cycle scottish island

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You may find this information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit

The red deer is Britain's largest land mammal. They are most numerous in Scotland, but isolated populations occur from the Lake District to Cornwall, with a few small herds in Wales. Venison from red deer in Forestry Commission woods is very popular with consumers in Britain. Venison from red deer has less cholesterol and fat than other red meat, and deer living in the woods do not have any artificial feeding. Habitat Red deer originally lived on the woodland edge, but the large scale reduction in tree cover in Britain over the centuries has forced them to adapt to life on the open hill. Red Deer abound on Mull, and if you scan the mountainsides of areas such as Glen More, you will find them. The only other deer which you will see on Mull is the Fallow Deer, which most people agree is the prettiest of all the British Deer. The only place that you can find Fallow Deer, is in the area of Knock, near Loch na Keal.

There are two species of seal on the island; these are The Common Seal, which is not so common (!!), and The Atlantic or Grey Seal, which is much more common. The best way to decide which Seal is which, is to study the head, as The Common Seal has a much more doglike shape i.e. forehead and nose, whereas The Atlantic Seal has a very flat head. Common Seals also have very dark young, which they have in early Summer, whereas Atlantic Seals have white young in Autumn. A golden rule when seal spotting on Mull, is that if you see seals basking on rocky islands just offshore, they are usually The Common Seal. If you are a few miles offshore and see the same, it is usually The Atlantic Seal.

Otters are mythical creatures to some and many people including so called 'experts', have never seen an Otter. However, they have often seen their signs, i.e. their spraint or droppings. It may be that in England and the rest of Europe, you have to be content with seeing their signs and that is because they are usually nocturnal in those places. Here on Mull, the Otter hunts during the day and he is more governed by the state of the tide, than whether it is morning or night. Otters are only occasionally seen in fresh water here, and it is just offshore near seaweed covered rocks where you will most likely see one. Purchase a Tide Table and study the tides, because The Otter is much more likely to be seen on an incoming tide, than at any other time. As it comes toward high tide, the Otter usually heads for its holt, which is its home and rest area. It is also where they rear their young.

It is very easy to miss an Otter, despite the fact that they are quite large, the Dog Otter being around four feet from nose to tail. Most people miss an Otter because they are simply not looking!! I saw my last Otter this afternoon and he was about a quarter of a mile away and silhouetted on top of a small rocky Islet. They can be very close indeed when they bring a fish ashore and proceed to eat it - perhaps as close as twenty feet away - and as they are so used to visitors simply cruising on by them, they accept cars passing their territories quite readily. However they can sometimes be very obvious, particularly on a quiet and calm day, as they feed on Butterfish, perhaps thirty feet offshore. If you catch sight of one in this situation, make sure you pretend that you haven't, because if you stop very close to an Otter, he will dive and disappear!! Always continue past, and park perhaps a hundred metres away from the Otter.