gull colony at Treshnish lochan and an hour later possibly the same flying west over Treshnish wood. Graham Hutchinson and Angie Craft, guests at East cottage, Haunn saw recently fledged Robins near the small stream running down to Treshnish Point.
Hogweed was flowering at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse
Today I received a photo of one of the Wheatear chicks from the nest near Toechtamhor gate taken on the 28th of May by Lindsay and Simon Crisp.At least one used to sit outside the nest-hole presumably to get warm and to get the first food from mum and dad.
I finally got around to transcribing the Haunn Corncrake notes of Clive Fletcher, a guest at East cottage, Haunn (sorry to take so long Clive). These notes are particularly interesting because I was reading the latest data on Corncrakes and found out that they do call differently as breeding progresses. The most notable change is in the period after mating and before laying when for 3 days (sometimes 5 days) when the male and female have close contact, the day-time calling of the male increases to its maximum and its night time calling becomes very little or even not at all. If any guests noted nights when there was little or no calling please contact me here. Apparently there is also a period before this when the un-mated male has established its territory and when the day time calling is rare. This implies that if a bird is calling regularly during the day then it is newly arrived or has mated. The Haunn male has been seen with a mate so it is obviously attempting to breed and the Treshnish bird is calling regularly in the daytime and has been present for 4 weeks so is certainly not newly arrived. Presumably this means both birds have mated.

From Clive Fletcher's notes
26th May
Field opposite Toechtamhor cottage: 8am calling and calling progressively throughout the morning until 12.00 noon
Alongside track just to east of east cottage: calling 4.30pm
Garden in front of East cottage (nettles in front of 7th fence post from the gate in the rough grass area): I watched this area for 20 minutes with the bird calling loudly. The bird then came into view walking, unconcerned from the nettles into the long grass. I was able to take 4/5 'shots' as the bird walked casually in the grassy area. Bird then returned to nettles & continued calling throughout the evening. Bird still calling at 4.00am on morning of 27th.

27th May
Field in front of Blackhouse cottages: calling 8.30-8.45
Garden in front of East cottage: calling at 9.30am
Stream edge close to gate by East cottage: calling 6.30/7.00pm & at 11.30pm

28th May
East cottage garden: calling at 4.30am, still calling at 8.30am and calling at 7.30pm & 9.00pm

29th May
Mound in front of East cottage: no calls this am. until 9.20am when after the first calls, bird appeared to be making a strange 'croaking' sound (not heard before by Clive - pers.comm.)
Left at 10.00am

I have also noticed a a quiet, hard to describe squeeking or weezing sound before the typical krek - krek call. It can only be heard when the bird is not in full 'chorus'. I heard it on the first evening on the 14th of May and also yesterday before it started preening. Presumably this is a contact call.

On the 12th the Haunn Corncrake was seen bathing and preening beside the tiny stream at East cottage. It was also calling often during the day. The Hutchinsons noticed another Wheatear nest between Toechtamhor
and East cottage, the chicks of which fledged yesterday.
Ingrid and Volker, guests at the Studio, saw 4 or 5 Basking Sharks off from the shore below Treshnish House and on every day afterwards on their 3 week stay.
Dark Green Fritillaries were seen at Haunn (1) and Black Park field (2) and Common Blue was also seen at Black Park (1) and at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse (1). These butterflies should, from now on, be common and so I will not mention them until later on in the season.
Golden-ringed Dragonfly was also seen in Black Park field.
Small-white Orchid was flowering in usual spot at Toechtamhor cottage, Yarrow, Hogweed and Stone Bramble were flowering beside Treshnish wood, Yellow Rattle was flowering at Haunn and below Treshnish House and Foxglove was flowering at Haunn.
On the 11th a Peregrine flew west over Treshnish wood and just as I type a Golden Eagle flew low over Treshnish wood. Half an hour later I saw a Golden eagle diving towards the Common Gull colony and bring down its talons for an attack. Three seconds later and it was back up carrying a Common Gull chick. About ten minutes later another was seen from the Studio sky-light, which is a good place to see Golden Eagles! Then in the evening the pair sailed passed our window and and towards dusk the pair again cruised passed our window with the female carrying a prey item. Hopefully a rabbit this time! I think it is safe to say 'they're back'.
