Friday, 31 August 2012

Mown Silage - George Robertson

Thanks to George for this shot of newly mown silage.

More Photos from Storakaig

More photos from our walk to Storakaig last Saturday.

Young male adder

Cladonia community

Fuscidea cyathoides

Red Deer Stag

Unusual pellet on the Sound of Islay

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Visitor Centre News

Outside the office, I was serenaded by a robin as it burst into tuneful singing between showers!
The lobster (whose name will soon be revealed) was also very active, and was struggling to break into a rather large mussel before I left. When we first got the lobster, it rarely ventured outside its favourite pipe, but now can be seen patrolling the tank at any time of day.
Today was also the first time I have fed Benny the Blenny who suprised me by racing after everyone elses' meal!
Finally, we once again have 13 (I think) chrysalises, a mix of Peacocks and Tortoiseshells.


Family Activity Session - Pond Dipping/Bug Hunt

We had one enthusiastic family join us for pond dipping and the bug hunt this afternoon. We managed to avoid one shower but definitely not another! We had more joy bug hunting than pond dipping this time, although we saw both Greater and Lesser Water Boatmen and some leeches in the pond. We caught two different spiders, lots of little blue hopper things (still to be identified) and then there were those which got away . . .

Pond Dipping fun
Black Darter (female)
Crab Spider (Xysticus cristatus?)
Harvestman sp. (Paroligolophus agrestis?)
Leaf hopper  - Cicadella viridis

Storakaig to An Cladach

In glorious weather Lorna and I walked from Storakaig to An Cladach bothy via Gleann Choireadail and back to Storakaig via Gleann Logain on Saturday. It was a fantastic walk with lots of wildlife, though few birds. Highlights of the day were the otter, adders and dragonflies. Here's our list:

Twite, Rock Pipit, Raven, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Gannet, Cormorant, Red-throated Diver, Linnet, Rock Dove, Stonechat

Small Copper, Meadow Brown, Dark Green Fritillary, Common Hawker, Black Darter, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, 4spot Orb Weaver Spider, Wolf Spider, Craneflies, Pond Skater, Whirlygig Beetle, Common Green Grasshopper, Harvestmen, Dor Beetle

Adder, Common Frog, , Common Lizard, Otter

Skullcap, Devil's-bit Scabious, Cross-leaved Heath, Hawkbit, Bell Heather, Marsh Thistle, Heather, Marsh Lousewort, Long-leaved Sundew, Round-leaved Sundew, Butterwort, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Eyebright, Milkwort, Bracken, Heath-spotted Orchid, Tormentil, Rowan, Common Nettle, Bramble, Bilberry, Bog Myrtle, Cotton Grass, Juncus sp.

Four-spotted Orb Weaver Spider

Black Darter (male) - obelisk position - tail raised (to allow air to circulate better round the body and thus cool down on a hot day)

Common Hawker - male

Common Green Grasshopper
Furrow Spider -  larinioides cornutus

Golden-ringed Dragonfly ovipositing

The moorland pool where we saw all the dragonflies

Photos from Jonathan Farooqi

At last I can show Jonathan's excellent photos from his recent visit to Islay. We had image storage problems with the blog (because we're posting so much!) so sorry for the delay in posting this. I was delighted to receive these photos from 11 year old Jonathan Farooqi who visited the Centre with his family. They tested the new Weights Quiz for me! These are fantastic photos. Well done Jonathan!

Basking Shark in the Sound of Islay

Choughs at Ardnave

Frog Orchid at Killinallan

Osprey, Bowmore

Common Toad, Bridgend

Professor Mithen speaking at the Centre

Professor Mithen is back on Islay with his digging team and will giving us an update on his fascinating talk last year about Mesolithic Man on Islay.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Fyn and Kit's visit

Fyn and Kit visited the Centre this morning and spent hours doing quizzes, showing me a video they'd taken of a Basking Shark and making pictures. Here is Fin with his Basking Shark picture. We're looking forward to the video . . . Thanks for visiting guys!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Ramble at Kilchiaran, 24th August 2012

There were only three of us for today's ramble, but what a glorious day for it! Ann and Olivia are two of our newest members and they spent a lot of time with us last week, both in the Centre and out. It was a pleasure to have them on the ramble today, not least because they kept spotting things. No Oystercatchers today - I think that's a record! We collected some more caterpillars for our pavilion though, which  I was very pleased about. I'm later than usual in writing this post because of difficulties with uploading photos from my computer so I may well have forgotten something! I'll add photos later. Thanks for all your enthusiasm you two!

