A pair of March hares

I finally managed to get some photographs (albeit through a seasalt-encrusted double glazed window) of the pair of March hares that visit our garden every morning. It was a magical experience getting so close to them, though they scarpered when I tried to get a shot without the salty ‘filter’ and opened the window.

Hares in garden

If I remember rightly, mountain hares died out on Mull a long time ago, and were re-introduced from Ireland. (more information on Prasad’s blog) They never seem to get any whiter in the winter than this. We are lucky and enjoy encounters with them all year round, sometimes seeing 4 together.

This morning, Farmer found the remains of one in the field below the house, a reminder that nothing lives forever…

Hares, hens, elephants

I will keep trying to get a closer shot of them, as long as they keep visiting. They are playing havoc with our seedlings in the veg garden, but we forgive them!

Mull in March

People quite often ask me what Mull is like in March. I can remember before I came to live here, forgetting that the spring might feel a bit later on Mull, even though it might be warm and mild. I suppose my advice always has to be that the weather can be mixed. Today has been beautiful. Some wintery showers for Farmer when out feeding the animals, but for most of the day strong sunshine. Some days it can be warm enough to eat outside, and it can snow.

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The days are getting longer, and that is always a special part of March. You know the long summer days are not far away. And that we should be able to enjoy many, many sunsets like this one over Coll, which I photographed this afternoon.

Stars and daffodils

Recent clear skies have given me great opportunities to wander around in the dark with my camera again. Watching the stars, searching for the aurora borealis, and listening to the sounds of the night.

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Under clear skies

The colder weather brought clear skies, and I went out Aurora Borealis hunting later. There was a weak showing, affected by cloud at horizon level.

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This was my first attempt at star trails.. (still a way to go I think). We are so lucky to have the clear and dark skies overhead. As I went to bed the moon was rising, and cast lunar shadows lighting the clouds.

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The vernal equinox

Today is the vernal equinox.  Half way to the longest day.  Half way from the shortest.  Daylight hours seem to accelerate from now on. This has been a stormy one.  Winds and more rain. Big seas.

Greylags

Today we saw the return of the gannet, my favourite bird! Just one, flying not diving. Prasad saw a merlin twice near the woodland. We disturbed these greylag geese in the wigwam field.

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Progress in Shian and Duill which are beginning to look finished as the landscaping has been done. Inside Duill is almost there, and Shian following on closely behind.

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New self catering on Mull

We have been planning a new eco self catering unit here on Mull for some time. The architects drew up plans for a turf roof cabin at the woodland edge last summer. Unfortunately our plans to have it ready for the spring 2014 were thwarted by a planning condition concerning the road junction – on land we do not own. This has set the time scale back a bit.

However we decided that we would still build a turf roof cabin in time for spring 2014, but to a slightly different design.

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It is not at the woodland edge but is located close to our veg garden. Made from lots of recycled bits and pieces, including the red and blue pallets which we have been saving for something extra special. The turf roof is seeded with butterfly and bee friendly seed.

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I love it. And I am hoping pollinating bees, insects and butterflies will love it too. The first of many I hope to built in various corners of the farm.

The hen harrier and the hunt saboteurs

A male hen harrier was hunting over the wetland beside the Coronation Meadow this morning. Farmer had seen him when he was feeding the sheep, hunting through the gullies, but when we spotted him later he was being mobbed by some hunt saboteurs – a trio of hooded crows.

This is one very fuzzy photograph, I do apologise, but I was hand holding camera and long lens, and they were a good distance away.

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The sea eagle that Farmer had seen earlier on was nowhere to be seen, but it was wonderful to watch the hen harrier, so close to the Haunn Cottages. We watched them for quite a while until the hen harrier finally dropped down into the wetland out of sight.

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And I never tire of seeing the Treshnish Isles even if they look a little hazy, it was that sort of a day.

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Mad March hares

We have been really enjoying seeing a pair of mad March hares every morning in the garden by the house. Undisturbed by anything, they are gradually eating the tops off all our hedging cuttings and I wonder if they will start on the daffodils soon. (the sheep love the daffodils as well). I need to take my camera upstairs before bed so I can get a photograph of them.

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The calves are growing and becoming more inquisitive by the day. There has been a bit of a lull in the calving, with 7 cows still to calve.

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Duill Cottage is so very close to being finished now. We need the plumber to do his bit in the kitchen so that the new tiles can go on, and the electrician to come on Monday and put the electrics back together.

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The weather today has been pretty wild. No sign of a ferry heading to Coll or Tiree today, with huge rolling waves coming in from the north west all day.

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The light over to the Treshnish Isles from Haunn was beautiful this afternoon, and the wind was exhilarating to say the least.

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A faint Aurora

A faint Aurora showing last night, just as I was thinking about going to bed.

There was quite a lot of cloud about so I had to use a high ISO (5000) – hence the graininess of the photograph. As is becoming my habit, I spent over an hour outside with the tripod. It was not cold. There were lots of stars between the clouds. I was joined by one of the farm cats Thimphu. She came from Calgary as a kitten and is 16 years old now. She is the one who jumped into the Studio kitchen and helped herself to some of a wedding feast whilst the guests were all at the wedding on the beach. We now have a sign in each cottage asking guests not to be taken in her ‘I’m hungry’ look – she is amply fed and watered by her owners.

The aurora gradually weakened and the clouds grew in stature, at which point I could safely go to bed!

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All too soon the season for the aurora borealis will be over and I don’t want to miss any!

Atlantic Hazel Woodland

Farmer woke me up at 4.30am to tell me he could see a red glow in the sky. It was beautifully clear, and not very cold. I saw lots of shooting stars, and a satellite. I couldn’t see the glow Farmer had seen but I did capture it on camera – faint against cloud and stars.

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Lots of builders on site today, and progress appears to be made! 3 weeks until our first booking, but their confidence is contagious.

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I walked the dog down to the shore. A half white hare runs off into the Atlantic hazel woodland. Catkins on the hazels dangling bright against the crisp blue sky.

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Lichens catch the light so softly. The oystercatchers were calling.

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Easter availability on Mull

Usually our Easter availability here on Mull books up really early, and this year was no exception, but last week we had a cancellation in Toechtamhor from 19 – 26 April – so we do, again, have some Easter availability! If you think you might be able to take a week’s holiday at that time and would like to book our last space, please get in touch!

Our hens are beginning to lay more eggs so we hope by Easter they will be laying enough to share with our guests.

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