Explore one of Mull’s hidden gems
CARSAIG IS A wonderful find on Mull, as few birders seem to go here, so most things you find are unlikely to have been previously recorded. The road from Pennyghael is about 4.5 miles long and, like most roads on Mull, is a single track with passing places. Forestry is one of the first habitats you see with a mix of breeding Crossbill, Siskin and redpoll to look out for, while Buzzard and Sparrowhawk patrol the skies around. Large clear-felled areas will ‘grass’ up, providing hunting and nesting for Hen Harrier and Shorteared Owl. Approaching the cove, conifers give way to a mixed planting with some natural regeneration, especially of Hazel and birch. A few warblers nest here, with both Willow and Wood Warbler, plus Blackcap. Redstarts can use the walls and hollow trees while Rock Doves frequent the crags. Looking out into the natural rocky harbour, divers are common here, with Great Northern Diver (below right) from October until May and Red-throated here in the summer. Shags use the rocks to dry off along with a few Cormorants and Herring Gulls, while Black Guillemots dive in the rich waters. Due to the high cliffs, walking here is not easy, but two walks of note can take you to see some dramatic coastal waters, with plenty of eagles to look for. Low tide is the best time to do these walks and walking west is the path to Carsaig Arches, with basalt stacks and sea-worn arches. Walking east you’ll find a series of caves and more eagles above. Wheatears hunt for flies, while Stonechat stand on top of the bracken, along with the odd Whinchat, so keep a look out.