I’m playing catch up today for 30 Days Wild as I’m a week behind on my blog posts. I’ve still been doing wild things every day despite being busy with the school holidays fast approaching; this time next week I’ll be visiting my family in Northumberland!
I received my Plantlife magazine in the post, it’s always great to get some good reading delivered regularly and I spent some time reading up on British meadows and the brilliant success of the Coronation Meadows project. We’re lucky to have one of the Coronation Meadows here on Mull, at Treshnish Farm owned and managed brilliant by the Charringtons. The meadow is incredible and only enhanced by the spectacular views over Hebridean waters and the Treshnish Isles. We’ve lost 97% of our meadows since the 1930’s – a statistic I’ve heard so many times now I forget how scarily serious it is. Our land management has changed drastically and for all the wrong reasons and our diverse, species supporting meadows have gone. It isn’t just the flowers, but everything from insects up in the food web. The work Plantlife are doing to reserve this trend is worth my membership, with other large nature conservation organisations losing my contribution recently – they’ve lost their voice.
Yesterday we were lucky enough to head out to the Treshnish Isles aboard the Lady Jayne of Mull Charters to celebrate Zara’s birthday with some wildlife and “puffin therapy”. The weather was brilliant and the islands looked beautiful, surrounded by clear waters, grey seals and seabirds. We heard the rasping call of a corncrake on a smaller, nearby island and found the camouflaged egg of an oystercatcher as we landed among the pebbles and boulders.
Puffins are always a favourite and it’s hard not too love them with their comical behaviours and colourful bills. The island of Lunga, along with other small islands and islets, boasts large numbers of breeding puffins, along with a whole host of seabirds and is of national importance for many of these declining species. Often there are between 2,500 and 3,000 occupied puffin burrows, with yearly fluctuations. The puffins are extremely tolerant of humans, maybe benefitting as we deter predatory species like raven and skua. Unfortunately some humans take this tolerance too far and offer the puffins food or encroach too far by peering down nest burrows – encouraged by a well known “wildlife cameraman” on TV recently.
If you manage to get past the initial puffin burrows without becoming engrossed you’ll navigate the coastal pathway to Harp Rock – the main seabird breeding colony, with vast numbers of guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake and fulmar. You’ll also pass some angry shags, repelling you from their nest sites which are tucked into tiny rocky crevices.
Great black-backed gulls are herring gulls are also in the area, with a handful of territories. Yesterday we spotted three large great black-backed chicks, with adults nearby. Debris of prey items littered the ground and included puffin and rabbit. Further on a little more and you’d enter a great skua territory and risk being pummelled by these irate birds! The islands are well worth the visit, it’s a brilliant day out, but please remember they’re wild species, avoid taking dogs and have some respect!