Friday, 21 May 2010

Mull’s Ethereal and Exquisite Glamour

The Treshnish headland is a remote, wild and rugged region of North-West Mull, which offers fabulous walking all-year-round, with the added bonus that the views are simply to die for! The location for today’s walk is one of our favourites on the island and one that we never tire of. The drizzle and mist of yesterday had decided to hang around a little longer, yet this allowed us to view the Treshnish archipelago in all its ethereal beauty, which is something that only the most seasoned of walkers get the chance to appreciate.

On climbing up to the flat top of Dun Haunn, an Iron Age fortification, we had a bird’s eye view out over the sea. The dark hulk of Lunga, the principal member of the Treshnish group stood head and shoulders above the smaller Cairn na Burgh islands, which lie at its North-East fringe. Today, the larger island is home to thousands of nesting seabirds and is something of a ‘Puffin Central’ in these waters. Unlikely as it may seem today, Lunga previously housed a human population of around 20 residents, the last of whom departed the island in 1857. The remains of the black houses can still be seen and leave us to reflect on the life and times of a bygone age, when seabirds and their eggs would have been an important part of the islander’s diet.

Sitting in our lofty position within the fort allowed us to scan the stony beach below, where a pair of Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers had chosen to nest, far above the high tide mark of decaying seaweed. The nests were little more than a shallow depression in the ground, which were decorated with broken shells. The background colour of the eggs of both species is similar and blends perfectly with the pebbly environment of the nest location. This cryptic camouflage greatly protects the nests from being found by potential predators.

The female Oystercatcher had laid three eggs in her clutch, whereas the Ringed Plover had four eggs in its scrape. Oystercatcher’s tend to lay two or three eggs, although complete clutches of four eggs can be found. After locating the nests, we were mindful not to outstay our welcome and paused only to take a photograph before leaving both pairs to continue with their incubation duties.

The orchid season has well-and-truly begun on Mull and we were delighted to come across a few small colonies of Early Purple Orchids as we walked among the coastal grassland at Treshnish. Orchids are our ‘celebrity’ flowers, here on the island, as each species has a particular beauty and glamour of its own.

These exquisite flowers are special to many and Mull Magic always experience a special delight when we come across these beautiful plants. The Early Purple is the first of our orchids to come into flower and, on the nearby moorland, we notice that it won’t be long before the Heath Spotted Orchid follows suit. Shortly, we won’t be able to walk far for fear of trampling on these most prolific of local orchids!

To share more wonderful photographic memories of our walk along the coastline at the Treshnish headland, click on the following link!/album.php?aid=170081&id=62130039800&ref=mf

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