Spectacular Birding on the Isle of Mull

The beautiful Isle of Mull is Scotland’s fourth largest island and a popular tourist destination for a number of reasons, one of them being that it offers superb bird watching opportunities in a wide variety of habitats. The island’s mountains, moorlands, sea lochs, hill lochans, damp boggy marshes and wide sandy beaches are home to many local species of birds, as well as a host of migrants at different times of the year.

Raptors that birders can look out for include Golden Eagle, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Merlin, Buzzard and Sparrow Hawk. Resident owls include Barn Owl, Tawny Owl and Long-eared Owl, while the Short-eared Owl visits the Isle of Mull to breed. The island’s more than 300 mile long coastline attracts many waders and serves as an en-route feeding stop-over for Whooper Swan, Greenshank, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Whimbrel and more. Large flocks of Song Thrush, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat are found virtually everywhere.

Birding enthusiasts can be sure of seeing something interesting no matter what time of the year they choose to visit the Isle of Mull. Many birders agree that the months of April through to June are very rewarding. The weather is generally warm and dry, allowing greater visibility. In May many of the birds are in full breeding stage, which is always an exciting time for bird watchers. The Great Northern and Black-throated Diver spend their winter on the sea lochs, while the Red-throated Diver favors the fresh water lochs in the spring and summer months. If using the ferry from the harbor at Oban to cross over the Ross of Mull to the Craignure ferry terminal on the island, birders are very likely to see Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannet and Red-throated Diver during the trip, and as an added bonus, dolphins are often seen from the ferry.

In recent years the mink living on the Isle of Mull, as well as other islands of Argyll, have grown tremendously and have started becoming a threat to ground nesting bird populations. New measures are being implemented to control the mink population and protect ground nesting bird colonies, such as those for the Arctic Tern and Common Tern.

There are a number of tour operators offering organized tours around the Isle of Mull, where expert guides with in-depth knowledge of the island take visitors to see otters, seals, deer, hares and other wildlife, and of course, an abundance of birds! The scenery is exceptional and the variety of birds that can be spotted in a single day is phenomenal. The Isle of Mull should definitely be on every keen birder’s list of places to visit.