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Isle of Mull 2022

I do love a good road trip & this was going to be a good road trip…

Early 2022 I managed to book a trip with a good friend Paul Fowlie, he was running a workshop on the Isle of Mull. Great chance to capture some fresh images, the trip was booked for May, straight after my honeymoon… bonus…

I decided as the drive was going to be a long one, it would be best to break the drive up. So I decided to have a day at Bempton Cliffs on the way, give me a chance to test out the new R5. Did I forget to mention I had a new toy to play with, lol, yes I made a panic purchase while on honeymoon, I’ve gone mirrorless. With all the new features, Bempton Cliffs would be the perfect place to test out the new focus modes, including the eye tracking, with 1000’s of flying birds, this would give me a great chance to dial in the functions before the main event.

Well it was a cracking day, just me, the R5 and a 600mm f4. I spent the day wandering up & down the cliffs, 1000’s of Gannets, a single puffin & even a Barn Owl in the distance. The results were stunning, the camera performed the way I wanted. As the sun set, it was time to go. Pot Noddle made, it was time to head towards the Isle of Mull.

I drove for a few hours and then decided it was time to call it a day, pitch black, middle of no where, I managed to find a track just off the road. I set up my bed in the back of the van, plugged in the laptop and uncorked the red, time to view a few thousand images. When I woke in the morning, I must admit, I am dam good at parking in the dark, nice stream running down the side and peaks were all around me, perfect. A nice relaxing breakfast, then it was time to press on to Oban for the 12 O’Clock ferry.

I arrived on the Isle of Mull just after lunch and headed to our accommodation to meet up with the others. 

Day 1… Early start and we were off to Laggan Bay to catch our first boat of the trip. We were off to capture some White Tailed Eagle action. I had never photographed Eagles before, I was pretty excited. We got to our spot and dropped the bait, in the distance we could see the eagles on the top of the ridge just circling. In no time they were latched onto the boat and gliding their way in, incredible creatures, couple of circles and straight on it’s prey. Then lifting off, amazing strength, the size of the head, the claws & beak, stunning to watch, but I wasn’t there to watch. The R5 had tracked to whole thing, for the trip I had opted for the 100-400 for my lens, with the 1.4x tc in my pocket just in case they were not close enough. Knowing we had another trip in a few days, this time I went for safety, the 600 would have been my first choice, but on a rocking boat, hand held and the fact in may be too long, that is why I chose the 100-400. Bag the safety shots first, then get creative later in the week. We managed to get five runs out of them before returning to dry land. 

Then off to find some otter, Paul was a great guide to have, never giving up even when I was past it. We visited the next bay and scoured the shoreline for a few hours. We manged to see a couple of otters, foraging and capturing, working our way along the shoreline, just trying to keep far enough ahead of them, moving between points while the otter was out of sight. This is where the 600mm is the perfect lens, it allows you to keep your distance, not to disturb, allowing normal behaviour and it is the best way of capturing the perfect image. Combined with the 1.4 tc it even gets better, most of my nature work I always try to get low, this allows you to get eye level with your subject, but the depth of field will be so much better, blurred fore and background really focuses the eye on the subject.

Day 2… A very early start, off for more otter action, light was better so was looking forward to spotting a few early morning otters. The morning we covered a couple of bays, watching and photographing a number of otters. Working the same way, along the shoreline, keeping the disturbance to a minimum. At one point we lost one of the otters, just disappeared, we walked along the shoreline looking for movement. Nothing, but then we managed to spot him, he had gone behind us, climbed a pier leg and was fast asleep.

The second part of the day, we were back on the boat, out to find some eagles. The light got better as the day went on, by the time we got there it was perfect conditions. This time armed with the 600mm, I was after some in close action, camera and lens didn’t disappoint. Again we got 5-6 runs from the eagles, each time just slightly different angles, with the light changing the background colour for each run. Back to dry land and as I explained, Paul never gives up, we were back out around the bays for otters.

Day 3… Conditions were bad, we were meant to be off to see some Puffins, this was going to be delayed. The backup plan was to have a roam around the Island, capturing the odd otter of course. The weather was rubbish, rain, wind, more rain, then more rain, but searching from the car was a big help, jumping out when we thought we saw movement. Funny enough, it turned out a good day, plenty of birds, Northern Diver, more Otters and even a Short Eared Owl, that spent a long time posing while trying to dry in the wind. He would have soaked up a lot of rain five minutes before, lucky for us, he was to heavy to fly, but also keeping our distance we posed no threat.

Day 4… Our last day before we packed for the trip home. Today the boat was running to Lunga, the puffin island. Although we were informed the crossing might be a little rough, we were ready for it, Paul might have needed a lot of persuasion. All aboard and we were on our way, too say rough might have been an understatement, but we arrived all safe & with some good light. I made my way up to the top slopes and was very pleased to see an array of flowers, especially the large areas of bluebells, this would make a great foreground and a way to frame the puffins. Shooting ground level I was able to shoot through the Bluebells and Almeria’s giving me some great colours to go with the puffins. For me, the best shots were with a small clump of puffins, foreground was bluebells, behind was a dark cliff face with large patches of yellow lichen and mosses, perfect to add colour to the shot, the little flashes and droplets of rain just adding to the whole image. Always love some time with Puffins, they have great interactions with each other, some rubbish landings and lovely characters. The trip back was about the same, with a quick stop off on another island, then back to solid ground.

The Trip Home… As we had a late ferry back to the mainland, we decided on another trip around some of the island, even managed a little brown birding as I call it. I’m no birder, I know most of what I see, but never tend to photograph the standard brown bird, well this was my chance. 

Soon our time on Mull was at an end, it was time to leave. I was leaving with fond memories of the trip, the excitement of going through the 8000+ images I had taken, looking forward to producing new works for the gallery. All in all, it was a great trip, great bunch of togs, and a guide that wouldn’t give up even on the worst days. Loved this place, looking forward to a trip back.

Thanks for reading. For more images from this trip, please visit our shop. Below is a piece that came from the trip, the first day at Bempton. I managed to capture a pair of Gannets going through their mating moves, the cliff behind them had been lit up by the sun giving me a great background, giving me this stunning image. Already winning a few competitions, it was also awarded a Bronze in the 2022 BIPP National Print Awards.

Available in a range of sizes and on a range of media.. Click on image for shop..

Other images from Mull are also available at our shop..

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