Animals can be said to be the watchers of the world, the gatekeepers of our environment. It is important more so than ever that we protect and look after our natural environment and its many species of wildlife.
The Isle of Mull is a wildlife haven, home to many species of birds, sea life and mammals. Wildlife is best viewed at a safe distance to prevent any disturbance to habitats and to promote sustainability of the environment. Viewings can be from hides, deck areas, boat trips and view-points during wildlife tours and bespoke wildlife holidays.
Wildlife species change habits throughout the year, birds migrate and mammals hibernate. Having the knowledge of where, when and what to look for, or joining a guide to explore the places to see these animals can give you magnificent views of rare and magical moments of animals in their natural habitats.
Mull is world-renowned for its wildlife, a premium tourist destination for nature enthusiasts.
The white-tailed eagle, sometimes referred to as the sea eagle, is an extremely rare bird, which is mostly found on the West coast of Scotland. These eagles are the largest breeding bird in the UK with a wingspan of over 2m. They certainly are a sight for the eyes when soaring above or swooping down to make a catch for their next meal. With a diet of predominantly fish, these birds are seen on the coasts of Mull throughout the year. Loyal to their breeding partners, these pairs return to the same territory each year.
The golden eagle can be seen all year round, its habitats are moorland and mountain areas. The best way to spot the golden eagle is to look to the skies when out walking in the glens, moorland and on the hillsides of Mull. These birds soar, swoop and plunge giving a looping display up high whilst on the lookout for food and keeping a watchful eye on their nests and territory.
The osprey looks to nest close by to bodies of water providing a good source of food. They can be seen from spring to autumn months on Mull at various places on the island such as Lochdon, Loch Cuin and Loch Torr.
There are places designated to see these birds from a distance such as the Loch Torr wildlife hide and also on the Duart Estate which has a purpose-built osprey platform. This allows the birds to build their nest and have a place to return each year to breed. To alleviate traffic congestion on the island roads, the Duart Castle car park can be used before heading towards the viewpoint.
To the north of the island lies an area that resonates with visitors, a place where the bright beaked, cheeky-faced puffins make their home from late spring through to early August. The Treshnish Isles, in particular Lunga, is a great place to view the puffin. Boat trips to Lunga leave from a number of locations on Mull and are usually combined with a trip over to Staffa to see large numbers of these enchanting birds up close.
On Mull, you are also likely to see oystercatchers, snipes, red-throated divers, corncrakes and buzzards.
If you’d like to see guillemots, cormorants, shags, kittiwakes and gannets your best chance is on a boat tour around the coasts of Mull and one of the many surrounding islands.
Red deer and fallow deer are often seen roaming the wilderness on Mull. There are large numbers of red deer equating to approximately two deer per human inhabitant on the island (over 6,000 deer). They are seen regularly throughout the year on the hills and moorland but the most exciting time is during the autumn season – when the stags roar! Rutting season is when the hills come alive with the roaring and bellowing of the stag rut, carrying on well beyond dusk.
In winter, you can see the red deer nearing coastal areas as they venture further down for food. There are also a couple of fallow deer herds on Mull. These deer have a light brown coat with white spots, more Bambi-like than most deer.
Not really a wild animal, but sheep are in abundance on the Isle of Mull. There are a number of different sheep breeds that are found on the farms and surrounding farmland. These include Scottish black-faced, Hebridean, Shetland and the not so common Zwartbles. When discovering Mull you will most likely see the sheep roaming the land. Drive carefully on the roads so as not to cause too much disruption to them as they graze the roadside.
The Highland ‘coo’ is a must-have photo opportunity for any visitor to Scotland and the Isles. These cows can be found at plenty of locations. If you’ve got limited time, a drive up to Glengorm Castle is where you are most likely to spot them. On the other hand, if you have a few days you can take a trip from Fionnphort on the south of the island over to neighbouring Iona where the Highland cows graze happily around Iona Abbey.
Learn more about Highland cows in our blog: Everything you need to know about Highland Cows.
The otter is a postcard picture of an inquisitive creature lying in a bed of seaweed. Mull’s entire coastline, along with its rivers and loch areas, is home to the otter, with the seaweed and rocky areas being a plentiful source of food. The otter can be seen at any time of the day, swimming, grooming or having a snooze on the rocks.
However, to catch otters at their best, one needs to be around at dawn and again at dusk. These times are when there is the most activity from these creatures as they search for food, groom, play and frolic.
Spring weather is mild, but the days are lengthening and consistently drier. The landscape is buzzing with life and colour, with flowers blooming and bustling wildlife.Find out more
Summer promises long days, pleasant temperatures, and festivals galore. The countryside transitions from vibrant green to breath-taking purple as the heather blooms.Find out more
Autumn is a time of colourful landscapes and glowing skies. Witness some of Scotland’s most exciting wildlife spectacles and taste flavours unique to our autumn months.Find out more
If the conditions are right, Scottish winters are the epitome of ‘winter wonderland’. Crunchy snow underneath your boots, sparkly fields, and the most beautiful night skies.Find out more
A gentle giant of the sea, the basking shark can be spotted in the waters off the coast of Mull. The basking shark is the second-largest fish in our oceans and leaves those who spot them in a trance of wonder.
They are best spotted in the summer from May through September. You can see the sharks from cliff-tops and/or by taking a boat tour during which it may be possible to spot a triangular dark fin moving slowly through the waters.
Seals are commonly seen along the coastline of Mull giving visitors a front-row seat to a playful show! Common (also known as harbour) seals and the Atlantic grey seal have made the remote smaller islands and the waters around Mull their home. The common/harbour seal gives birth to pups in June when the seas are calmer.
In the autumn, when the stormier weather comes to the island, grey seal pups can be seen as well as a breeding frenzy. This spectacle is best witnessed from a boat trip to the smaller islands off the mainland.
Minke whales are known to roam the waters around the Isle of Mull and its surrounding islands. You’re most likely to spot the smallest member of the baleen family in the early summer months, but can be seen in October too. You can identify minke whales by their dark backs and small dorsal fins far down their back.
The most recognisable and largest member of the dolphin family, you can see orcas, also known as killer whales, off the Scottish coast. Although sightings are rare, they are possible year-round. Orcas roam these waters to feed off fish, dolphins and even seals. Although you’ll undoubtedly recognise their black and white colouring, another giveaway is their huge dorsal fin.
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