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.
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.
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