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" The Mull of Kintyre - Machrihanish Bay "


Date & start time:    Monday 17th September 2018.

Location of Start :   Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy Bay, Argyll    ( NR 663 324)

Holiday location:     Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy near Campbeltown, Argyll. Scotland.

Places visited :        Campbeltown, Machrihanish Bay and Bird Observatory.

Walk details :           Local walks from the hotel and at Machrihanish Bay.

With :                         Ann and our dog Dylan.

Weather :                  Overcast and broody, rain in the air and a strong easterly breeze.


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Reading through the books at the hotel before supper, as you do when you don't have to spend time cooking,

we found these old pictures of Bellochantuy (pronounced locally 'balloch and tea')

which show the hotel, the old road and the changes over the years.

I took Dylan for a short walk up the hill to see for myself.

The top picture shows the hotel, built in 1785 as a coaching inn, a convenient stopping point on the route south to Campbeltown.

The three other buildings are a private house, a Raleigh Cycle depot and a large church built in 1820 "to serve the southern end of the parish".

The Inn looks much the same, through now extended back towards the sea.

The 'old road' which passed directly in front of the building is still there.

The three other buildings are gone, the house and shop replaced by the new road.

The church attendances declined as the farming and working population decreased through emigration.

It was eventually demolished and the land is now just a triangular turning area, storing the local waste and recycling bins.

We extended the walk with a trip down onto the beach.

A pied wagtail searching the shoreline for food.

Noisy oystercatchers fly past with their high pitched calls.

They settle on a rock close to the surf next to two common gulls

- - - o o o - - -

With the weather looking none too promising, we go for a drive to Machrihanish Bay.

. . . we didn't get far, just two hundred yards down the road, where we stopped to watch some shags on a large rock.

A popular place to hang out . . .
. . . or hold on if you are on the side ledges.

Machrihanish stands on the western coast at the northern end of the lower part of the Mull of Kintyre.

To the south here the land rises once again, to the north there's a fine curved sandy beach, famous locally for surfing.

This rocky headland marks the change between the two.

Just visible in the previous picture but zoomed in here . . . this gentleman was enjoying the surf in the bay.

Looking north up the coast or to the Mull from the trig point on the headland.

The commercial buildings are a land-based fish farm breeding wrasse fish which are important in some salmon farms

as the wrasse are good at eating the parasites that can attach themselves to the larger fish and so keep the salmon healthy.

(see the video here . . . right click to open in a different window)

The ochre-red building on the headland beyond the fish farm is Machrihanish Bird Observatory

A sign outside says "visitors welcome" so we knock on the door.

Inside we find a gentleman sitting alongside an observation window . . . He introduced himself as Eddie Maguire.

Eddie and friends set up this observation hide on the headland and now run it as a charity.

They settled here as this place seemed to be blessed with good views of migrating birds and passing marine animals.

They have a great view out to sea on a good day . . . and today seems to be reasonable.

We discussed the birds and also asked Eddie if he had spotted any seals recently ?

On cue one arrived and swam past the rocks below the observatory.

He also pointed out another Atlantic grey seal that had been sitting on the old pipeline all the time we were there.

[ Did you spot it on the photo two back ?]

The large seal on the pipe has shifted round to get more comfortable presumably,

the other has swum round and was relaxing in the bay by "bottling" or floating upright with just his nose above the surface.

- - - o o o - - -

Eddie spends most days here when the weather allows

and has built a small bird feeding station and bird trap.

[The black grains on the floor are niger seed.]

He's also set  up a project to study the small bird known as a twite.


We didn't see one today

but this is what they look like.

(RSPB picture)

Eddie's bird log provided a suitable perch for his chaffinch.

Looking around the hide, we admired Eddie's many pictures

including this one of an otter on the rocks below the hide, taken a few years back.

The group send bird observations every day to several national birding organisations.

We'll leave him to continue the good work.

- - - o o o - - -

Sadly we failed to take a photo of Eddie on the day so he sent me this one recently which was part of their September Bird Report

"Arran Natural History Society with the warden at MSBO 15th September "

(Eddie is the one in the gateway with the camera )

- - - o o o - - -

After we left the observatory the weather started to close in, but it was still good enough to enjoy a short walk on the beach.

We parked the car and headed for the sand, passing the Ugadale Hotel and the Golf Club club house along the way.

The wind has increased but the weather is still dry.

There's a good surf running . . . and an offshore wind whips the spray from the top of the waves.

A square-on photo looking into a breaking wave.

A large gannet above the waves . . .
. . . flying back and forth across the bay.

" Drama on the rocks "

Offshore the gannet suddenly dives, head down, wings back . . . I catch him just as he's about to hit the surface.

The poorer weather seems to have passed offshore but the bay views were spectacular.

On the rock in the foreground a gull sits face into the weather.

A flock of sandlings fly past, twisting and turning in the strong wind.

We take time out in the shelter of a sand dune.

The waves are impressive.

The gull seems to cope with all the turbulence.

The sanderlings fly in towards the beach.

Time to make our way back . . . scattering the birds as we go.

A twenty minute drive finds us back at our hotel.

- - - o o o - - -

For tonight's supper perhaps we'll pick . . .

a cruet in the shape of a couple of Marmite jars.


It's not that we need extra taste,

nor does the lovely food need extra salt or pepper . . .


It is just that they look intriguing !


- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 mid-range System Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . an expert and a keen eye.

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