The People who look out at the Sea

July 28, 2021

When you are on holiday, do you give other holidaymakers names if you haven’t introduced yourselves?

We do, and we know people do it to us. We have given folk names such as: ‘the dog couple’ the ‘big motorhome folk’ and ‘the bird-photographer guys’. Once when we were on holiday on the west coast of Scotland, we know a group of young lads called us ‘the people who look at the sea’. They told us when we bumped into them on the beach and got chatting. They said that every time they walked by and looked across at us, we were sitting looking out at the sea. They would joke to each other: ‘there they are, still looking out at the sea!’

It’s a noble title to hold and during our recent trip to Mull, we lived up to it once again. For almost two weeks, we camped at Killichronan and looked out across Loch Na Keal. When we arrived, we couldn’t imagine a better view from a campsite on the whole island, and other people there confirmed our suspicions, saying it was the best campsite on Mull. It’s less attractive than other sites for most campers as there are no showers, and the toilets and water points are a five-minute walk away. It was perfect for us, as it is all about the view and the peace.

This campsite, though, has a hidden treasure not visible to the naked eye. On our first day, the ‘big motorhome folk’ told us about a pair of sea eagles who live in the conifer trees across the other side of the loch. The eagles were too far away to be seen without binoculars, but we could see them really clearly with the telescope. With such a rare treat dangled in front of us, we decided to pay attention to the eagles' behaviour over the coming days.

It didn’t take long! We discovered that sea eagles spend 99.9% of their time sitting on branches, looking out to the sea. Sometimes they don’t even appear to move their heads for hours and hours at a time. Occasionally they have a preen, but mainly they just sit motionless... that is until the tide comes in. Then at a carefully chosen moment, they glide in and hunt. We saw them catching mainly fish, but they are partial to a seagull too.

They fly across the loch to a gravel spit jutting out into the water. As they approach there is an alarm call to tell us that the eagles are on the move: oystercatchers. We know from flying our drone at coastal areas that the oystercatchers are easily bothered. They are one of the most vocal of the waders. They take to the air together and make their shrill, high-pitched sharp calls. Here at Killiechronan the seagulls then follow, and then the geese. All the birds fill the sky above the shore, and for a good reason: a sea eagle could take any of them for supper.

This holiday sea eagles have taught us to be more like a sea eagle. We resisted the urge to dash off here and there, exploring other parts of the island. Instead, we decided to stay put and just enjoy what this small part of Mull had to offer. Many days we stayed at our camp and simply looked out at the sea, living up to our title. A couple of the days we roamed a little further, five miles up the coast to a beach where we could swim, or a few more to the local town Tobermory to get some food. But largely, we got to know one spot intimately.

Fellow campers would drive to other locations for the day, but we decided everything we needed was here. Several times they came back after a day trip to another part of the island and shared what nature sightings they had seen, and we top-trumped them with our sea eagle, osprey, golden eagle, heron, buzzard, raven and otter sightings. Nature came to us during this trip because we stilled ourselves and stayed in one place long enough to get to know it.

Other benefits emerged from staying still in one place too, such as giving ourselves space to carry out our morning writing practice. It was interesting to notice and overcome the feeling that we had to ‘be productive’ by going someplace else. It showed us how conditioned we are in that sense, that we always need to be doing something. This is an ongoing lesson for Jason and I, and sea eagle helped us peel away another layer of realisation about this.

We weren’t alone with this feeling either, as we were to discover during a conversation with a cyclist who arrived at our campsite one afternoon. He asked us for advice: are there showers, how do you pay, does it get busy? He told us he wanted to stay, but he didn’t feel like he should as, only having cycled 60km that day, he hadn’t got enough miles under him. Then he said he had told himself it didn’t matter, that he wasn’t at work, and he didn’t have to do more. We laughed, saying that we had the exact same conversation about a week ago: the feeling too that we shouldn’t stay at this campsite and that we had to go somewhere else. That need to be doing is so ingrained in us that even when we come away to stop, it is there. Sea eagle has taught us to resist this. During this fortnight away, we have become more like sea eagle.

