The Treshnish Islands

The Treshnish Islands are a beautiful string of islands, sitting a few miles south of the Treshnish headland, renowned as a sanctuary for seabirds – and particularly famed for the apparent fearless friendliness of the puffin! There is a wonderful view of the Treshnish Islands from the wooden gate just beyond the Haunn Cottages – a view which stops me in my tracks every time, even after 20 years of living here!

Mull Treshnish Islands

We haven’t been to the islands for years – our last visits were both thanks to the generosity of Turus Mara! One visit was with Ulva Primary School, when our daughter was in Primary 1, and the other was ‘a landladies tour’ when Turus Mara invited local accommodation providers to experience one of their trips! I particularly remember the school trip as it was wonderful to watch the children experience the joy of ‘puffin therapy’, and we landed on Staffa and had a good look in Fingal’s Cave. We keep meaning to go again, as it is a magical place – perhaps next year!

Treshnish Islands Mull storm

Based at Ulva Ferry, Turus Mara have been taking visitors to the Treshnish Islands for decades. Father and son skippers, Iain and Colin, run two boats which enables them to offer a comprehensive selection of tours, some are all day, some are shorter, some will take you to Staffa and onwards to Iona too. They allow dogs, which is great for our dog-guests. It is a far shorter drive from Treshnish to Ulva ferry, and there is also the community bus if you would like to leave the car at home.

Treshnish Islands Mull

There is an historic connection between the farm and the Treshnish Islands as they were part of ‘Treshnish Estate’ at one time. The islands were marketed for sale along with the farm, by the previous owners in 1994 when we moved here. We could have never afforded to buy the islands as well as the farm, and anyway we can look at them from here, and go on a Turus Mara trip every now and then if we want to! The islands are now owned by the Hebridean Trust who have a base at Hynish on Tiree.

Lunar eclipse at Treshnish

I didn’t think I would see the lunar eclipse at Treshnish last night as the weather forecast was for cloudy skies. I went to a meeting at Fishnish last night, and the skies began to clear – a lovely silvery moon, looking huge, rose over the Sound of Mull, so beautiful.

Super moon Treshnish

I took a photograph of the full moon rising above the steadings from the back door. It did seem much bigger than usual. That was just after midnight.

We went to bed and shortly after 3am the alarm went off and we could see the moonlight on the trees outside the window. We leapt out of bed and went into the garden to look – there was a faint mist so it was not as clear as it might have been, but it was clear enough. Funnily enough, and I don’t know if it was due to the mist, but the moon did not seem as visible, it was just a reddish orange glow with the naked eye. I used the long lens as a way to see what was going on, as it was hard to tell with my own eyes.

Blood moon Treshnish

It was very special to be standing out there under the stars and knowing that we were watching something very rare. The next time this will be visible is in 2033, so I felt very lucky that we saw it here.

Lunar eclipse Treshnish

The wind wasn’t helpful either!

eclipse moonTreshnish Mull

Regular readers of the website blog and the Haunn blog will possibly know that I do time lapses, and last night I made a couple of short ones of the red moon and of the light beginning to come back after the total eclipse.

Autumn accommodation on Mull

Are you looking for autumn accommodation on Mull? If that is the case, look no further! We have some space left here between now and the end of October and it is now being offered at Winter prices:
Haunn Cottages:
East 26/09 – 3/10 (was £420 now £280); 24/10 – 31/10 (was £360 now £280)
West 17/10 – 24/10 (was £380 now £280)

Treshnish Cottages:
Shian 2/10 – 9/10 (was £495 now £310); 16/10 – 30/10 (was £430 now £310)
Shieling 23/10 – 30/10 (was £380 now £280)
Duill 23/10 – 30/10 (was £410 now £310)

So…. if you are looking for autumn accommodation on Mull, these vacancies are available on the booking page now.

autumn accommodation rainbow

The island begins to slow down at this time of year, and the evenings begin to lengthen. Yesterday evening we spent a very pleasant evening by the fireside in Duill and walked back under clearing skies to the house in the dark. It was the first time we had experienced the warmth and atmosphere of an evening in Duill since the insulation was improved, and it was so cosy! Farmer suggested we moved ourselves. There wasn’t a clear sky as we walked back to the house although we could see a few stars through the cloud. I set a time lapse to record any Aurora activity but it was mostly drowned out by the cloud.

autumn accommodation Calgary

There have been some lovely autumn days and nights recently which has cheered us all up! The walks on Calgary beach in the morning as the sun just hits the bay are magical, and the clear dark skies have been wonderful.

autumn accommodation aurora

For more aurora photographs and news of the farm, please have a look at the farm blog!