The Treshnish Corncrake was calling during the day and the Treshnish House Martins are doing well with the second nest attempt. Hopefully the cement I put to rough up the surface of the latex paint has worked. Carolyne got a better shot when they first started building.
I did a bit of research on Corncrakes since they are obviously attempting to breed. The clutch size is usually 8-12 (but can be 6-14). The incubation period is 16-19 days (female only) and the fledging period is 34-38 days. If our birds laid eggs about now it would still not be until the beginning of August that the young would be able to fly but the chicks would be able to feed on about the 3rd of July and independent of the mother on about the 13th of July.
The Haunn male was first heard on the 13th of May and the Treshnish male was first heard on the 16th of May. Males start calling a few days after arrival. Even if it mated immediately it would take a few days before egg laying but more likely it would have taken a few days first to attract a mate and then to mate. The most recent literature I have read stated that they were polygamous but earlier texts state that they are usually monogamous and the males only rarely mate with more that one female. If undisturbed they usually have two broods. Chicks leave the nest 1 or 2 days after hatching and feed for themselves after 3-5 days although after this the mother shows them food and provides warmth until 12-16 days after hatching. The chicks are totally independent on average, 12 days after hatching for first broods and after 17 days for second broods.
The second brood is laid on average 12 days after leaving the first brood. If a nest is lost just after incubation was started then a second clutch is laid after 3-5 days.
Ingrid & Volker Carstens reported seeing a pair of Golden Eagles over Treshnish farm and later on and off throughout their 3 week stay.
I was looking through my notes to see when we first see Basking Sharks: in 2006 it was on the 3rd of June; in 2007 it was on the 8th of June; in 2008 it was on the 13th of May; in 2009 it was on 13th of July (very late) and this year it was on the 5th of June.
Lady's Bedstraw was flowering beside Treshnish wood, Pineappleweed is near flowering and Shepherd's-purse is flowering and fruiting at Treshnish House and Foxglove is flowering at Haunn.
On the 10th the Haunn Corncrake was calling outside Middle and East cottages. There were also 2 Twite at Haunn. The House Martins are continuing with their nest. Better photos to follow but for now this one shows a little help from cement.Graham Hutchinson and Angie Craft, guests at East cottage saw a female pheasant with chicks just below their cottage. The Davies's saw a Basking Shark at Port Haunn and another from below Crackaig. There were single large orange fritillary beyond Haunn and in Black Park field which I presume were Dark Green Fritillary, which would be my first of the year. There was also a Peacock butterfly just west of the cow-barn.
Today and yesterday the Small Adder's-tongue was fruiting at Haunn.
On the 9th I heard that the Treshnish House Martin nest was found collapsed on the morning of the 7th. I will see if I can do something to help it stick better. 1 sometimes 2 Golden Eagles were above the Common Gull colony at Treshnish lochan disturbing the Common Gulls, Curlews, Hooded Crows and Snipe. In the evening the Haunn Corncrake was calling. There were Fulmars around Treshnish point.
The Davies's guests at Duill cottage saw 3 Basking Sharks below Treshnish House.
I just found out that one of the plants I found in the Knockvologan area on the 7th is Pyramidal Bugle, a rarity (see that day for photo and details). The 2 Frog Orchids is out and Yellow Rattle is flowering at Toechtamhor cottage, Haunn.
On the 8th the Treshnish Corncrake was calling (Carolyne Charrington). There were 4 Basking Sharks at Glengorm and I managed to show Leena a Marsh Fritillary despite the rain and clouds.I just heard today that this a new site for this rare butterfly. I also saw my first Common Blue of the year there and even managed to find my GPS recorder I had lost there.
On the 7th there was 1 Golden Eagle above Treshnish lochan. This is the first sighting near our house for a couple of months but to be expected as they have been close to their breeding sites. The eagle disturbed Curlews along with the Common Gulls showing that the Curlews are breeding there. The Davies's saw that the Duill Wheatears have fledged today.
I spent the day in the Knockvologan area where there was a Great Skua (over land), Lesser Repolls and Siskins.
