It was a bit like a division in the House of Commons. ‘Golden eagles to the right, white-tailed eagles to the left.’ Thus averred the lady with the binoculars and telescope, to whom I spoke as I set off on the track beside Loch Ba, central Mull. I had, naturally, asked her what birds were around. Although she sounded confident, I didn’t really believe her.
We carried on up the track beside the loch with the wild mountains ahead and sandpipers tooting over the water.
Soon we came to an open flat area, known as the floodplain, where lapwings called and flapped in an agitated manner. Here Glen Glachaig, which runs down from Ben More, opens out into Loch Ba. The wild sound of lapwings and waders was striking, and sand martins flitted around.
A bit further on we stopped by the loch for lunch and watched a pair of goosander bobbing in the water.
Then we walked through a lovely bit of woodland and into Glen Cannel to the south of Loch Ba. Looking up I saw a white-tailed eagle drifting in the sky, identifiable by its wedge-shaped tail. It was indeed to the left of where we had met the birdwatching lady.
We followed the path up this glen to the cry of curlews which were in abundance, and came to Gortenbuie, an abandoned farmstead whose outbuildings seemed still to be in use.
We returned through the birch and ash woodland, where I was delighted to spot a tree pipit singing on top of a tree and then doing its glorious flight-song. There was also a spotted flycatcher, which I rarely see nowadays.
We came back to the floodplain and, looking up Glen Glachaig, saw two golden eagles, above the horizon and then against the hillside. And they were to the right, just as the lady had said they would be.
I followed the path up the glen towards Ben More, hoping to see them again, but I didn’t.
However, on my way down I spotted a whinchat at the top of one of the small trees, another unusual bird for me.
So everything was in its place and it was a great walk.