Raven, Chough, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Twite, Goldfinch, Wheatear, Linnet, Gannet, Common Sandpiper

Meadow Buttercup, Marsh Thistle, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Common Centaury, Eyebright, Thrift, Wild Thyme, Lesser Spearwort, Common Milkwort, White Clover, Red Clover, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lady's Bedstraw, Common Nettle, Selfheal, Tormentil, Kidney Vetch, Harebell, Hawkbit, Black Knapweed

Spider sp., Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Small Copper, Green-veined White, Bombus lucorum, hoverfly sp., Bombus pascuorum
Garden Bumble Bee - Bombus horturum
Small Copper

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bruichladdich Rockpooling

It's about time I blogged our rockpooling at Bruichladdich last Sunday. The full species list for this is upstairs in my room, and after today's long walk with  mum (Becky Williamson) it's staying there! Sorry for the disappointment.. Here are the best finds from the day.

Mystery worm/leech.

One of two trays we emptied the buckets into back at the visitor centre, before deciding what to keep in the tanks.

James introducing us to Benny the blenny!

Breadcrumb sponge. This one is demonstrating a lack of algae due to little light, shown by its orange colour. As in the Port Mor specimen from Tuesday's activity session, they are usually green.

Sand/small brittlestar. Found in abundance under stones at Bruichladdich, particularly in muddy pools.



Thursday, 23 August 2012

Benny the Blenny

Welcome Benny, another arrival to our sea tank. James joined us for rockpooling at Bruichladdich on Sunday (blog to follow soon), finding this impressive blenny under a rock. There were hundreds of slippery rocks separating us at the time, so we heard him shout "Wow, this thing is massive!" before we saw it. Of course, we were very excited. Benny is now happy living amongst the piecrust crabs and sea scorpions. He has become part of the gang, spotted using the latter as a tummy rest this afternoon! Check out that pucker!


A Link to Facebook

We seem to be experiencing problems uploading photos to the blog at the moment, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to post some photos from Jonathan Farooqi who was on holiday here last week and took some amazing photos of wildlife. Check the link here:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Slime Mould

Every so often someone sends me a photo of something they describe in negative terms and I can just imagine their faces screwing up in disgust as they do so. It's called slime mould and I've posted pictures here before with a health warning! Here goes again - this time thanks to Beki, Crystal and Mary from the RSPB for seeking this out.
Slime Mould between Bunnahabhain and Finlaggan

Family Activity Session - Rockpooling

Around 20 intrepid explorers set out for the final rockpooling session this afternoon. The rain arrived on cue as we clambered over the slippery rocks, but it was well worth it. The highlights were plenty of 3 spined sticklebacks (nearly 30 of them), ragworms, baby shorecrabs and shannies, and a worm pipefish. Plenty of lion's mane jellyfish have been reported washed up on the shore, and today they were indeed lining the rocks. We also delighted in the breadcrumb, and estuary sponges, comparing textures and 'squidgyness'. Thanks everyone for spending your afternoon rockpooling with the INHT!

Looking for shore crabs

Brilliantly coloured breadcrumb sponge (left) and estuary sponge (right). Sponges are one of the world's simplest animals as they lack internal organs such as a brain, heart or lungs! However they do have a skeleton, which when washed up, finds its way into our bath tubs.

Species List

hermit crab
shore crab
3 spined stickleback
worm pipefish
breadcrumb sponge
estuary sponge
beadlet anemone
flat winkle
rough winkle
ragworm (possibly estuary or nephtys caeca)
egg wrack
spiral wrack
bladder wrack
lithophyllum incrustans

Goat Video

Goat Video a video by Sgeir Mhor on Flickr.