There was a good selection of dragonflies, including: Four-spotted Chaser (4 at NM3219), Golden-ringed Dragonfly (5 at NM3219, 1 at NM3317), Highland Darter (4 at NM3318, 2 at NM3317), Large Red Damselfly (2 at NM3317) and possible Common Hawkers (1 at NM3318, 1 at NM3317, 1 at NM3548) but no sign of the Beautiful Demoiselle of last year.
There were a few Clouded Buff moths.I have only seen this in the daytime at Quinish although I have also caught it 3 times in the light-trap at Treshnish. I also saw what I am sure must have been the rare Argent and Sable. I only saw it in flight but it was very distinctive (later confirmed). That is a new moth for me. There was also a Green Hairstreak butterfly. Green Hairstreaks have finished flying at Treshnish nearly two weeks ago and yet they only live for about two weeks so it seems that different locations have different flying seasons.
With help I finally found the Spring Squill there.Most of it has already gone to seed.
I also found Pyramidal Bugle Ajuga pyramidalisa rare plant, especially on Mull where I think there is only one other record for Mull, also on the Ross.
Most of the Thyme Broomrape has not emerged but there were a few plants.Bogbean and Bell Heather were flowering and Wild Strawberry was floweringand fruiting.
Common Cow-wheat was flowering at the same place as last year at Tireragan.
On the way back from the Ross I saw an Otter whilst driving along between Kellan Mill and Killiemor, Loch na Keal. This must be good spot because I saw Discover Mull tours were watching one here on the 30th of May
On the 6th at Glengorm there were 2 male (possibly newly) fledged Bullfinches, at least 25 Ravens and a Common Sandpiper was disturbed off a nest.
2 (possibly 3) Basking Sharks close to shore. Bats were seen emerging from the walls of the underpass beside the café and hunting there.
At Glengorm I found my first Marsh Fritillary butterflies (2+), one of the rarest butterflies of Mull.
There were also 2 Speckled Yellow moths, 1 Garden Tiger caterpillar and a 1 Four-spotted Chaser dragonfly was also seen at Glengorm.
Bloody Cranesbill, Common Valerian, Ground Ivy, Creeping Thistle, Greater Stitchwort, Red Clover and Hawthorn were flowering at Glengorm (the latter was seen flowering at least 3 days ago probably at Treshnish). Ground Ivy is uncommon on Mull, there is one patch in Treshnish wood somewhere near the farm-track but I have forgotten the exact location. Wood Sage is getting ready to flower.
On the 5th the Haunn Corncrake was very quiet during the day, now he has a mate and the Treshnish male was calling well in the evening.
At least 3 Twite were at Haunn and Lesser Redpoll were heard between Treshnish and Haunn cottages. There were recently fledged Wheatears at Toechtamhor cottage which are presumably from the nest there.
The Treshnish House Martin nest is coming along fine. There were 3 Collared Doves at the Treshnish House bird-feeders and the Duill Wheatears are still being fed in the nest. A Coal Tit was seen feeding recently fledged young beside Treshnish wood.
In the evening a pod of at least 8 Dolphins, presumably Bottle-nosed were off Ensay Burn mouth and the boathouse and there was also 1 Basking Shark off Ensay Burn mouth (my first of the year). In the morning the Ungless family, guests at East cottage, Haunn saw 3 nearer Calgary and Kathy got this shot.
There were 2 Peacock butterflies just past the cow-barn. That spot doesn't seem to have many flowers but there are almost always butterflies there. At night about 40 species of macro-moth came to the light-trap. The best were Sallow Kitten (my third and none last year), Marbled Coronet (my fifth and none last year) and Spruce Carpet (my third).
On the 4th the House Martins were still building their nest and so far it is sticking. Although they have not taken to the nest boxes that have chosen a perfect spot, just under the small roof of some large sliding doors. I looked through my old notes. The pair that tried to build a nest in exactly the same spot in 2008, started building on June 5th although in that year they first started at Shian cottage and when the nest collapsed moved up to try under the sliding doors. It may well be the same pair.
The Treshnish Corncrake was calling at dusk. The Duill Wheatears are still not fledged.
Common Cow-wheat is just about to flower by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse, Ragged Robin and Creeping Buttercup are flowering on Ensay near the Treshnish-Ensay cattle-grid and Meadow Vetchling and Oxeye Daisy are flowering beside Treshnish wood.
