This year was the first year that I didn't go to Mull for a few years. I made six trips in five years. It is a fine place. There is a lot if ground to cover, and getting lose to the wildlife requires knowledge, skill, patience and some luck. OK, so no different to most other places in the UK to be honest.
Now I am either tight as I don't like paying for someone to put me in front of my subjects, or prefer the thrill of my own explorations. The truth is someone in between, and probably much closer to the last.
Let me explain what I mean. When I go somewhere new for a holiday, I usually have more subjects that and photos that I want to get than I know is reasonably possible, although it never stops me trying. With limited time in one location, I have tended to use a wildlife guide, rather than a photo guide to take me round an area so I can see what is where. Photo opps on these days are usually limited by the activity, and other people. However, if I can get a day trip out early on, I am then better placed to do my own thing for the rest of the week, or however long I have.
And so it was when I visited Mull on previous years, taking a trip out with Pam and Arthur Brown of Discover Mull, or Steve Duffield of Western Isles Wildlife this year on the Uists.
Mull is a great island with wonderful wildlife but not always close to you, so you do need to work at it.
The typical big target species that people go to see are Golden Eagle, White Tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Short Eared Owl, Ottter, and Corncrake down on Iona. Early May is a good time to see all of these species, with the SEO and HH being dependant on the vole population. The first couple of years I went the vole population crashed so the Harriers and Owl were nowhere to be seen.
All of the above were taken on Mull or Iona, the images below were taken on North Uist or Skye, but can be found on Mull
However, many of my best shots, in my opinion were not of the 'big' species. There are a staggering number of bird species on Mull, I usually just about cracked 100 in a week there. Some of the best photography can be had working these other species, which I will bring you in the next part.