Days Twenty-four & Twenty-five of Megan & Matt Go Wild!


Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in western Scotland)

Yesterday was a quiet day. We hung around the cottage and took a break from dashing about.

But even here that meant a couple of otter sightings and our regular evening visit of pine marten.

Today, we took a trip to one of my favourite places – Mull. It feels like it’s on a different level. On Mull you’re on constantly alert for anything that moves, and we saw porpoises (my first ever), otters, Mull’s famous sea eagles, a peregrine falcon, wheatears, twite and oystercatchers.

We also took the boat to Iona, where I got one of my biggest ever birding ticks – the rare and extremely elusive corncrake. It makes a sound like a comb being run against a desk.

Not only did we hear this bird, we even spotted someone in a front garden of one of the handful of houses of this tiny island community.

But alongside the wildlife, one of the best elements of this trip has been being surrounded by such knowledgeable people whom I have learned so much from. Our current trip list of all the species of wildlife we have seen is 260. This is an incredible total, and I’m so impressed with the friends I’m with and the wildlife they can identify.

Megan (in western Scotland)

DAY 24

Today was a bit of a recovery day after the recent busyness. As someone who suffers a lot from exhaustion, this mid-holiday break was needed so that I don’t burn out before the end. I have spent far too much time at my laptop today, but I have been having fun. Whilst Matt was preparing the vegetables for the roast dinner, I played a bit of my music. The ‘Dear future husband’ song by Meghan Trainor started playing, and I thought about how my version would be quite different – after all, my future husband will have to accept me for who I am which includes dissecting owl pellets, keeping roadkill, smelling otter spraint and looking for insects.

Then I actually decided to write out my own version of the lyrics to the song! It was posted on my blog earlier today.

I then took it further, thinking that it would be quite amusing to make a video for my YouTube channel. I found the instrumental version of the song and edited some text onto photos and videos in time with the music. Here is the result, enjoy!

DAY 25

Following the calm of yesterday, we headed over to the Isle of Mull to try and see lots more wildlife. The plan worked – Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) from the ferry and two Otters (Lutra lutra) gliding through still waters of a loch (during which my camera broke, nooooo!). On Iona, we were building our hopes up to hear the calling of male Corncrakes (Crex crex), and we did! It is one of the oddest bird noises I have ever heard, probably more weird than a booming bittern! Do go online and listen to it! Only about 15 minutes later and Matt spotted one as we were walking back to the ferry. What a lifer!

A small detour driving back to look for eagles – always worth detouring for! We had excellent views of an adult White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), and could also glimpse a youngster through the branches of a tree.

Day Twenty-two of Megan & Matt Go Wild!

Welcome to our joint-blogging series for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild Challenge – you can read more about the campaign and ourselves in our introduction page.

Matt (in western Scotland)

If every day could be like today, life would be perfect, which really shows the value of going wild.

By 5am I was looking for otters. And as I’ve just been typing we’ve all dashed outside to see an otter at 9pm at night.

I’m now back at the iPad typing away having watched an otter make its way through the bay.

A few minutes ago I had a sore back from lying on the floor for three hours waiting for the pine martens with limited success. But it’s all forgotten after seeing my first Scottish otter in a while, and Megan’s first ever

And I haven’t even mentioned the extremely rare northern emerald dragonfly I spotted this morning or the chequered skipper butterfly we found, or the newts and toads I held.

Most importantly, I feel restored and refreshed, and have shared these experiences with amazing, talented, knowledgeable friends.

Megan (in western Scotland)

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I am already having a fantastic time in Scotland watching wildlife. The evening eclipsed all that when pine martens, yes PINE MARTENS!!!!!, appeared just outside the garden. Beth and I practically died of excitement – Beth cried and I was almost not breathing. It even came up onto the steps by us!

As I write now, it is early evening and we are all hanging out in the conservatory waiting for the pine martens to reappear. We think there are three individuals.

In terms of today, we went off to Claish Moss in search of more wildlife in different habitats. Very tiring walk, but totally worth it. There are no set footpaths on Claish Moss itself, as visitors aren’t encouraged since the bog is pretty dangerous to walk across due to, well, it being a bog. We went down a track in the neighbouring forest to access the reserve. There were lots of wonderful insects for me to marvel at including plenty of Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata) moths, dragonflies and best of all, a Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) butterfly! This beautiful little skipper is found only in north-western Scotland and was one of the target species of this holiday.

Coming back to this post because OTTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My first ever!! After assisting on otter spraint surveys, dissecting otter spraint for dietary analysis, seen otter prints and finding otter anal jelly, I was desperate to see an otter. It is even one of my 2015 Wildlife Resolutions! When the call resonated through the cottage of “Otter!”, I was just putting my laptop onto charge. I raced through the house, almost knocking over a couple of the others and almost had a heart attack when I saw it. Otter!!!!