On the 3rd both male Corncrakes were calling at night. A pair of House Martins were building a nest on the farm building right next to the 5-star accommodation nest boxes! They tried to nest in 2008 but the nest kept collapsing as the fresh latex paint gave no grip. I tried putting a blob of cement on the spot but it was too late they were gone. Now the same blob is in place and they have built on top of it. It has since been painted over but hopefully the lump will give some support. Fingers crossed. This would be the first known breeding at Treshnish although they breed at Tostary.
I am pretty sure the Toechtamhor cottage Wheatears at Haunn have fledged although I did not spend long looking.
There were a pair of Large Red Damselfly by Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and a Peacock butterfly at Toechtamhor cottage.
On the 2nd very exciting news. Guests in Middle cottage, Haunn saw 2 Corncrakes together on the mound outside their cottage! They were also heard calling at night. It really looks like we have a breeding pair. The Treshnish bird was also heard.
I went to Gormengast (in the real world known as Glengorm)to twitch for Spring Squill. This is turning out to be my bogey plant. It should be easy to find; pale blue, like a bluebell but without the trumpet shape. Maybe I am just to early.
As soon as I got there I was confronted with this guy.It looks like a Blackbird fledgling but it was so noisy I am a bit uncertain. Don't see what else it could be but will check more books later.
I tried digi-scoping a Rock Pipit. It didn't turn out so bad. It was about 30m away.
I love Ravens but even I was shocked to see 30 together!There were also Siskins and Greenfinches around the castle.
There was a female Mallard with 7 chicks at Dervaig and 2 House Martins hawking insects with the Sand Martins over the rocks at Calgary beach.
The highlight of the day was a new moth for me, Speckled Yellow.There were many around the cliffs at Glengorm. It is not the first for Mull but does not appear to be at Treshnish. Its food-plant is Wood Sage which we have in abundance so perhaps I have just been assuming that all yellow day-flying moths are Yellow Shell! Something new to look out for.
There was a Red Admiral at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.
There was 1 Four-spotted Chaser at Glengorm castle and a Large Red Damselfly near the cliffs.
I tried getting another Lesser Twayblade photo but none came out well. It is very easy to find. At the Tobermory side of the Mishnish dam, I walked up to the largest heather bush. There was really only one big enough to give shade. Parted it and looked on the moss, bingo. One flowering and 2 vegetative. Will try again later. Although I failed to find Spring Squill I did find a beautiful patch of at least 25 Wood Bitter-vetch Vicia orobus on the steep slopes of a coastal ravine. Burnet Rose and a very small Wild Angelica were flowering, Melancholy Thistle was in bud and there were several of last years plants of Carline Thistle.
On the 1st both the Corncrakes were calling in the daytime. The Haunn bird was calling from Toechtamhor cottage garden again. The Curlews near Treshnish lochan appear to be still holding territory. A Spotted Flycatcher and at dusk a Tawny Owl (sitting on the deer fence near the chicken hutches) were at Treshnish House. There were 2 Greylag Geese below Treshnish House and as usual Lesser Redpoll were flying between the boathouse and Treshnish wood. The female adult Wheatear took food to the nest outside Duill living room window.
There was a Jackdaw at Calgary and a dark phase Arctic Skua and Great Skua at Caliach Point (Arthur Brown on Mullbirds). Jackdaw is rare in North Mull. I have never seen a Jackdaw on Mull! The last record I know of for North Mull is from 2003 when a pair nested in Dervaig churchtower. The previous detailed record was of 8 on Calgary beach on 1st April 1982. The last breeding atlas, covering 1998-1991, showed it in our 10x10km square which includes Gometra and the western islets of the Treshnish Isles but this was a casual sighting with no proof of breeding. The atlas also shows the same for the Mishnish-Dervaig and Salen 10x10 squares. The wintering Altas, covering 1981-1984, shows it in the Dervaig-Mishnish square and the one to the south (Ballygown).
There was 1 Red Admiral and 1 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, both butterflies, near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. This fritillary is common now and so I will not mention it until later on in the season.
The Mountain Hare was in our garden again. Leena says it is there every morning. Chicken netting becoming a priority job!