The six night retreat started with an introduction to the habitats and species on a soggy Sunday! We managed to see an otter and a couple of White-tailed Eagles along with a Swift (a scarce bird for the Isle).
On the Monday we visited the Ardura Community Forest which is part of the 'Northwoods Rewildling Network'. MICT director Moray Finch provided a superb 'walk and talk' through the woodland sharing the current and future plans for the area which will benefit wildlife, people and the climate. In the afternoon we had a look at Torosay Hills which has started native tree planting to restore the rainforests which ruled the hillsides in the recent past. A wet Tuesday provided the opportunity to watch the new inspirational film #riverwoods which is the story of a fish that lives in the forest. And in the soil that feeds the forest. And in the predators, scavengers and even herbivores of the forest.
In the afternoon, RSPB Eagle Officer Dave Sexton popped into the hotel to chat the group and provide an amazing insight into one of the most successful nature recovery stories in the UK, the return of White-tailed Eagles!
It was time to explore the seas on Wednesday as we joined a Sea Life Mull excursion and managed to see a Minke Whale along with Harbour Porpoise and WT Eagles. After lunch at Tobermory we headed to Treshnish and Haunn Cottages where Carolyne provided a wonderful guided tour of the estate, showing many examples of sensitive wildlife friendly management, enabling biodiversity to flourish. We also enjoyed seeing some scarce wild flower species including Wood Bitter Vetch and Small White Orchid!
On our last day we headed for archipelagos to the west with Staffa Tours to admire the 'seabird cities' along with the geological wonder of Finals cave. These boat operators are also one of the many examples of rural economic benefits provided by wildlife tourism.
On the final evening we ventured out on an excursion and we were privileged to see two Short-eared Owls and a Hen Harrier on areas of moorland which are not directly managed for any purpose, with natural processes leading the way.
Ewan Miles (June/July 2022)