Thanks to Ewen McNulty for sending us this short video clip of feral goats near Soldier's Rock on The Oa.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Nature Ramble at Ardnave - 20th August 2012

Our first nature ramble in a fortnight!!! The sun shone all morning and then, as if on cue, as soon as I'd switched the engine off, the rain started. It was a heavy downpour, but all five of us were determined to carry on with the ramble. Then, just as I was considering a curtailed ramble as Olivia's feet were getting very wet, the sun returned - much to our delight. Sheepsbit Scabious was a new flower for us I think at this locality, so that was a highlight and the Chough performed well, calling for us as they flew overhead.

Herring Gull, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Common Gull, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Chough, Starling, Rock Dove, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Wheatear, Greylag Goose 

Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, Water Cress, Water Mint, Forget-me-not sp., Silverweed, White Clover, Daisy, Mouse-ear sp., Eyebright, Marsh Thistle, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Thrift, Lesser Spearwort, Ragged Robin, Common Nettle, Yellow Iris (leaves), Common Storksbill, Ribwort Plantain, Bracken, Cat’s-ear sp., Chalk Milkwort, Red Clover, Harebell, Grass of Parnassus, Bog Pimpernel, Pineapple Mayweed, Self-heal, Wild Thyme, Tormentil, Marsh Willowherb, Purple Loosestrife, Slender Stalked St. John's Wort, Water Speedwell, Devil's-bit Scabious, Sheepsbit Scabious, Heather, Bell Heather, Common Nettle, Red Bartsia, Harebell, Common Burdock, Purple Loosestrife, Goosegrass

Lecanora sp. (white crustose lichen with black 'jam tarts'), Xanthoria parietina (yellow foliose lichen)

Small Copper, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White, Common Darter

Shore Crab, Cockle Shell, Common Whelk, Limpet

Goosegrass -  Galium aparine

Sheepsbit Scabious -  Jasione montana

Sheepsbit Scabious -  Jasione montana

Daft sheep

Seen on the rocks at the north end of Bruichladdich this morning, with Bowmore in the background. All sheep are daft, of course, so what should these be called, "pseudo-goats" or, though it is hard to say, "seashore sheep"?

Toddler Wall

I have spent a lot of time at the visitor centre the past 2 weeks painting a selection of Islay wildlife, complete with their habitats. The aim is for the youngest of our visitors to match the laminated creatures to their twin on the wall where I have stuck the painting. Here is a sneak preview:

Toddler wall

The touch tank residents have been welcoming me in the morning, by swimming to the side I am standing at, and right up to the surface in the hope of some breakfast.

Hungry shannies


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Walk to Rubh' a' Mhail

Yesterday six of us set off for the long, boggy walk to Rubh' a' Mhail lighthouse looking for adders, Basking Sharks and Otters. We saw Lizards, Red-breasted Carrion Beetles and Small Coppers instead but never mind. We nearly didn't set off in the first place because, despite the forecast, it started off so drizzly and overcast that we didn't see much point in going. Within half an hour, however, the cloud had lifted and the sun blazed down on us for the rest of the day. Falling asleep in the back of the car on the way home I opened my eyes just long enough to see the Osprey (at last!) fishing on Loch Indaal. This was very exciting but we couldn't stop to take a photo because it's the bit of road where's there's nowhere to pull over. What a fantastic day!

BIRDS: Yellowhammer, Kestrel, Hen Harrier, Great Black-backed Gull, Stonechat, Whinchat, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Grey Heron, Willow Warbler, Shag, Gannet, Wren, Manx Shearwater, (Osprey)

FLORA: Heather, Bell Heather, Bog Myrtle, Eyebright, Bog Asphodel, Milkwort, Round-leaved Sundew, Long-leaved Sundew, Cottongrass and probably loads more

INSECTS AND INVERTEBRAE: Red-breasted Carrion Beetle, Peacock Butterfly, Small Copper, Grayling Butterfly, Meadow Brown, Keeled Skimmer, Common Darter, Common Hawker, Wolf Spider, Small Heath

REPTILES, AMPHIBIANS AND MAMMALS: Common Lizard, Common Frog, Red Deer, Grey Seal

LICHEN: Fuscidea cyathoides, Usnea sp

SEA CREATURES: Butterfish, Beadlet Anemone, Butterfish, Limpets, Acorn Barnacle

Common Darters mating


Grey Heron

Red Deer

Red-breasted Carrion Beetle

Small Copper