Inspire Wild Astrophotography

There have been at least 2 new tour groups operating on Mull this season, one is Inspire Wild and the other is Enjoy Mull. Inspire Wild is run by Ewan Miles and Cain Scrimgeour. Ewan used to work for Sealife Surveys, and we met him on a RNLI fundraising trip they were doing round Tobermory Bay a couple of summers ago – in that short trip he was knowledgable and interesting about what we were looking at! They have a lovely website which details their tours – slightly different from other tour companies, as in addition to the regular tours, they offer an evening tour and they do a trip on Ardnamurchan too. Inspire Wild were instrumental in arranging the Mull Hen Harrier Day in August, and we were happy to donate a 3 night winter stay at Haunn as one of the Raffle prizes.

Croig Inspire Wild

I have seen lovely photographs that they have taken on the evening tours this summer, and as the light is often so good at the end of the day, if you are a keen photographer this could be the tour for you! Lots of wildlife around in the evenings too, and he knows his subject. What I am very pleased to see, though, is that they are planning to do some Night Tours this winter, starting in November. Ewan has taken some amazing night photographs on the Isle of Coll as well as Mull.

Inspire Wild Croig

We have had a few nights when I have been able to catch the Northern Lights on camera. With the naked eye sensing the brightness of the skies but not visually being able to see the colour. I will certainly be booking onto one of the Inspire Wild night tours to improve my skills in Astrophotography!

Inspire Wild aurora

We are very lucky here that Treshnish is already in a good place for night photography, as there is very little light pollution, and we quite often benefit from clearer skies than other parts of the island. On my home from a meeting last week, I noticed the glow in the northern sky. I knew there was a chance of the Northern lights so had come prepared with camera, tripod and torch! I stopped at Croig to have a look through the camera, and sure enough there was a wonderful green streak behind the clouds, and nice soft light from the house illuminating the fishermen’s shed. When I got home the sky was noticeably clearer of cloud so I was able to take a few more photographs before it faded. The Milky Way was bright too.

Treshnish Inspire Wild

I haven’t met the Enjoy Mull team yet, but they have recently moved to the island, and I have had a look at their website too! It told me that Jacqui has been involved with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust for a long time, and is a Director, and Mike tends gardens all over the island when he is not out guiding. They do some tours where you can walk as well as tour the island looking for wildlife, and a lovely sounding family trip, looking for creatures in rock pools and the like! I would enjoy that one. There are lots of wildlife tour operators on the island to choose from as well of course.

A Mull autumn

A Mull autumn can be warm and sunny; wild, wet and windy and sometimes cold… it is difficult, nigh impossible, to predict….  The days are getting shorter – by the Autumn equinox day length will be equal to the night, and as it goes into October the nights win out over the days.  This time of year is never monotonous and once I have let go of the memory of summer, I begin to really enjoy the Mull autumn. As I write we still have leaves on the trees, and the fields are glowing with abundant Devils bit scabious, but the bracken is turning and the swallows are gathering, though they are still here, just now!

Mull autumn light

This last week, the weather has been great. We have even been to the beach – experiencing the exhilaration of being out of doors, away from the phone and the office, having a beautiful beach all to ourselves for most of the afternoon, building a small bonfire and cooking over hot coals, ravenous children playing on the rocks while they wait for their bap filled with Treshnish meat, afterwards sitting in the sun, flying a kite and ending up in the sea, or twirling like a spinning top in mid air on the sands. Bliss!  The last day of summer!

Mull light autumn

Mull autumn cow

But the showery unsettled weather has its advantages – it can lead to wonderful skies, with dramatic clouds and magical rainbows – great for photography!

Mull autumn rainbow

The light in the evening as the sun begins to set enriches the landscape and warms up all the colours beautifully.

Autumn Mull light

We have been lucky too that the dry spell has coincided with silage making – it has enabled us to make the silage in sunshine, which makes such a difference to the quality of the food!

