Friday, 28 May 2010

The ‘Made On Mull’ Stamp of Excellence

Although we know that, sometimes, it is unfair to compare, it doesn’t stop us from doing so. It may come as a surprise to many of our followers to learn that the Isle of Mull is blessed with some of the most breathtakingly stunning white sand beaches that you could ever wish to see. What’s more, many of them are just far enough off the beaten track to deter most human visitors, guaranteeing the peace and solitude that would come with having your very own private beach.

Our walks this week in North-West Mull have allowed us to share some of our favourite sheltered coves and beaches with visitors making their first journey to our wonderful island. On encountering the shell sand beaches and aquamarine waters many have felt as if they had been transported to a Greek isle or some exotic paradise in the Caribbean Sea. However, Mull Magic has been quick to dispel any such lingering thoughts in their minds, as we know that beaches in Barbados, the Maldives and the Seychelles were created from a template that has ‘Made On Mull’ stamped on it!

Between beaches, we tramped across stretches of boggy coastal grassland and moor, where colonies of orchids were beginning to reveal themselves. The Heath Spotted Orchid is, probably, the most common member of this rather aristocratic family of flowers on the Isle of Mull. The first spikes of this prolific orchid open in late May and soon local moorlands will be carpeted with these aesthetically pleasing, if rather variable, white-pink flowers. Orchid enthusiasts on the island have identified no fewer than 18 different species. These are fascinating plants which rely on an intimate relationship with fungi in order to obtain the necessary nourishment to thrive in wet, nutrient deficient soil.

Smaller than hoped for numbers of butterflies have been on the wing this Spring on Mull. The cool, northerly winds that have been a feature of late on the island haven’t helped, so we were delighted to come across our first Small Heath of the season. This tiny butterfly, with its attractive orange-brown forewing, is common in grassy areas and heaths on Mull and may be seen flying in habitats that it shares with the Heath Spotted Orchid.

Nesting Common Gulls breed in isolation or in colonies around Mull’s coast. It is a stressful time for these noisy gulls, as parenthood beckons. The eggs in the gullery that we visited this week will soon hatch and parents will have the responsibility of trying to protect their offspring from marauding Buzzards and Ravens, as well as from other Common Gulls that have nested nearby!

The cooler, polar airstream provided one advantage. The temperatures may not have been suitable for deck chairs and ice cream, but the wind direction helped give our views across the sea to Rum, Eigg and Skye a greater clarity. The seascapes around the Isle of Mull, in every direction, are second to none and our walks this week have further emphasised what we already know, that ‘Made in Mull’ is best!

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