Our South West Mull Makers shop/gallery at Fionnphort is now open for the summer (usually Tue-Sat 2-5pm) and I have my range of books about the local wildlife, history and landscape, numerous notecards, mounted artwork and a new, framed wildlife artwork for sale along with the work of the 9 other artists/craftspeople.
I am working on new artwork and books and am open to commissions for wildlife and book illustrations. I was asked to carry out a tree survey of the Beaton Garden this spring and found this impressive veteran oak coppice (4m across).
In the wildlife garden, all the birds are singing and pairing up and it looks like we will have tawny owls nesting again as well as house sparrow (20+ pairs), starling (we've had a mini-murmuration of 30+ birds over winter), chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, yellowhammer, dunnock, wren, blackbird, song thrush and pheasant. The visiting flock of over 30 rock doves is a constant source of amusement, except when the local pair of sparrowhawks visit. The bluebells and pignut are on the rise and will soon be flowering, we have already had bumblebees and the occasional red admiral and peacock butterflies visiting. A small number of pipistrelle bats hawk around the trees on mild evenings.
The wildlife garden is looking and sounding superb at the moment with bluebells, pignut and a host of other flowers attracting bees, butterflies and hoverflies. The humming has a background of numerous birds calling including cuckoos.
Bluebells growing in an area of old cultivation - rig & furrow.
A grey heron visits daily to stalk voles through the bluebells.
Just had an article on 'ghost' woodland published in June Round & About explaining why there are huge swathes of blue grassland at the moment.
There is a fascinating article in the current British Wildlife Magazine on Common Elder and I've sent them this picture of one growing in a ruined croft byre next to the garden along with a self-sown fuchsia.
My two main current art and writing projects are "Nature Conservation - Black & White Issues" and "Extinction is Forever". I hope to produce hand printed books on both shortly as well as a range of drawings, paintings and cards.
Meanwhile, I will be selling my artwork, books, cards and postcards in our South West Mull Makers shop/gallery which is located in the Columba Centre next to the free car park in Fionnphort (the ferry port to Iona at the south west tip of the Isle of Mull). It is currently open 5 days a week (Tuesday to Saturday inclusive ) 2 to 5pm until the end of October. South West Mull Makers are a group of makers and artists who display our beautiful range of work in this delightful setting.
Booklets and some images and cards are also available from this website - please enquire.
For 2022 my book titles include:
“A Guide to South West Mull”
Outlines the geology, history and wildlife of this large section of the island as well as describing some of the visitor attractions.
"Over the Sea to Mull"
A guide to the spectacular ferry crossing between Oban on the Scottish mainland to Craignure on the Isle of Mull with details of the wildlife, landscape and history.
“Important Wildlife and Geological Sites”
This booklet lists all the 18 designated areas on Mull giving details of their significance (location map included).
Describes the different types of woodland, including the rare Celtic Rainforest, and where to find them.
Lists all of the native (and some of the significant non-native) trees to be found on the island, their wildlife and uses and includes a leaf shape guide.
“Herbs of the Beaton Doctors Volume 2”.
Details of more medicinal herbs used by the medieval doctors on Mull.
An illustrated guide (with map).
An illustrated guide (with map).
All of the booklets, photographs and artwork on this site have been produced by me and are copyright. Paper or digital copies can be obtained by contacting me by e-mail. Private viewing by appointment.
My guide to Staffa (one for the Treshnish Isles boat trip also available).
GARDEN WILDLIFE (see Wildlife Gardening Page for more information)
The investment in two new tawny owl nest boxes has paid off with one currently occupied by a female on eggs/young. She is regularly visited from dusk by the male who is bringing mainly field vole and wood mouse prey (luckily for the owls, they are abundant in the garden at the moment).
Above is one of the juvenile tawny owls that fledged from the old nestbox (now roofless) in the garden in 2020.
One of two grey herons that are visiting the wildlife garden every day to hunt for frogs in the pond and field voles amongst the grassland and heather. The garden has a range of much richer habitats that the surrounding fields (over-grazed), but why they aren't down at the bay fishing I don't know (too many other herons perhaps?).
They also roost in the large spruce trees in the garden so perhaps they are going to nest?
Some of the 16-18 goldfinch charm that visit the feeders each day in winter.
Big Garden Birdwatch 29 January 2018
While carrying out the BGBW yesterday morning (29th Jan) we spotted a large group of corvids (ravens and hooded crows) wheeling over the high moorland behind the house. Suddenly, a pair of white-tailed eagles appeared above the horizon, the size difference between the female and male being very apparent. They soared for a while, carried out a couple of pair-bonding manoeuvres – with the male flipping over in flight below the female – and then swooped down on the moorland out of sight. Within a few moments, another eagle appeared flying directly towards us. It soon became apparent by the shape and the white under-wing patches and white on the tail, that it was a sub-adult golden eagle. With all the corvid and bird of prey activity where it had come from, it seemed that it had been disturbed from a carcase by the arrival of the pair of sea eagles.
The young golden eagle flew low over the moorland, descending toward a rocky outcrop on the slopes above our back garden. It landed on one of the promontories where it proceeded to survey its domain and carry out a desultory preening routine where the full extent of the white tail plumage became very apparent. This gave us enough time to fetch and erect a telescope and spend a superb 15 minutes watching this marvellous bird, it’s golden head catching the sun that, each day, is gradually rising above the southern moorland as Spring approaches.
A hooded crow brought an end to the proceedings when it started to mob the golden eagle where it sat, causing the bird to fly off, rising with heavy wing-beats, turning several times, until it disappeared over the hill top.
Meanwhile, looking back east to where the golden eagle had come from, the white-tailed eagle pair were again up in the sky, the female being mobbed relentlessly. She moved easily away without a single wing-flap, flipping over every so often as one of the crows swooped down from above. Both sea eagles rose inexorably until almost out of sight, heading off into the distance. What a BGBW 2018!
BGBW Garden List 2018
Chaffinch 28 min.
House Sparrow 18 min.
Goldfinch 18 (fighting over 3 Nyjer seed feeders)
Great Tit 3
Blue Tit 5
Coal Tit 3
Blackbird 9 (including 4 black beaks)
Rock Doves 2
Grey Heron 1 (one of a pair that feeds on frogs and field voles and roosts in the garden)
Hooded Crow 1
Also during the hour 5 greylag geese and 1 raven flew over.
Some Highlights 2010-2017
Working as Forest Officer for Tiroran Community Forest on the Isle of Mull for South West Mull & Iona Development.
Working for RSPB leading the Mull Eagle Watch trips and other events.
The juvenile white-tailed eagle from Tiroran Forest in 2015.
The nesting white-tailed eagles at Tiroran Community Forest in Glen Seilisdeir.
Carring out a biodiversity audit of the Isle of Mull and Iona.
Logo I designed for the Mull Biodiversity Audit I carried out for RSPB showing the rare slender scotch burnet.
Helping the BBC Autumnwatch/Springwatch and The One Show team film the wild goats at Carsaig on Mull and appearing on the programme.
Mike Dilger, the One Show presenter with yours truly.
Working for the Ross of Mull Historical Centre carring out landscape archaeology surveys and a range of other projects.
Helping with an excavation on Iona.
Writing and illustrating a range of books about the Isle of Mull and its wildlife - see BOOKS page.