Mull autumn light Haunn

 

If you would like to enjoy a bit of Mull autumn yourself, please have a look at our booking availability on the Pricing Booking page. We still have some spaces in October. If you would like to do a Mull photography workshop why not contact Sam at IslandScape Photography? She offers courses and days out all year round. I did a course with her a couple of winters ago, and it was good fun! Her photographs show the advantage wild weather can have for a photographer.

Starlings!

We have a lot of Starlings around at the moment, they come and mob the bird feeders and move swiftly through the grass in the garden by the house, looking for insects. We enjoy the swooping mini-murmurations of the Starlings in the evening as they come in to roost on the wires beyond the cattle shed, and the constant taking off and landing further along, further away, until finally they go and we don’t see them again.

The weather on Sunday was fantastic for the laundry. We dry nearly all our laundry outside – even in a wet summer, it is amazing how much drying can be done outside, but Sunday was hot and very windy, so washing was drying in record time. The last load was on the washing green beside the recycling shed, which just so happens to be underneath an electricity wire.. suffice it to say, once the flock of starlings had done their taking off and landing, and taking off again, that last load of sheets needed to be laundered again…

Last night, Farmer was putting the wedder (male) lambs he is selling into the cattle shed, to keep them dry and safe overnight, and I went with him to help count them to confirm the numbers. The evening light was lovely when we finished and walked back along the track past the Studio. The Starlings were congregating at the Studio, and as we slowly walked towards them they took off with an audible whoosh of the wings.

Mull Starlings

They murmured over Shian and Duill,

Starlings Mull

flew like fishes,

Starlings like flying fishes

and collectively started to swoop down to the wires,

DSC_0335

so quickly, making such great landing shapes against the sky,

roosting Starlings

landing, stopping, quiet. For a minute or two.

Sitting Starlings Mull

We walked away and they stopped still.

Starlings on wire Mull

A beautiful encounter at the end of a day.

 

An August aurora at Treshnish

An August aurora at Treshnish whilst I sleep! I have never uploaded a .mov file to the website before, but I wanted to share this beautiful August aurora with you, so I thought I would try. I have now moved the time lapse to YouTube as Tim who designed and built our website said it was too big a file for our site…

The forecast was good, and test shots revealed some colour so I set the time-lapse shortly after midnight, and went to bed. It was very still and quite cold after the heat of a beautiful summers day. The Milky Way was bright and the sky was full of stars.

DSC_9669

It was lovely to wake up with the warm colours of another lovely sunrise. Feeling a bit like a child on Christmas morning, I sneaked out of bed and down to see what the camera had recorded while I slept. I don’t know how to ’embed’ a .mov file so that it shows a preview of the ‘film’, so for now please click on the link below to see the time-lapse, taken over a 3 hour period in the early hours of this morning.

Here it is. I hope you enjoy it! Such pretty colours. The greyish-green wispy clouds above the colours of the aurora is called ‘airglow’ – you don’t often see it as clearly as we could last night/this morning. It’s quite lovely seeing it flow across the upper sky.

dawn Treshnish Aurora

August in a Mull Meadow

August in the Coronation Meadow, the grasses are flowering their pale earthy beauty, with huge patches of Tufted vetch blues. I hate to say it but looking at the plants flowering now in the meadow, it does feel as if autumn is not far off, despite the weather being distinctly summery the last few days. Grass of Parnassus, Knapweed and Devil’s bit scabious are all flowering beautifully, as are the less common Field Gentian. With swathes of creamy Meadowsweet and the grasses all flowering, I am constantly reminded that autumn is coming.

meadow Haunn

This year we are not cutting silage in the Coronation Meadow, as we do this on a rotation, and because there was so much grass last summer, we cut it when we should have left it fallow. So this year, it has been fallow. Silage is being made in the neighbouring field, and so for the first time in years we are letting the cows in to munch it down.

field gentian meadow

Field gentian turning its face to the setting sun.

