In preparation for the busier months as a Wildlife Guide on the Isle of Mull, I purchased a new pair of Leica Trinovid HD binoculars. As all wildlife tourism is down during this pandemic, I would like to share some of my wildlife encounters during my daily exercise in local areas.
By Ewan Miles – www.naturescotland.com
The Mimic Masters
It has been a privilege to watch and listen to Sedge Warblers. The males have been busy advertising their territories in local areas and their varied song is a mixture of fast chattering phrases. I have heard them mimic Swallows and Common Gulls in recent weeks and ornithologists can sometimes work out where about they have spent the winter due to their mimicry of exotic African species!
Sticking to the subject of ‘copycats’, in my garden whilst I was listening in admiration to a Song Thrush, two Starlings perched up alongside for a closer look and listen. I have heard this male Song Thrush mimic the calls of Common Gull and Redshank in its repertoire. Both species are regulars on a nearby sea loch.
Make the Adder Count
We did eventually mange to see our first Adders on the third week of March. This is my latest annual record for 7-8 years and potentially due to the wettest February on record. Photographed is a male in a traditional site basking out and preparing for the breeding season ahead. It is essential that these snakes are left to bask. If you encounter an Adder and they start to lift their head, please move away slowly.
It was great to see our first female Adder of the year this April. One way to differentiate the sexes is through size, females are larger than males as they can reach about 70cm in length. Current thinking is the female’s size is related to clutch size. Larger females can lay more eggs.
The Lemon & Lime Bird
People often ask me on tours “What is your favourite bird?” I normally provide a top 5 but the Wood Warbler is always included! The magnificent migrant is a delight to watch dancing around the canopy of a mature oak wood. Their magical song sounds like a coin spinning on a marble table!
Birding in a woodland habitat often reduces the light but using my new Leica Trinovid HD binoculars I was able to see different species in great clarity due to excellent optic performance. Viewing the Wood Warbler through the ‘bins’ revealed so many shades of yellow and green on the bird’s plumage, it was like watching a new species.
The current lockdown has encouraged me to explore and learn more about my ‘home habitats’. I have walked along a nearby stretch of river and I have been privileged to see Dippers and Grey Wagtails both on territory, looking to establish breeding attempts.
The Grey Wagtail has been given a name that does not describe the colourful beauty of the species. They do possess different shades of grey but the lemon yellow colours really make the bird stand out.
Buzz in the Meadow
It was wonderful to see so many queen bumblebees feeding from the willow blossom in the garden. There was a healthy number of white-tailed bumblebees, a few honeybees and one buff-tailed bumblebee.
My Leica Trinovid HD binoculars focus to a range as close as 1.6 metres so I can enjoy watching with exceptional quality, helping to reveal the amazing world of these incredibly important ‘engineer species’.
It is not just daytime that you can enjoy viewing wondrous things through your binoculars. I have been enjoying looking at the full moon in great detail through Leica glass, admiring all the visible creators and the the general lunar topography. During April, we had the last ‘super moon’ of 2020 which is known as the ‘flower moon’ because it appears at the time of blossoming flowers.
I have even managed to see two planets whilst enjoying the dawn chorus! Jupiter and its 4 larger moons and also Saturn and the famous ring.
Ewan Miles Bio
Living on the Isle of Mull surrounded by sea lochs, mountains and glens, Ewan provides a range of
wildlife and photography experiences for ‘Nature Scotland’. His passion for bird conservation has led him to become the BTO Regional Representative for North Argyll and a Golden Eagle Fieldworker on his island patch. Ewan incorporates the monitoring and recording of wildlife into his guiding role, and hopes to provide all his guests with a memorable and educational experience, reconnecting them to the natural world.