Sunday 31 July 2011

Roe Deer

This female was sitting in the shelter of a gorse bush and reluctant to move. She let me get quite close before standing, and then I moved back and she sat down again.

Saturday 30 July 2011

Single-dotted Wave

The distinction between micro and macro moths is not solely a matter of size. This very small moth - about 11 mm long - is certainly tiny enough to be a micro, but is actually a macro! This is the first recent record for the islands - there is a single, old (pre-1961) record from Colonsay.

Friday 29 July 2011

Flora and fauna at Sanaigmore, 29th July 2011

We had a record total of 15 people on today's ramble and it was fantastic. Thanks everyone for coming and for your enthusiasm, questions and observations. I think the highlight today was the gentian spp. We saw both Field Gentian and Autumn Gentian, growing in separate areas but restricted to a couple of patches, both on tiny hillocks. Interesting. The scent emanating from the throng of Creeping Thistles was amazing - like honey, someone commented.  Any omissions or corrections, please let me know. The lists are getting longer so it's getting more difficult to remember everything!

Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Twite, Chough, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Gannet, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Wheatear, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, Swallow, Sand Martin

Aphodius fimetarius - Dung Beetle, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow Grasshopper, Common Blue

Dung Round Cap, Xanthoria parietina (bright yellow), Ramalina sp. (tufty green), Anaptychia runsinata (foliose bronzey brown like seaweed), Parmelia saxatalis (grey foliose species), Enteromorpha intestinalis


Thrift, Water Forget-me-not, Carnation Sedge, Birds-foot Trefoil, Yellow Flag, Monkey Flower, Silverweed, Marsh Marigold, Meadow Buttercup, Daisy, Watercress, Sea Rocket, Ragwort, Butterbur, Marram Grass, Lady's Bedstraw, Bell Heather, Deer Grass, White Clover, Red Clover, Common Sorrel, Common Storksbill, Dog Violet, Germander Speedwell, Eyebright, Ragged Robin, Cuckoo Flower, Water Mint, Marsh Pennywort, Wild Thyme, Tormentil, Marsh Bedstraw, Sea Sandwort, Sea Purslane, English Stonecrop, Dove's-foot Cranesbill, Common Hawksbit, Heather, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Lesser Spearwort, Common Nettle, Curled Dock, Autumn Gentian, Field Gentian, Common Centaury, Lesser Burdock, Cleavers, Jointed Rush, Common Rush, Self-heal, Common Milkwort, Bog Pimpernel, Cat's-ear, Red Bartsia, Yellow Rattle, Marsh Pennywort, Redshank, Marsh Willowherb, Common Cottongrass, Cow Parsley, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Gorse, Yorkshire Fog, Thyme-leaved Sandwort, Fairy Flax, Harebell, Yarrow, Devil's-bit Scabious, Pineapple Mayweed, Black Knapweed, Prickly Sow Thistle

Abbi shows how tall Spear Thistle can grow

To show the beautiful location

Absorbed ramblers

Someone managed to catch a grasshopper

Aphodius fimetarius - a type of Dung Beetle

A new micromoth

I caught this last night and it appears to be new for Islay (and the other islands) with very few Scottish records, though it is more frequent in England. It is called Egrestis pallidata and isn't common enough to have been given a vernacular name. It is quite large for a micromoth - about 13 mm long!

Thursday 28 July 2011

Flipping Barnacles!

Jane also brought in a photo of this flip flop covered in Goose Barnacles which she found at Killinallan. Goose Barnacles are filter-feeding crustaceans that attach themselves to rocks and flotsam and are often found washed ashore. Thanks, Jane!

Photos from Jane and Jenny

Thanks to Jane and Jenny who came on the ramble at Killinallan and brought these photos in to us today. Note all blog readers: you can do likewise!
Heath-spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata
Eyebright - euphrasia
Pyramidal Orchid - Anacamptis pyramidalis
Purple Loosestrife - Lythrum salicaria

Cave Corner!

I've been busy today developing our Cave Corner and have had help from Mirren who's been popping in to the Centre regularly this week. Here she is peeping out of the cave and the other photo shows Sophie, Alex, Milly, Isla and Anna who also visited the cave this afternoon.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Tufted Hair Grass (Descampsia cespitosa)

This is a very tall (up to 4–5 feet, 120–150 cm) and distinctive grass growing in very large tussocks in moist ground and just now in full flower. There's nothing must else it can be confused with - possibly Reed Canary Grass, but that has less spreading panicles and is much softer. If you run your fingers along the leaves of Tufted Hair Grass, you are liable to end up with cuts!