Meadow blue vetch

The Tufted vetch flowers in drifts and the bees love it.

meadow grass

Grasses are flowering and the pollen is making me sneeze.

meadow sneezewort

This is Sneezewort.. perhaps it is causing my sneezes. It has just started to flower.

meadow angelica cow

This evening Farmer decided it was time to let the cows into the meadow. They were through the gate from the Black Park so fast, hurriedly chomping on Angelica as they rushed through, and off cantering madly through the long grass, tails flying, clumsily leaping… eventually they slowed down in the wetter bit of the field in deep Meadowsweet!  This field is on a 4 year rotation for silage, and on the years when it is not being cut for silage, it is grazed down by, first, the cattle and then, the sheep.  This is the earliest we have let the cows into the field for years, but Farmer wants them to benefit from the green grass still around, rather than waiting until it has started dying down.  It will be interesting to see whether we find any differences next summer when the wild flowers come out again, to see if it has made any difference.

cows meadow crazy

Tobermory lifeboat day 2015

Last year I helped on the RNLI Raffle stall at Tobermory Lifeboat Day. I remember it rained a lot, and we huddled under an awning selling raffle tickets. This year the sun shone all day!

Tobermory lifeboat day boats

Most of the activity of the day was centred around the Tobermory Harbour building, Taigh Solas.   There were lots of stalls raising money for different local groups and charities – such as the newly started up Riding for the Disabled. Stalls selling delicious local produce – I had Fish pie from Tobermory Fish Company, Farmer had an island burger!  Daughter was off with her pals so we didn’t see her at all.

lifeboat day THA

Boys with buckets and hand lines fished from the pontoons. Families queued to tour the Tobermory lifeboat and took short turns round the bay on the Sealife Surveys boat. People ambled, and people sat, enjoying the sun as we did, and catching up with friends.  The Mull Aquarium was open and donating 20% of its entrance fee to the RNLI, so Farmer and I went to have a look. It was really impressive and I will blog about it separately.

lifeboat day tobermory

The Royal Navy Rescue helicopter came across to do an exercise with the Mull lifeboat crew.  I heard someone say it was 43 years old.

lifeboat day Navy Tobermory

The raft race took place as usual, with 6 or so rafts.  One of these had a bicycle on ‘deck’ which one crew member was to peddle (and drive the paddles at the back). What a great idea we thought -particularly inventive, though we were not sure if the designers had actually tried it in the water before the race!

lifeboat day raft racing

The Mull skiffs were there, and 8 teams did a Skiff Knockout, with the Firemen winning overall. It was amazing to see the effort employed in racing these beautiful boats.

lifeboat day skiff racing

The 2 skiffs wait for the whistle to blow to start the final!

lifeboat day skiff final

And the last rafts (the one with the bicycle) near the end of the race…

tobermory lifeboat day

All in all, it was a wonderful event, and I hope they raised a suitable amount of money for RNLI funds. It is amazing to think that the RNLI survives totally on donations, and yet is a vital service to maritime communities around the UK. Well done to all involved in making it happen, and thank you to the sun for shining too.

Scarecrows

Scarecrows are not generally a common sight at the roadside on Mull, but down in the Ross of Mull, there are quite a few hanging about at the moment! If you chanced upon them unawares you might have been a little surprised, but there was an explanatory sign, near Pennyghael, which explained that the scarecrows were part of the Ross of Mull Gala Fortnight, being held for the first time this summer!

fionnphort scarecrows

This catty scarecrow, calling itself Tobermory Cat’s cousin, stands outside the Ferry Shop in Fionnphort which is a great shop with a good selection of groceries and next door to their craft and book shop.

firefighter scarecrows

Firefighter Sam is one of 2 sitting outside the Bunessan Fire Station, just across from the lovely Bunessan Bakehouse (which was closed as we went past this afternoon on account of the Bunessan Show I suspect!).

police scarecrows

Up the Brae from the street and the bay, is the Police Station, and this scary speed cop certainly slowed us down.

Ross scarecrows

This is Dunlop, he stands outside an artists studio between Pennyghael and Bunessan.  I talked to the artists who made him, and was told I must mention that they got the idea of how to make him from an artist called David Kemp, and that it was his copyright.

steampunk scarecrows

This Steampunk meets Scarecrow sits beside the road entrance to the Ninth Wave restaurant, just before you get to Fionnphort.

calmac scarecrows

The Calmac staff scarecrows were at the Bunessan Show and provided a great climbing frame for the children at the show.

I know there are lots more scarecrows that we didn’t see, and many that I didn’t manage to photograph. I hope they will do the same thing next year!