The sea eagle story is an inspiring one. If you haven’t watched our video yet at the top of this blog, do take a look. We talk about how this bird has been reintroduced back into Scotland. We are always enthused by stories of native species coming back into our country: a rewilding and claiming back what was lost. We also have some writings and photographs to share soon that were inspired during our time here.

What’s coming up

Over the coming months, we have a few exciting things to turn our attention to now we are back home. Later in August, we will be opening the doors again to our Mystery School with a flurry of free events, beginning with our full moon launch party on Sunday, 22nd August. So, keep an eye out for that. Before that, we have our Lammas and new moon celebration on Sunday 8th August and it’s almost time to register for your free place if you would like to join us. We will email the link out next week.

Then later in the autumn, we will be launching Nicolas long-time-coming book Path to Forgotten Freedom: Healing Unresolved Ancestral Trauma. It’s all wrapped up now; we just need to turn the manuscript into a book and then it will be ready for purchase. Two of the themes explored through the book are the themes in this blog: slowing down and rewilding. We will share more information about that in the coming months, and it will be ready as we come into winter.

Useful links

If our blog has tempted you to visit Mull, then do stop off at Killiechronan and remember to look out for the sea eagles at high tide ☺. Here is the link to the campsite.

If you aren’t already on our mailing list, you can sign up via our website here (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. How wonderful to see you both – I could see the sea in both your eyes from all that sea gazing … I love the idea of slowing right down and staying in one place.
    Thank you for sharing Mull with us – stunning images and little joyful ones too with the tiny creatures. What lovely pipe playing from your camping neighbour?

  2. Loved your beautiful video and photos, absolutely wonderfull. Your story about the stillness of Sea Eagles is also very inspiring and brings peace just by listening to it.. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Thank you both for sharing your holiday. You took me to the beautiful isle of Mull and showed me its wonders. So refreshing, so heartening to connect to the natural beauty of the island and its life. It is awe inspiring to imagine what it would be like to stand before Eagle in the glory and power of their presence. I wonder if I dare journey to do so.
    Many blessings to you both

  4. Thank you both for sharing memories of your beautiful holiday .We are lucky enough to have a motorhome and will definitely be looking this campsite up and looking out for sea eagle too .

  5. Magical film as always, thank you both and so pleased to hear you enjoyed your holiday on Mull as Mull is my special place to visit when I travel "across the pond" from California to visit family who have a cottage just outside Devaig on the island, prefect place to get back to nature and recharge!

  6. Brilliaaaaaaant! Thankyou…
    Couple of excited teenagers you have become again…
    Loving your enthusiastic tales of the very wild life on Mull…
    And the wonderful videos…
    The clouds were dancing;
    little crab was dancing;
    And now my heart is dancing to the rhythm of life. ?

  7. How wonderful, I love listening to your little adventures, what incredible wildlife you captured. I'm totally in awe of the European Eagles ? Wow, love the energy and meaning of the Eagle.
    Hope to join your live celebrations soon.
    Kelly x

  8. Fabulous video – I was smiling all the way through it. I felt like I'd been there with you – a whistle stop holiday break for me. And you two look so happy together – you brightened the whole of my day. Thank you.

  9. Loved the blog and video. thank you so much. Delay in watching it as had no internet for almost 3 days, but back on now.
    I can certainly resonate with your awareness to stay put and to stop trying to fit so much in on a trip. It is very hard to slow down when living life in the fast lane much of the time, with so much to do.

    1. Thank you Sue, it is great to read your reflections here. Sea eagle gave us a really useful message. So pleased you enjoyed our blog and video 🙂

  10. I won't go into why but this was just the film I needed to see. I love the idea of holidaymaker names. I think I'll have a ponder on what name I'd like people to give me. Thank you!

  11. Thank you for posting this, I loved watching the video and hearing about the eagles. Mull looks amazing
    Gilly ???