Fifteen-spined or Sea Stickleback

Caught in a shrimp net in the shallow water just off the beach outside the Centre in Port Charlotte, we think this is a Sea stickleback (Spinachia spinachia), although its spines are not really visible.

Woodland Wonders

We had great fun matching colours on our 'Nature's Rainbow' sheets yesterday in Bridgend Woods, with some people being more fussy than others about exact matches! We noticed Sycamore, Beech, Hazel, Elm and Ash Trees. We also saw Grey Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Wren, Chaffinch and Goldfinch. Butterflies we saw were Meadow Brown and Green-veined White and we saw Golden-ringed and Common Hawker dragonflies and Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies. In the River Sorn we saw lots of baby Trout. This beautiful flower is a Common Centaury which I've normally seen growing at the coast.
Isi with Nature's Rainbow

Common Centaury - Centauruim erythraea

Another Fencepost

It's been too long since I posted a fencepost! This one's down Glen Astle on the Oa and I'm sure it looks a bit like an animal (probably a reptile or amphibian given its kind of rough 'skin' (lichen)), but I can't quite make my mind up what species. Any ideas?

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Forthcoming Events

'Damsels and Dragons' - a talk on Irish damselflies and dragonflies by Brian Nelson - tonight at 7.30 pm at INHT visitor centre.

RSPB Family Fun Day - tomorrow 12 - 4 pm at Loch Gruinart Reserve.Fun and games; arts and crafts; pond dipping; make a bird box; woodland trail game; refreshments!

INHT nature ramble - Sanaigmore, Friday 29th July at 2 pm. Booking required.

Excellent Blog

Stephen Welch of Edinburgh was over for a family holiday/BTO work at the beginning of the month and sent us a link to his excellent blog covering their stay. Thanks, Stephen.

Pyramidal orchids

This group of orchids were admired on the Killinallan ramble yesterday. Looking at the vivid colour reminded me, for some reason, of the debate about which slide film gave the best rendition, particularly of red hues. Was it Kodak, Ilford or Fuji? What a long time ago that seems......!

Monday 25 July 2011

Orb-weaver Spider - Larinioides cornutus

The Larinioides cornutus  is an orb-weaver spider found in moist areas. We found quite a few of its silken retreats on today's ramble at Killinallan. The web is built between grass or in low shrubbery. The spiders hide during the day in a silken retreat that opens at the bottom (as shown) and disguised by plants or animal matter. They leave their retreat during the night to remake their web. A nocturnal spider!

Flora and Fauna at Killinallan 25th July 2011

Six of us enjoyed our ramble at Killinallan this afternoon. What the bird list lacked in quantity, it gained in quality. I was delighted to see so many butterflies around and thrilled with our flower list - the highlight being the Marsh Helleborine, which is flourishing this year, along with all the other orchid species on Islay it seems. So encouraging to see. Thank you to all for making it such an enjoyable ramble.

Whinchat, Whimbrel, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Oystercatcher, Starling, Eider

Meadow Grasshopper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Carder Bee, Highland Darter (f), Spider sp

Xanthoria parietina, Lecanora gangloides, Ramalina sp., Puffball, Shaggy Ink Cap

Grey Seal

Daisy, Meadow Buttercup, Grass of Parnassus, Black Bog Rush, Self-heal, Cross-leaved heath, Heath Milkwort, Bog Asphodel, Bog Myrtle, Tormentil, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Lesser Spearwort, Cat's-ear, Mouse-ear sp., Eyebright, Spear Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Lady's Bedstraw, White Clover, Red Clover, Bracken, Wild Thyme, Marsh Pennywort, Silverweed, Lesser Meadow Rue, Pyramidal Orchid, Northern Marsh Orchid, Marsh Helleborine, Common Twayblade, Frog Orchid, Autumn Gentian, Purple Loosestrife, Forget-me-not sp., Cuckoo Flower, Marsh Marigold (leaves), Ragged Robin, Iris (leaves), Common Sorrel, Dock sp., Meadowsweet, Yorkshire Fog, Common Rush, Jointed Rush, Sweet Vernal Grass, Lesser Sea Spurrey, Thrift (only just), Harebell, Tufted Vetch, Pignut, Sea Milkwort, Fairy Flax, Water Mint, Hawkweed sp., Marram Grass, Goat Willow, Marsh Bedstraw, Yarrow, Common Scurvy Grass, Ray's Knotgrass, Black Knapweed, Devil's-bit Scabious

Autumn Gentian - Gentianella amarella

Common Carder Bee - Bombus pascourum

Female Highland Darter - Sympetrum nigrescens

Marsh Helleborine - Epipactis palustris

Killinallan ramblers - whatever are we so absorbed in looking at?

