Posts Tagged ‘Iona

05
Jun
15

What’s it all about

Do I get enjoyment from leading tours? Of course I do. Sure I love seeing birds and other wildlife but the best value I get is showing a guest something they have never seen before. When whatever it is shows well then that’s when I get really excited for them. Strongly imprinted memories live long in the mind. When something shows well those memories are well and truly burned into place. For me it’s always more about the people than about what they are looking at.

I always ask my guests after a tour what was their best moment. Sometimes it’s hard to filter out what was best among a throng of bests but on the latest Mull Tours the sightings of Corncrake more often than not came out on top. Some really good sightings this year of this enigmatic species both on the ground and in the air. Long may that continue.

Corncrake 1

Corncrake

17
Jun
13

A quest accomplished

Across the hay meadows of Iona this week we could hear Corncrake. Seeing them however was a different matter.

We had decided last autumn when we were in Canada that a break in Scotland during late spring would be good. I have always wanted to photograph Corncrake and the Scottish Islands are their stronghold. We therefore decided to stay at the south end of Mull so we could take the ferry to the island of Iona if the weather was suitable to try for the Corncrakes. A quest was born.

The problem was the vegetation was far too long. Yes we’d had a cold spring but in the last week or so warm sunshine and showers had brought on the meadows. The vegetation was over head height for a Corncrake. Plenty of crakes calling but very difficult to see let alone photograph.

Iona is an island steeped in religion. It has become a place of pilgrimage for both the religious and the curious. Priest after priest making the walk from the ferry quay to the Abbey stopped and asked
“Have you seen them yet?”
“Yes” was the reply “…but not well enough to photograph”
“I’ve been coming here for 30 years and not seen one yet” said one.
Great. The temptation is always there to go in close and wade into the field. This is a protected species. A bird on the edge of extinction as a breeding bird in the UK and therefore deserving of its schedule 1 status. It must not in any way be disturbed and to be fair who wants to photograph the arse end of a Corncrake as it jettisons to the other side of the island anyway. ‘Just let the bird come to you of its own accord’ I kept telling myself. I patiently waited on the road, peering over a stone wall towards one calling individual which was presumably still unpaired. Head shot after head shot with the bird hidden among buttercups was the norm.

Eventually at the end of the second day trying the bird did indeed come to me and I got a half decent photograph … the quest was accomplished.

The usual view.
Hidden Corncrake

The view eventually.
Corncrake




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