“ Address: Pennyghael / Isle of Mull / PA70 6HB / Scotland „
The Isle of Mull is a very special place, with some of the most stunning, dramatic scenery in the British Isles. It's also home to some amazing animals and birds, so is a must visit place for many people.
My girlfriend and I visited Mull last year to try to get close to such spectacular wildlife as otters and golden eagles. That we succeeded was mainly due to us signing up for a day's wildlife tour.
There are several wildlife tour operators on Mull, but the one we chose was "Wild About Mull" (www.wildaboutmull.co.uk) run by Bryan Rains and based on the Ross of Mull (the Southwest corner of the island).
The idea behind the wildlife tour day is simple. Tourists are carried around the island in a comfortable minibus (no driving, yay!) to areas where the expert guide knows the birds and animals can be found. The expectation being that the guide can find and get closer to the wildlife than the visitor who's new to the area.
Wild About Mull is based at Pennyghael on the A849, approximately 19 miles from the ferry port of Craignure, so is easy to find. Don't, however, underestimate how long it takes to drive anywhere on Mull, even the 'A' roads are narrow and slow (average speed seems to be about 20-30 miles per hour).
Bryan operates a reasonably sized minibus so can take up to eight passengers on the wildlife tour. Tours start at 10:00 am at Pennyghael (although other pick-ups on the Ross of Mull can be arranged).
Mull is absolutely fantastic for wildlife, with a wide range of animals and birds that are rare or difficult to see elsewhere. The superb scenery also means that the wildlife is viewed against a beautiful backdrop of crystal clear sea and dramatic mountains.
Bryan started our tour by asking us what we wanted to see. We chose otters (obviously!), golden and white-tailed eagles, hen harrier, deer, mountain hare, and seals. Bryan then chose a route that gave us the best chance of seeing the things we wanted to see.
Within 15 minutes, we were watching a female otter with a nearly grown cub from quite a close distance (the minibus makes a great hide) and seeing the tender way the mother looked after her baby was really lovely. We spent quite a while watching these until we had to tear ourselves away.
I was really keen to see a white-tailed eagle, so this was made our next stop. Bryan was able to take us straight to where a pair of eagles were nesting. Viewing from a safe distance to avoid disturbing the birds, we had to use Bryan's telescope to get really good views, but get good views we did. This spectacular eagle has an eight foot wingspan and is known as the 'flying barn door' because of its broad square wings. Seeing the fourth largest eagle in the world in the stunning Mull scenery was really special and made the day for me on its own.
Lunch is provided on the tour and at lunchtime, we were taken to a spectacular 'dining area' which was a clearing at the side of a waterfall, half way up a large hill. The views of the surrounding hills and the waterfall were breathtaking, but the best was yet to come. As we were eating our lunch, we were treated to the sight of a pair of golden eagles soaring a couple of hundred feet above our head. Unknown to us, we'd been taken to a prime eagle watch site. What a great lunch!
The afternoon was spent at coastal sites where we saw both species of seal as well as lots of seabirds (including puffins!).Red deer seemed to be everywhere and we were (again using the minibus as a hide) able to get really close to these impressive animals.
To walk off our lunch, we took a stroll along the beach, seeing lots of birds such as red-throated divers, kittiwakes, and gannets along the way. Everywhere we looked; it seemed that there was something new to see.
Mountain hares breed on Mull and again, we were taken to a spot which meant that we could get close views of this extremely fast animal.
We were returned to Pennyghael for 5:00 pm having seen everything that we'd asked to see, and having got closer to the otters that we could have thought possible. This wildlife tour made our holiday, thanks to the expert guidance of Bryan; we learnt a lot about the wildlife of Mull and saw sights that we would not have seen on our own. A wonderful day.
If you're going to Mull to see wildlife, I suggest you try one of the wildlife tours on offer. I can really recommend going with Wild About Mull, you won't be disappointed.
don#t forget to bring your binoculars to catch a better glimpse of Golden Eagles, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Otters, Hen Harriers, Puffins.