Friday, 7 October 2011

The Wild Vitality of Life

(aka The Vitality of Wildlife)

Eco-therapy : the psychology of nature. Wildlife watching as a remedy for the stresses of everyday life. Even on the Isle of Mull there are stresses and strains to be fought and overcome, but of a different nature!

Batteries Included!
Late Summer sees small parties of comical Sanderling drop in to the island’s sandy beaches, en route from their breeding grounds in the High Arctic tundra. With almost manic endurance, these extreme long distance migrant waders never do things by halves. Their speeded up surges, in chase of exposed tide-line invertebrates, is like watching children’s clockwork toys of the past. Only, this time, batteries most certainly have been included! – 08/08/11

A Floral Bodyguard
The delicate beauty of the lavender-coloured flowers of Butterwort gently disguise the magical properties that are held within. On an island where the everyday air is heavy with myth and magic, this insectivorous plant is held in great esteem for the immunity it engenders against witches and bad fairies. That we should still require its protection in the 21st century may be open to debate and ridicule, but you wouldn’t want to chance getting on the wrong side of Mull’s bad fairies, would you? – 01/06/11

A ‘Fish’ Out of Water
The purity of air on the Isle of Mull make the island a wonderland for lichens, many of which are indicators of the ancient stands of woodland that previously clothed much of the local landscape. The lobes of the Sticta lichens are particular favourites of Mull Magic and greatly appeal to our wickedly perverse (at times!) sense of humour. Growing on many oak trees throughout the island, a quick sniff of the leafy thallus will provide you with an unforgettable experience. These lichens are notoriously aromatic, smelling of rotten fish. No wonder they’re referred to as Stinky Stictas! – 18/08/11

Standing Out in a Crowd of None
Towered over by an 1800 feet cliff-face, these little, red-roofed properties cut a colourful, if rather incongruous, dash on the south shore of Loch na Keal. To many, the majestic, boulder-strewn landscapes of the Gribun epitomise the stark and rugged beauty of the Isle of Mull. It is an environment that is withheld from many of the island’s visitors, especially those that arrive by public transport, as it is not an area of the island served by the local bus service. With mesmerising views out over Inch Kenneth, to Ulva, Little Colonsay and the ‘Pillar Island’ of Staffa beyond, these are properties where the curtains need never be drawn! – 19/03/11

Beguiling and Bejewelled
Like a myriad of tiny, distant stars, bejewelled in the darkness of space, the granulated caps of the Glistening Inkcap certainly live up to their name. Found at the base of rotting wood, these pleated, egg-shaped toadstools are always a welcome find, even if only to look at, as they are inedible. Like others in their family, the gills assume a mushy, inky black with age, as this ‘star’ mushroom develops its own nursery before dying. – 05/09/11

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