  12. Wonderful photography and video footage. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your hard earned ‘holiday’ to share the beauty and insights with us ? It really drove home the point of not needing to dash off and look for other places and other things to do when you have all you need where you are. We will take this thought with us during our holiday in September. Thank you ?

    1. Hello Karen. I can’t see your surname on the previous comment. Did you find out how to delete it? If not please send me an email pointing out where it is and I will certainly do that. Best to email rather than leave another comment here as I am worried I might miss it. Thanks

  13. We once holidayed on Mull; I'd love to go back and see the wildlife again but I understand the feeling to be doing something and going somewhere so well and right now we've just enjoyed a young green woodpecker visit our garden. That's a good enough sign that we can enjoy the wildlife visiting our garden and appreciating what's on the doorstep first.

  14. Oh, thank you both so much for this read and watch! My mum coincidently shared this with me (I’d told her about you a few weeks back but she had forgotten it was YOU guys).
    I’d not read this blog just yet despite your email.
    This really resonated and I’m so happy you got to enjoy this wonderful place. I’ve learnt a lot from this – Sea Eagle is a beautiful energy to cultivate! Much love and thanks!

  15. Thank you for sharing your blog and video. I love giving holiday makers names.. I think mine at the moment would be woman who talks to her dog ?
    The lesson of sea eagle ? is to me magical .. to be more still and be as one with your surroundings
    Looking forward to joining you both on the 8th

    1. I love woman who talks to her dog! Great made up name.Lovely to hear you received a message from Sea Eagle. Looking forward to sharing the 8th with you too Linda 🙂

      1. Sea eagle ? really has had a profound effect on me the last few days. I talked to my dog Luna about it and she agrees ???

  16. Beautiful, inspiring film and words – nature just gives with all its heart.
    Thank you for taking the time to make this and for sharing.

  17. Dear Nicola and Jason. It was a joy to see this blog after our visit to Mull in July and brought back so many memories of this beautiful island. We took our van too but spent 2 weeks visiting 5 islands of the Inner Hebrides. I felt I needed to see so much and the experiences were incredible, the calmness of Iona, the ruggedness of Staffa, surrounded by puffins, the food and beauty of Ulva and the ultimate immerse in nature at Coll, my favourite. I swam in so many coves I lost count! I loved every single minute of it all, it captured my soul completely BUT I do and felt at the time that I need to go back to sit
    still in one place and your beautiful blog has reaffirmed that next time I will. Blessings to you both! ??

    1. I just drifted off back to Mull through your words here, thank you! We didn’t make it to the other islands you mentioned but want to. Such special places 🙂

  18. It was lovely, as it always is, to see this beautiful place through your eyes and hearts.
    As well as that, it was an inspiration to see you both brimming with health and refreshment.
    It reminded me of how little we need to make life full and sweet; the generosity of the elements, and the wonder of the creatures who share our earthly 'campsite.'
    Thank you.

  19. I love this…just being and observing in the wonderful place you have found yourselves x
    Going to savour your film now?

  20. Hi Jason and Nicola
    On school holidays and and only just getting to sit down and catch up on Buzzard news, videos etc. Thank you for such a fabulous post and video and as always you enthuse and inspire me….particularly Sea Eagle wisdom. I really need to take this on board this school holidays as I always feel like I should be DOING something. Lucky enough to have a van now and shall hopefully be setting off to just sit and be a few times.
    So looking forward to catching up on all the wonderful info within the Mystery school too.
    Thank you again for such wonderful words, pictures and videos. Much love and nature blessings to you both. xx

  21. The people who look out at the sea is a rather lovely description. I’d probably be her with all the kids lol.
    A wonderful blog on reminding us sometimes it’s good just being still. Animals teach us much but we need to be still to see.

  22. Really enjoyed reading this thankyou for sharing, I really was in the isle of mull too and I have put this now on my list to visit one day .blessings

  23. Ah what a great lesson from the sea eagles! Look forward to hear and see more about Mull. Beautiful photos and video, as always 🙂

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