Sunday 24 July 2011

Two moth firsts for the year

I've caught these before but they don't usually fly until July and so these are the first this year.
Six-striped Rustic
Smoky Wave

Friday 22 July 2011

Damsels and Dragons

Spider Crab Shell

A regular visitor to the island found this huge spider crab shell at Laggan beach and brought it in for us to see. Judging from the number of acorn barnacles on its shell, it must have been a great grand-daddy of a Spider Crab! The shell measured approx. 6" x 5". Thanks for bringing it in , Ann!

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Photos from Fiona Skinner

Thanks to Fiona for these wonderful photos of a Curled Octopus which she saw at Port Askaig and the fantastic photos of the otter feeding at Bunnahabhain.

Photos from Robert Mill

Thanks to Robert Mill for sending us these photos as well as an extensive list of his sightings whilst on holiday on Islay and Colonsay.

Anagallis tenella - Bog Pimpernel

Macrothylacia rubi - Fox Moth

Polygonum raii -  Ray’s Knotgrass
Neottia ovata - Common Twayblade 

Exploring Sandy Shores at Killinallan

Summer Sandy Shore Session

Baby Spider Crab
Fiona had a record 45 people on her family activity session yesterday! That's brilliant! They saw lots of shore crabs, hermit crabs, butter fish, a lion's-mane jellyfish and a really cute baby spider crab. Thanks Fiona. If this continues we're going to need more fishing nets!

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Two moths

The Scalloped Oak, caught last night, was a new moth for me, but not new for Islay, while the Barred Straw was the first for this year.
Scalloped Oak
Barred Straw

Monday 18 July 2011

Flora and fauna at Kintra, 18th July 2011

GrassThere may only have been three of us on today's ramble but we still saw a lot. We were unable to cross the 'trickle of a burn' that I'd warned our Californian ramblers about because it had turned into a veritable Grand Canyon river after the downpours of yesterday. But our detour route meant we saw something that I have never seen before IN MY LIFE! Fanfare please! Quite appropriate really given our forthcoming talk on dragonflies and damselflies next week. We saw an Emerald Damselfly which, according to our records has only been recorded 6 times on Islay before (almost certainly under recorded). It is quite difficult to spot and incredibly difficult to photograph as the camera wants to focus on anything and everything else green except the dameselfly - but I managed it in the end and it is a real beauty. I was beside myself with excitement.

We also saw lots of the delicate Grass of Parnassus and a beautiful male Hen Harrier. Here is the list:

Hen Harrier (m), Redpoll, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Chough, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Eider, Gannet, Twite, Raven, Hooded Crow, Starling, Swallow, Rock Dove, Pied Wagtail

Peltigera membranacea (Dog Lichen)

Self-heal, Heath-spotted Orchid, Heather, Cross-leaved heath, Bell Heather, Grass of Parnassus, Heath Milkwort, Bog Pimpernel, Bog Asphodel, Bog Myrtle, Tormentil, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Meadow Buttercup, Lesser Spearwort, Lousewort, Marsh Lousewort, Daisy, Cat's-ear, Mouse-ear sp., Eyebright, Red Bartsia, English Stonecrop, Spear Thistle, Marsh Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Lady's Bedstraw, White Clover, Red Clover, Bracken, Hard Fern, Wild Thyme, Marsh Pennywort, Silverweed, Yellow Rattle,

Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Emerald Damselfly, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, White sp., Small Heath, Marsh Fritillary caterpillars

Common Frog, Common Toad


Emerald Damselfly
Grass of Parnassus

Sunday 17 July 2011

Glen Astle to Lenavore on The Oa

Mark, Lorna and I had a looooooooong day out on The Oa yesterday, in glorious weather. We walked down Glen Astle, turned left and walked back to the road via Giol and Fang Dhu. Prepared for the worst, we ended up carrying far too much excess clothing and not enough sun cream! We had a fantastic day (excluding the clegs and the grand-daddy tick I acquired) and saw over 30 species of birds including Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle and Redpoll; 9 species of butterfly and moth; 19 toads (Lorna was counting!); 2 adders (sadly only I saw them); a pregnant lizard; a few unidentified beetles and a tiny cricket. It was encouraging to see several families of Stonechat, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit. My favourites were the Redpoll -a brilliant pink and the Grayling butterfly; Lorna's favourite was the toad and Mark's was the juvenile Buzzard we saw driving to our starting point. Thanks to Mark for the great photos.

Common Blue Damselflies mating - Mark Nelson

Juvenile Buzzard - Mark Nelson

Juvenile Buzzard - Mark Nelson


Lorna with toad