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The island is a great place to see Eagles; however, it is also a very good bird watching destination, if you want to see other birds of prey, such as the Peregrine Falcon and the Hen Harrier. The Short Eared Owl, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk are also seen around the island. The Short Eared Owl is quite unusual as owls go, because he only hunts during the day. It is a bird which will give you really close views if you are looking in the right habitat, which are small conifer plantations bordered by undulating moorland. Our other owls are usually nocturnal, though you can occasionally see newly fledged young owls sitting around during the day. These include the Long Eared Owl, Barn Owl and the reasonably common Tawny Owl. The most common owl to be heard late at night is the Tawny Owl.
The Merlin is a rare bird on Mull, and they can be overlooked as they glide low over the heather in search of prey. They are also small; in fact, the male is only the size of a mistle thrush, and he has a blue back and red speckled chest. The female is dark brown and the size of a Kestrel, which is reasonably common on Mull. All birds of prey have their particular hunting technique, and the Kestrels' style is to hover motionless on the wind, while waiting for an unsuspecting Short Tailed Vole to make a move below. The Buzzard is our most common bird of prey, and your first sighting will almost certainly be of a bird sitting on top of a telegraph post and looking like a small eagle. In fact, many visitors to the island are convinced that they have seen an Eagle on these occasions. It is such a common claim, some people now refer to the Buzzard as the tourists eagle! The Merlin has the pointed wings of a Kestrel but is smaller and shorter tailed with dark duller plumage. It flies with great speed and agility using quick shallow wing-beats. At close range its moustache is less obvious than on any other British falcon. Adult males are slatey-blue above with a black tip to the tail: females and immatures are a dull dark brown above, heavily streaked below. Although resident in Britain and Ireland, some northerly individuals move to lower areas during winter and are supplemented by further birds from Iceland. Continental birds from northern Europe also move south to central and southern European lowlands Some reach North Africa.
Mull and its surrounding islands are home to thousands of seabirds and ducks. On the main island, you can see nesting Kittiwakes and Fulmars. The Black Guillemot nests here, as does the Shag and a number of species of Gull, including Britain's largest Gull, the Great Black Backed Gull. Just offshore on our smaller islands, you can see large numbers of Puffins, Common Guillemots and Razorbills. There are also rarer birds, such as Storn Petrel and Arctic Skua. On the mountainous island of Rhum there are huge numbers of Manx Shearwaters. Many seabirds that do not nest here, are also seen on migration, in Spring and late Summer. Birds such as Sooty Shearwater, Gannet, Corys and Great Shearwater are seen annually. Nesting along Mull's seaweed covered shorelines, are Red Breasted Merganser and Eider Duck, and on inland lochs there are Red Throated Divers, Slavonian Grebes, Black Throated Diver and Great Northern Diver.
Bird watching Magazine recently referred to Mull as 'Eagle Island' and most keen birdwatchers would probably agree with this. Along with the Isle of Skye, the Isle of Mull is the best place in the world to see The Golden Eagle. Numbers are reasonably high here and the birds enjoy a spectacular range of habitats from 3,000 foot peaks to sea cliffs, adorned with white sandy beaches. Golden Eagles eat carrion [any dead animal], mountain hares and some game birds such as Ptarmigan; however their favourite prey is undoubtedly the Mountain Hare.