Birds seen or heard by Guests staying at Burnside Cottage by month

Bird Species November

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The Alams, Ontario, Canada

We had such special time in this magical place...all around the island and Iona as well. Burnside Cottage is a dream - beautifully appointed, cosy, perfect view and great for the kids. We are so sad to leave and eager to someday return. Thank you for providing such a delightful and heart-warming house!


We didn't see any whales last week when we were staying at Burnside cottage on Mull. The weather wasn't great for spotting them, it was windy, choppy and there was a large swell most of the time when we were out in the boat. I did think I saw a fin at one point but it quickly disappeared and I couldn't be sure, it may have been a shark or more likely, my eyes playing tricks on me! The whales are definitely about though and there have been a couple of sightings and news items about them this week. The first one was reported by the BBC, a number of Pilot whales were stranded on the west coast of Scotland near Skye - I always find this so sad when it happens. Thank you to all those who tried to rescue them on Staffin Island. Pilot Whales   The other story I read was covered by STV and this time was about Killer whales sighted off the east coast of Scotland near the Isle of May. A number of years ago whilst on a boat to the Isle of May we saw several Minke whales and were lucky enough to get within a couple of feet of them. As the items says it is rare to see Killer whales in that area. Killer Whales

Birds seen or heard by Guests staying at Burnside Cottage by month

Bird Species November

Basking Shark Tagging Project

Basking shark tagging project

During the summer of 2012, Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of Exeter external site  have joined forces in an exciting new tagging project which will help to solve some of the mysteries about basking shark behaviour. They have tagged 20 basking sharks off Scotland's west coast. And are trying to establish:
  • How long do basking sharks remain feeding in certain areas in Scottish waters?
  • How are the sharks using these areas which are important to them for feeding and potentially breeding?
  • Where do basking sharks go after their summer feeding in Scotland's seas?
  • Do the sharks remain in deeper waters off Scotland over winter?
Only one of the sharks named Cailleach still has the transmitter attached. The name Cailleach  is a Scottish legend of an "old woman", which bears a resemblance to the basking sharks huge, hooked nose. Cailleach has been transmitting now for 128 days and has moved approximately 3000 km from the Inner Hebrides to Gran Canaria. Where will she go next? You can keep up to date with her movements here:        


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Mendelssohn on Mull 25th Anniversary Festival

Mendelssohn on Mull 25th Anniversary Festival   1 - 6 July 2013 An astonishing programme of concerts and recitals. More information here      


During 2009/10, we totally refurbished Burnside Cottage. The new oak kitchen is such a change from the old pine one and modernising the bathroom, replacing the old whisper grey bathroom suite and installing a white modern suite and tiling, has made such a difference. Out went the old storage heaters and putting in under floor heating, central heating as well as a multi fuel stove have made the cottage toasty even on the coldest wintry days. The biggest challenge however, was the decision to take out the old fireplace and deciding to take the whole wall down at the same time! We were sure, from seeing the top half of an old granite wall in the loft, that there would be a granite wall behind the existing fireplace!  I don’t think we were really prepared though for the fact that the wall needed such an amount of work and also all the mess – there was dust everywhere! The men came to take the fireplace out in November 2009, and the wall with the new stove and hearth was completed in early April 2010. We believe it was worth it and we now have a unique feature wall made of the pink granite which has played such a big part in this areas history. Please take a look at our photo diary which lets you follow our journey.

Wildlife – Birds

BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch have repeatedly shown the world a glimpse of the fantastic wildlife on Mull, from the successful reintroduction of the majestic sea eagle, to the dolphins and otters which frequent the seas. Springtime however also heralds the arrival of many species of birds from across the world. A fortnight ago we had the elusive Corncrake in the field beside the house we could hear its rasping call over and over again as it searched for a mate.  Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see this secretive bird this time as it likes to hide in tall vegetation and is very difficult to spot. They arrive from South East Africa to the western isles in mid April and leave again in August/September. With only about 1145 calling males recorded the RSPB have categorised Corncrakes as Red status which means they are an endangered species with significantly reduced numbers being recorded over the last 25 years or longer. Hopefully the conservation efforts now in place will help reverse this trend.